Adam’s antedatings

Note: pages in our 18c Leverhulme study section were originally published on the website in 2010. Links have since been checked and updated.

Antedatings in Adam’s work at present unrecorded in OED: Adam Table 2

WordQuotationOED datesAntedates OED record (years)Other features
helmless'Only just Noah built himself an Ark, / To save his Race, an Helmless, Oarless, Bark' (p. 61)1824, 185090OED1/2 (a2) records two examples only of this sense, from Byron (1824) and Tennyson (1850), so Adam's example is a significant antedating.
watered'[Noah's] Sons assist him in manuring Toil / And help to labour the well watred Soil' (p. 62)1798, a185964This may be OED1/2 3b: 'Of a country, locality: Furnished or supplied with rivers or streams of water. Often with adv., as well-, best-watered. Of a road: Having streams of water near-by, convenient for travellers' (for which quotations start 1798) or it may be OED1/2 3a. 'Of a garden, land: Kept moist by pouring or sprinkling water', for which there are no quotations between 1654 and 1826. So Adam's example useful either way (and the distinction between 3a and 3b is not in this case helpful).
sleepless'Thick up ascends the Smoak of Sacrifice, / Like grateful Odours to our Sleepless Guide / Who lib'rally does for his Priests provide' (p. 62)1792, 1820, 1884, 186658The closest definition for Adam's usage is s.v. OED1/2 sense 3, 'Continually active or operative,' for which quotations start at 1792: 'S. ROGERS Pleas. Mem. I. 194 Oh mark the sleepless energies of thought', followed by '1820 SHELLEY Prometh. Unb. I. 280, [I] thus devote to sleepless agony This undeclining head. 1848 GALLENGA Italy I. p. xxv, Thought remained anxious, sleepless, rebellious. 1866 GEO. ELIOT F. Holt (1868) 8 The quivering nerves of a sleepless memory.

Adam's example is an antedating, and her use of sleepless to mean that God is 'continually watchful on our behalf', rather than 'restlessly insomniac', is not captured in OED's existing definition nor illustrated in its existing quotations.
thornless'O fruitfull Field Religion! Fair Field Virtue. Thornless Field Pleasure'; 'Virtue is a Thornless Rose' (pp. 109, 185)1776, 1803, 1825...42OED1/2 definition is 'Having no thorns; free from thorns; without a thorn'. It seems likely that other earlier examples of the word will exist.

Last updated on