on errors in the Oxford English Dictionary

3 categories of errors exist in the Oxford English Dictionary: errors due to the fact that the contexts of the quotations are not always taken into account; errors perhaps due to lack of coordination between lexicographers; erroneous dating of quotations.

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folk-etymological origin of ‘squirrel’

Greek ‘skíouros’, ultimate origin of ‘squirrel’: folk-etymologically interpreted as meaning ‘shadow-tailed’ because when the animal sits erect, it raises its tail up against its back and over its head as if to shade itself

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origin of ‘to sit below the salt’

The phrase ‘below the salt’ originated in the social differentiations materialised by the former custom of placing a large saltcellar in the middle of a dining table.

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origin of ‘Bombay duck’

‘Bombay’: alteration after the city’s name of ‘bummalo’, the name of the fish—‘duck’: common dishes were humorously called by the names of superior ones

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origin of ‘R.S.V.P.’

early 19th century—initialism from French ‘répondez s’il vous plaît’ (‘respond if you please’), used at the end of invitations to request a response

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