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I like to improve my familiarity with a word by looking over a range of contemporary examples of writers using the word. Normally I use Google News to find examples from newspapers and magazines. But I'm having trouble with the following verb (quoting the OED):

concert, v.

a. trans. Of two or more people: to arrange or contrive (something) by mutual agreement; (of a person) to arrange or contrive (something) with another.

b. intr. Of two or more people: to arrange a matter by mutual agreement or coordination; to work with joint action or purpose; to collude; (of a person) to work or act with another in this way.

Obviously, a search for “concert” won't work. And a search for “to concert” doesn't work either: I get results of headlines like “Russian pianist delayed en route to concert”. A search for “to concert *” is flat-out absurd: for some ungodly reason, Google includes results like “to the concert” and “to a concert”. Of course, “concerted” yields adjective-heavy results swimming in the fixed phrase “concerted effort”. And “concerting” yields strange errors where people seem to have mixed together “concerning” (as in cause for concern) and “disconcerting” (as in unsettling).

So I think ordinary Googling is a lost cause. Is there another way to find contemporary examples of writers using this verb?

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  • The OED has examples. Nov 2, 2015 at 3:22
  • It has only three examples more recent than 1930. I would like to examine a wide range of contemporary examples.
    – 76987
    Nov 2, 2015 at 3:24
  • 2
    There probly aren't that many of the verb itself. It's used mostly as the past participle, usually in the fixed phrase concerted effort. And then there's disconcert, which is quite common in many forms. Nov 2, 2015 at 3:26
  • Yes, both of those are mentioned in my original question. But the verb itself is by no means obsolete, and there ought of be a way of searching for it within an English language corpus of recent vintage.
    – 76987
    Nov 2, 2015 at 3:32
  • 2
    What makes you think it isn't obsolete?
    – Ricky
    Nov 2, 2015 at 4:10

3 Answers 3

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I searched in Google Books the following expression “we concerted” and found the following. The OP can restrict the search using the custom range feature that is hidden in the Search tools --> Any time drop menu.

1719 The life and adventures of Robinson Crusoe

… and his father presented him to me, and, in short, we concerted the manner of our travelling, and everything proper for the journey. I had bought a considerable quantity of sables, black fox-skins, fine ermines, and such other furs as ...

1836, Memoir of William Carey, D.D

He was much pleased with our congregation ; and we concerted means to get all the old Hindu professors together, having it now in our power to furnish them with some employment

1870 The works of Tobias Smollett

… upon as as dangerous acquaintance, and find it his interest to put us out of the way. I told him withal my confidence in Betty's good nature, in which he acquiesced ; and, during the remaining part of the night, we concerted a proper method of behaviour, to render us unsuspected in the morning.

1911 When a Cobbler Ruled a King

I have a band of trusty followers, and in view of the very thing that has happened, my arrest, we concerted, some time ago, a plan to rescue me if I am caught and condemned, even were Ion the way to the very scaffold itself.

1946 United Nations. Security Council

It would be better if we concerted our efforts in the Security Council and concentrated not on how to absolve ourselves by such sums, but on how to free the people of Namibia from the oppression and terror of the racist exploiters of South ...

1968 United States. Congress. House. Committee on Armed Services

This recognition has been the inspiration of the Alliance for Progress, in which we concerted our efforts, both human and material, with those of our Latin American neighbors toward the goal of achieving a peaceful economic and social revolution within a ...

1986 Contemporary Classics in Clinical Medicine

And in the final analysis we concerted our conclusions to define five groups in the spectrum from tuberculoid, through borderline, to lepromatous, which we designated TT, BT, BB, BL, and LL. To make the new scheme acceptable, we arranged ...

2009 My Paper Chase By Harold Evans

We concerted our plan of attack: more sport, more news, of course, but we'd introduce features, which meant recruiting more help. We wooed widely among second-year students, varying the pitch a little according to our judgement of the ...

Likewise the expression they concerted avoids any false positives, click on the search tool ---> Any time ---> 21st century and Google yields an impressive number of results, but I must warn the OP that many of the publications are reprints, so he will have to sift through the pages. A few examples:

1976 The Rival Queens

It seems that Don John, as a result of his initial encounter with Margot, had formed a rather indifferent opinion of the queen's abilities. In this he seriously underestimated her. Marguerite was not fooled by the ambassador's solicitude. “Thus had they concerted a double plot; the one to get possession of the town, the other of my person,” she observed grimly.
Returning Du Bois's smile, she excused herself for a moment and went to find the cardinal of Lenoncourt, one of her original companions from France.

If the OP uses the past perfect tense, false positives will be avoided; e.g. we had concerted

2014 A Set of Rogues

… of sweet hay, we soon forgot our troubles in sleep, but not before we had concerted to get away in the morning betimes to escape another day in the stocks. Accordingly, before the break of day, we were afoot, and after noiselessly packing ...

