If we look at the word "internet", we can see that it was virtually unused until around 1990. enter image description here Next, if we look at the word "wifi" we can see that there was a huge jump in around 2000. enter image description here My question is that while the usage seems low, the word "wifi" was clearly being used in the 1800s. What did this word mean back then, or is this somehow a misinterpretation of the data?

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    You know that stuff you ignored at the bottom of the screen? Look at it. – Hot Licks Jun 28 '16 at 1:07
  • Ah, cool. It appears that A) Google's digitalization process mistakenly picks out things like wife/will as "wifi". B) There is non-English text in the English corpus. – Leo Jun 28 '16 at 1:16
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    Click on the example books from 1800 or so. You see the following are mistakenly highlighted for "wifi": Swift, viri, coifee, wift, will, something in old German script, something in Hebrew script – curious-proofreader Jun 28 '16 at 1:41
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    Vote to close as it is not related with English Language and Usage and the OP should have done more research. – user140086 Jun 28 '16 at 4:27
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    I have already tried to delete it but I am informed that I cannot delete this question as it already has an answer. – Leo Jun 28 '16 at 4:40

It just means google was finding words that looked like wifi with its ocr, Internet is VERY hard to miss-ocr, there arn't any words that look like it.

You know OCR(Optical Character Recognition) is HARD, right? If you don't, now you do!

"Wifi" can be read by an ocr if the original was "Will" or "Wife", the ocr will often make mistakes, these 2 are most often mistaken, so google showes them as being used.

NOTE:This is as percentage, so googles ocr messes up 0.00000025% of the time out of all the words it ocr's, at the time on the second axis, in this case 1800.

The long percent can also be written as 10^-6*25%.

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  • I would rephrase your question as "Why does "wifi" appear on google ngram from 1800 to 1900 at all?" – mjz19910 Jun 28 '16 at 1:58
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    @Leo This answer answers your question. OCR is optical character recognition. It's the failure of Google's OCR which led to "wifi" showing up in Ngram Viewer results for the 19th century. – MetaEd Jun 28 '16 at 15:16

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