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September 15, 1978

Another 'First' Exposed

JAMA. 1978;240(12):1272. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290120066035

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Having cast many stones at those who report "first," allegedly previously unreported observations, I now find myself living in a glass house. "A Dithyramb to the Dictionary" (239:2159, 1978) contains a transgression to which N. G. Demy of East Hampton, NY, calls attention in an eloquent letter. The letter reads:

I beg to differ with your editorial that "No muse of the dictionary resided on Parnassus" and that "No poet dedicated an ode to a dictionary" or that "No chorus chanted paeans to a lexicographer." Franklin Pierce Adams did all that, and since you are unlikely to find him on the shelves of a library today, I give you his paeans of praise in "A Lexicographer's Love-Poem" in "Lines on Reading Frank J. Wilstach's 'A Dictionary of Similes' " (which should delight those interested in metaphors), and "To a Thesaurus."

As for me, I'm with Alice who protested "What good is