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I believe if you search the 'Google News' for "concerted with", you will find quite a few relatively recent examples, some from 2015, if I understand your goal.

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Along the same lines as Mari-Lou A's answer, I ran Google Books searches for "they concert" and "we concert," and found eleven unique matches published between 1996 and 2005.

From Political Science Quarterly (1996) [combined snippets]:

The states in question will ultimately have to decide whether to concert their actions or instead to act unilaterally and competitively to counter them. Whether they concert depends on both how severe the threats are and how each is affected by them. The more severe the threats and the more they affect all nearly equally, the more likely is concerted action.

From Benjamin Miller, "The International, Regional, and Domestic Sources of Regional Peace," in Stable Peace Among Nations (2000):

Leadership and mediation by a single broker should be more effective than that by several great powers, even if they concert their actions, because transaction and information costs are lower. All in all, a single dominant country will be better able and more willing to provide these goods than a number of comparatively equal powers, which are more likely to compete among themselves for regional influence than cooperate to ameliorate regional disputes.

From J. E. McGuire & ‎Barbara Tuchańska, Science Unfettered: A Philosophical Study in Sociohistorical Ontology (2000):

Power is in its enactments, in its relations of alignment and counteralignment that configurate individuals and groups. Individuals as they concert together "are always elements of its articulation. In other words, individuals are the vehicles of power, not its points of application."

From James D. Wolfensohn, "Message from the president and chairman from the 2000 World Bank Annual Report" (October 2000), in Voice for the World's Poor: Selected Speeches and Writings of World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn, 1995–2005 (2005):

If we are to achieve the United Nations–based international development targets, we all need to work together. Halving poverty levels by 2015 is possible, but only if we concert our efforts in a new way.

From J.A. Wylie, The Papacy: A Demonstration (2002):

The mystery of iniquity worked as treason works. The conspirators meet in secret conclave, they concert their plans unknown to the world, they speak in whispers, but their schemes at length ripen, and now they come abroad into the light of day, and proclaim in the house-tops what they had hatched in darkness. So did the "mystery of iniquity" work.

From Wolfgang Storch, Mania Thebaia (2002) [combined snippets]:

Those myths are written into the biographies of each and every one of us. Familiar and forgotten. When they surface, they differ from our memory of them. Here they concert to disconcert. Four approaches to the meaning of tragedy today, four attempts to find an idiom commensurate with what it has to tell us.

From UNI Info (2003) [combined snippets]:

"It's only if we concert our actions that we can be successful in Europe and demonstrate to employers that we can find each other."

From Kenneth Liberman, Dialectical Practice in Tibetan Philosophical Culture (2004):

How does a debate become coordinated and how is a structure for analytic thinking developed, that is, how do Tibetan scholars clarify the philosophical issues they are addressing and how do they arrange their discussion in a manner that enables them to listen to each other carefully while they carry out their inquiries? We offer a close description of the philosophical practices of Tibetan scholar-monks and examine in detail how they concert themselves to produce a well-ordered philosophical debate.

From Council of Europe, "Apologie du terrorisme" and "incitement to terrorism" (2004):

Article 25[:] Forms of conspiracy [under Lithuanian law]

  1. The forms of conspiracy are a group of accomplices, an organised group and a criminal organisation.

  2. Two or more persons are called a group of accomplices if at any stage of a criminal act they concert to commit, to continue or to finish a criminal act and if at least two of them are principles.

  3. Two or more persons are called an organised group when at any stage of a criminal act they concert to commit several, either serious or very serious, offences and each member of the group performs a certain task or has a different role.

From Turkish Policy Quarterly (2004) [combined snippets]:

In some important parts of the world, notably Russia, the EU countries have failed to agree on effective common policies—but they do have very similar interests. Silvio Berlusconi, Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroder have each sought a special relationship with Vladimir Putin. They have cosied up and refrained from criticizing the Russian president, lest they lose their privileged position to another European leader. Sooner or later they will learn that they stand a better chance of fulfilling their objectives if they concert their efforts.

From Emile Franz, The Shepherd (2005):

You understand, my friends, that as soon as the priests realize there is nobody in charge, they will act on their own and there will be anarchy here and we will be, God forbid, their first victims. I am then suggesting that we concert and decide of two or three other shelters where we know for sure to find each other, if while we are in the streets, we are caught by some riots. The Master would tell us not to fight but to retreat.

Additional recent matches may be uncovered by running similar searches for "can concert," "may concert," "should concert," and "will concert." Not every match will use concert in the desired way, and some of the matches will be quotations or reprints from much older sources; but many will be suitable, and they are easy to find by clicking the 'Search in Google Books' link for a specified time period and phrase. Here is the link for the complete set of searches I ran: they concert, we concert, can concert, may concert, should concert, will concert.

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