In Raymond Williams's Keywords (pdf here), one can read:

Culture as an independent noun, an abstract process or the product of such a process, is not important before 1C18 and is not common before mC19.

Williams, R. (2014). Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and society. Oxford University Press. p. 88.

I have never encountered this use of date format, does anyone know what dates "1C18", and "mC19" refer to? Other occurrences include "eC19", "C1S" or "C18". I thought of a misprint in the first place, but this is being used consistently over multiple editions.

After some thinking, I came to the idea that these refer to centuries: "C18" as in the 18th century; "eC19" as in the early 19th century, but I could not find any references to support it, nor can I understand some formats, like "C1S", or "1C18".

  • 3
    Are you sure the original text says 1C18 not lC18 (lower case L) meaning late 18th Century. This seems to be an idiosyncratic usage of the author, and I don't think this has much to do with general English grammar/usage.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 11:22
  • 2
    Doesn't the source give an explanation? I'd agree that C18 and C19 could be the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. However, 'e' could be either "early" or "end", "m" could be "mid". Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 11:22
  • 1
    Or 1C18 could mean the first half of the 18th century?
    – Stuart F
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 11:22
  • @StuartF, to your first comment, yes it'd make sense that what I thought of "1" is indeed "l"
    – Maël
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 11:24
  • 3
    I’m voting to close this question because it is an in-house abbreviation given elsewhere in the work. Not a suitable topic for ELU, which looks at standard usages (and expects reasonable research). I'm not sure why @Stuart F pointed this out but didn't close-vote. Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 17:37

1 Answer 1


Couldn't download the PDf from archive.org but found another copy on the web:

Raymond Williams - Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and society - Revised edition 1983.


Beneath the Introduction is the Abbreviation Table (which isn't fully rendered in the 'full text' on archive.org)

Abbreviations in Text

There is a definite need for better proofing of this text. Of 198 occurrences of 1C - all are numeral 1C and not letter lC. The only place letter lC shows up is in abbreviation table.

As for "C1S," there are 14 instances. By context, all appear to be most likely typos of C18.

  • You should put in the title (Keywords) and the author of that text.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 15:43
  • Nice research! Thanks for doing the hard work.
    – Mitch
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 16:27
  • I'm assuming that the "e" in "eC" actually stands for "early" rather than "first period".
    – Dan
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 19:28
  • Nice detective work. Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 20:03

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