The publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary have put the word “gullible” back into the dictionary more than thirty years after a rogue employee removed it from the book.
“A disgruntled word compiler took it out back in 1982 during a pay dispute but when he told us what he’d done we all thought it was a stupid prank so none of us actually checked,” admitted OED editor Aaron Zzyzzyg. “Over the years various other employees have warned us that gullible was no longer in the dictionary but of course we’ve just ignored them because no-one wanted to look like a fool.”
Readers of the dictionary who have looked up “gullible” have found an empty space in between “gullable” (adjective: one able to imitate a seagull) and “gullyable” (adjective: capable of being pushed into a gully).
“Every time we published a new edition I warned management that “gullible” was no longer in the dictionary and they just shook their heads and muttered something about not coming down in the last shower,” said lexicographer Joolie Djownes. “Even yesterday when we rang up the printer to tell him to put “gullible” back in he told me he was a busy man with no time for my bollocks and hung up on me.”
The first record of “gullible” being removed from the dictionary is contained in Boswell’s “Life of Samuel Johnson”.
“The great man Mr Johnson mentioned to me over luncheon that he had removed “gullible” from his dictionary,” writes Boswell on page 275 of the biography. “He broke down into raucous guffaws when I opened the book to confirm this fact for myself.”
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