Traffic Watch 2/28: Angelenos Seethe At Morning Backup, Dord
On This Day in 1939, ’Dord’ was discovered to be a made-up word in the dictionary. Unsurprisingly, traffic responded accordingly this morning by dording every major 10 freeway artery in sight. From the knowledgebase:
On July 31, 1931, Austin M. Patterson, Webster’s chemistry editor sent in a slip reading “D or d, cont./density.” This was intended to add “density” to the existing list of words that the letter “D” can abbreviate. The slip somehow went astray, and the phrase “D or d” was misinterpreted as a single, run-together word: dord. (This was a plausible mistake because headwords on slips were typed with spaces between the letters, making “D or d” look very much like “D o r d”.) A new slip was prepared for the printer and a part of speech assigned along with a pronunciation. The word got past proofreaders and appeared on page 771 of the dictionary around 1934.
Some years later…
On February 28, 1939, an editor noticed “dord” lacked an etymology and investigated. Soon an order was sent to the printer marked “plate change/imperative/urgent”. The word “dord” was excised and the definition of the adjacent entry “Dore furnace” was expanded from “A furnace for refining dore bullion” to “a furnace in which dore bullion is refined” to close up the space. Gove wrote that this was “probably too bad, for why shouldn’t dord mean ’density’?”
Above: Residents seethe at morning gridlock and ponder ways to casually slip “dord” into a conversation today.