S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen


In response to a question one of my students inspired today...

The word 'blueprint' dates back to 1886, when, according to the OED, 2nd edition, "The Western Edison Light Company of Chicago..have adopted an arrangement for taking blue print by electric light." (Electrician XVI. 466/2) It should be no surprise that the word comes into being around the same time the first blueprint was actually made. What's more interesting is that it was in 1926 that the OED first finds mention of the word being used figuratively to mean "A (detailed) plan or scheme; a pattern." The following citations for this meaning are from around the same time - 1939 and 1942.

Intriguingly, the 1926 references reads "Spectator 11 Sept. 385/1 Surely he can complete his life by giving us the blue-prints of the millennium." This leaves open any number of intriguing questions - who was this person? What would his blueprints for finishing off the 2nd millennium AD have been? And did he ever do it?

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