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This blog is about the fascinating, fun, and challenging things about the English language. I hope to entertain you and to help you with problems or just questions you might have with spelling and usage. I go beyond just stating what is right and what is wrong, and provide some history or some tips to help you remember. Is something puzzling you? Feel free to email me at wordlady.barber@gmail.com.
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Your birthday word: Wordlady's is... hydroflumethiazide?

The Oxford English Dictionary has a cool "birthday word" generator which lets you find out what word shares your year of birth (and sometimes your actual birthday).

How to search for a personal birthday word

If you don't have subscriber access to the OED, 
1) Complain to your public library that they should get it!
2) go to the Oxford Words blog, where you can find out a word first attested in the year of your birth.

If you have access to the online OED (for instance through your public library, such as Toronto Public Library for those of you who have a TPL card, and most university libraries), you can find out what word is first attested in the month of your birth, sometimes even on your birthday itself. 

Subscriber only Advanced Search

Step 1: Choose Advanced Search (under the "Quick Search" window at the top of the OED homepage)

Step 2: Enter the abbreviation for your month of birth in the advanced search box.

Month Abbreviation
January Jan
February Feb
March Mar
April Apr
May May
June June
July July
August Aug
September Sept
October Oct
November Nov
December Dec
Step 3: Select the  ‘-First Quotation’ option from the drop down menu  
Step 4: Enter your year of birth in the ‘Date of entry’ field  
Step 5: Click Search and discover if you have a personal OED birthday word.

You can imagine how excited I was to discover that the word closest to my birthday designates

A white crystalline compound, C8H8F3N3O4S2, analogous to hydrochlorothiazide and having similar effects and uses (given orally in the treatment of Ĺ“dema and as an adjuvant in the treatment of hypertension).

and how mortified to discover that I almost share a birthday with... Barbie!

Share YOUR birthday word in the comments!

P.S. If you find the English language fascinating, you might enjoy regular updates about English usage and word origins from Wordlady. Receive every new post delivered right to your inbox! If you are not already subscribed, you can either:

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About Me

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Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber is an expert on the English language and a frequent guest on radio and television. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Her witty and informative talks on the stories behind our words are very popular. Contact her at wordlady.barber@gmail.com to book her for speaking engagements; she can tailor her talks to almost any subject. She is also available as an expert witness for lawsuits.