10 Of The Most Impressive Acts Of Laziness In Human History

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10. The Oxford English Dictionary Outdated Itself Before Release

Oxford English Dictionary

Photo credit: Dan

Compiling the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was always going to be a monumental task. The last word on British English, the complete OEDcontains around 228,130 words spread over 20 volumes. When it first received a publishing contract in 1879, it was expected to take 10 whole years to compile. But those stumping up the money hadn’t counted on one fatal problem—the ability of academics to procrastinate like a total boss.

Five years into writing the OED’s first complete edition, the compilers had only gotten as far as the word “ant.” This should have been the wake-up call everyone needed to get them working harder. It wasn’t. Instead, 1889 came and went, and those involved were nowhere near the letter “z.” After 10 years, they’d barely edged out the start of the alphabet.

By the time someone finally sat down and wrote the entry for “Zzz,” the 19th century had ended, Queen Victoria had died, World War I had come and gone, jazz had stepped into existence, and the Wall Street Crash was about to hit. It was 1928, and the newly published complete OED was already out of date. Thanks to their epic bout of procrastination, the editors were forced to immediately get started on the second edition.

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