I was looking at the usage of shine vs shone (related: Is "shined" correct? If so, is "he shined X on the tree" also correct?) and noticed that between about 1590-1600 shone has spiked in literary appearance.

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What is the cause for this? I can speculate that some famous (at the time) literary work used it and it gained popularity, perhaps one of Shakespeare's.

  • The Great Comet of 1577 ?
    – lbf
    Mar 30, 2018 at 13:57

1 Answer 1


The number of books that google have access to in 1595 (The source of the spike) is tiny, and the graph shows use of 'shone' as a percent of all other n-grams recorded in that year, a very small increase in the use of the word 'Shone' is enough to represent the spike that you see.

The N-Gram 'shone' was used a mere 6 times, in 2 books in google's 1595 dataset; the 'spike' isn't really that significant at all. OCR is also a lot less reliable on very old texts, so some of these could be OCR errors, for 'stone' for instance.

The dataset for 'shone' in the 1590s is as follows:

Year Count Number of books

1590 2 2

1593 2 1

1595 6 2

1598 2 1

For context, the 1900 peak represent 18,005 uses of 'shone' in 5,166 books.

  • 1
    +1 This is why Google NGrams deprecates searches before 1800. Mar 30, 2018 at 14:08
  • 1
    also because the OCR is much less accurate on older texts, there's a massive spike of "jeff" in 1710, which is funny as the name basically didn't exist then, every single hit on google books is an OCR error, mostly for 'jest'/"jests"
    – JeffUK
    Mar 30, 2018 at 14:11

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