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Warning to liberals about going to L

17 January 2014


From Mr A. M. Hughes
Sir, - Professor Michael Wheeler (Comment, 10 January), in introducing his thesis on liberal Christianity, tells us when different meanings of the word "liberal"came into use. The dates he gives come from the Oxford English Dictionary, and the definitions he quotes are from OED definitions. He used, however, the second edition of that work, which for this part of the letter L dates from 1902.

The online third edition has a revised entry for "liberal" published in 2010. This does not affect the tenor of his argument, but, for instance, the "free from narrow prejudice" sense has been ante-dated slightly, from his 1781 to 1772.

I find it a little surprising that an academic does not use the latest edition of a standard reference work.

A. M. HUGHES (formerly on the OED staff)
3 Moody Road, Headington
Oxford OX3 0DH

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