The very first part of what became the Oxford English Dictionary, published in 1884 and covering the range from A to Ant, did not include the word “African.” It did, however, include “American.” One might conclude from this evidence that the O.E.D., generally written by and for Victorian gentlemen, was biased against Africans.
But the real reason “African” was left out was rather different, and much less nefarious: James Murray, the dictionary’s first editor, made an early editorial decision that the O.E.D. would not include any proper nouns—this was regarded as the province of the encyclopedia, not the dictionary—and that words formed from proper nouns would likewise be excluded. This was a poor policy, which was quickly rescinded: “American” was duly entered when editorial work progressed deeper into the letter A, but by then it was too late to make changes in the “af-” section. It wasn’t until 1933, when Oxford University Press published “The Oxford English Dictionary: Being a Corrected Re-issue with an Introduction, Supplement, and Bibliography of a New English Dictionary on Historical Principles” (now referred to as the “1933 Supplement”), that this omission was rectified.
This claim is completely bogus.
Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2012/11/the-case-of-the-missing-oed-words-solved.html#ixzz2Djs82sd3