Dictionary.com Word FAQs
How can I find out when a word was first used?
The Oxford English Dictionary prides itself on its reading program, which seeks the oldest citation for each word in the dictionary. If you have access to a print copy or the online version, this is a great source of such information. Others, such as Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, will give approximate dates for a word's entry into English (for example, ca. 1611). Books have also been published grouping the birth records of words, such as the words concerning Travel/Transportation that were in use by 1930 (English Through the Ages, Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, 1998).