I’m trying to track down the first printed use of the word technique in English. Can anyone tell me the name, author, and date of the publication in question? It would be especially valuable, on top of that, to have an excerpted passage containing the word, in order to infer its intended meaning from its context.

2 Answers 2


Etymology Online suggests 1817, and it is not difficult to find Samuel Taylor Coleridge using it in his Biographia Literaria

The occasional obscurities, which had risen from an imperfect control over the resources of his native language, had almost wholly disappeared, together with that worse defect of arbitrary and illogical phrases, at once hackneyed, and fantastic, which hold so distinguished a place in the technique of ordinary poetry, and will, more or less, alloy the earlier poems of the truest genius, unless the attention has been specifically directed to their worthlessness and incongruity.

The OED may have something earlier.

  • 3
    That in fact is OED 1's earliest citation; the current online (by subscription) edition may have something earlier. However, the word techic (or technick) is cited in 1600; as this suggests, it may be relevant to OP's purpose. Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 23:47
  • Same in the OED Third Edition, updated September 2009.
    – Hugo
    Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 4:59

A moche profitable treatise against the pestilence translated into Eglyshe by Thomas Paynel Chanon of Martin Abbey. [Londini : In aedibus Thomae Bertheleti regii impressoris], 1534.

I'm not sure if this is correct, as I currently can't access the full text of this publication, link to Early English Books Online search result see below:


  • Since the earliest recorded date for technique in Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003) is 1817, I suspect that the 1534 occurrence either appears in an editor's note or introduction of much later date, or is a foreign word appearing as part of a block of foreign-language speech, or is an OCR error. In any case, it's safe to say that the word hadn't caught on widely between 1534 and 1817.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 22:27

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