Here’s why the OED is so great. Four times a year, they issue a list of new and updated entries; the latest, from March, is called “ovest to Papua New Guinean.” Naturally, I looked up “ovest,” thinking that it might be a borrowing of the Italian word for ‘west’ (Charles Kingsley’s Westward Ho!, for instance, is Verso ovest in Italian), but no: it’s a dialectal word for ‘acorns and oak mast.’ It’s the modern form (with an excrescent, or epenthetic, -s- from somewhere or other, perhaps harvest) of the Old English ofet ‘fruit’ (spelled obet in early glosses), which is related to German Obst. The Old English poem known as Genesis B has a line “Adam, frea min, þis ofet is swa swete” [Adam, my lord/master/husband, this fruit is so sweet], and the 14th-century Ayenbite of Inwit has this rendition of a famous line of the Ave Maria: “Y-blissed þou ine wymmen, and y-blissed þet ouet of þine wombe.” After the 14th century it goes underground for half a millennium, reappearing as a dialect word from Hampshire:
1866 R. D. BLACKMORE Cradock Nowell (1883) xxxi. 176 The hogs skittered home from the ovest. 1871 J. R. WISE New Forest 183 in W. H. Cope Gloss. Hampshire Words 65 The mast and acorns of the oak are collectively known as the turn-out or ovest.
Now, this word was not unknown to the first edition of the OED, but there it was entered under “ovet. Obs. exc. dial. (ovest)”; in the century since then (the fascicle Outjet-Ozyat appeared in January 1904) they not only added the second dialect citation, they decided (quite rightly) that it should be entered under the modern spelling. Furthermore, they dug up the derived word ovesting and added that as a new entry:
Eng. regional (Hampshire). Now rare.
The action of feeding on acorns and mast.
1903 Eng. Dial. Dict. IV. 393/2 Pigs may be turned out only by those who have the right, and by them only in the legal Ovesting or Pawnage months—that is to say, from September 25th to November 22nd, when the acorn and beech mast have fallen to the ground of their over-ripeness. 1906 A. MARSHALL Richard Baldock iii. 28 Sometimes a drove of black pigs would cross his path, fussily intent on their ovesting.
When they issue their quarterly announcements, press attention is always focused on the new and exciting words: in this case, say, OxyContin, Ozzie and Harriet, P2P, and Palm Pilot, as well as the out-of-sequence aloo chaat, Beantown, cool Britannia, Deadhead, and Dogme (though I myself am particularly fond of Disgusted ‘Originally as a self-designation: a member of the public who writes anonymously to a newspaper expressing outrage about a particular issue. Hence more widely: a person who is vocal and indignant in his or her opposition to something’ and pace tanti viri dixerim ‘with due respect to so eminent a man’). But the inclusion of new and exciting words is a matter of canny self-promotion as well as lexicography; every dictionary trumpets its hot-off-the-presses innovations (many of which wither on the vine and are quietly dropped from future editions). The OED isn’t going to get any publicity or financial reward from improving the entry for an obscure dialectal word; they do it purely because they’re committed to documenting the language and its history as thoroughly as possible, and I love them for it.