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Revisiting the "Request to reopen “Literal Meaning of 'Gosh'", I observe that a few minutes of dedicated research for that question ("Literal Meaning of 'Gosh'") antedated the earliest OED attestation (1757) by 36 years (to 1721). Incidentally (perhaps), I observe the context of the earlier use of 'gosh' is Scottish dialect:

Bawsy. O gosh! O gosh! Then, Jouk, ha'e at her,
If that be a', 'tis nae great matter.

The works of Allan Ramsay, 1721

Accordingly, I have voted to reopen the question, which, although it shows no research whatsoever, attracted three stellar answers in short order, as well as posing questions for which there can be no [easily discovered] general reference answers. I quote the questions from the question:

  1. Is this just a corruption of the word 'God' or does it have some other provenance?
  2. How long has it been in use?

Question 1 is not answered by OED's unsupported etymology, which does not even go so far as to cross-reference 'gosse' (although the latter does cross-reference 'gosh'); Etymology Online, at least, mentions a "probable" connection with 'gosse', as pointed out in Callithumpian's answer, but does nothing to evidence the claimed probability (unless you count mention of 'losh' as evidence, which I do not). In short, OED's etymology begs the question wholesale, and Etymology Online's puts a retail price on it.

Question 2 reminds me, once again, that closing, as general reference, etymology questions that ask "how long", puts the cart before the horse; OED's dating (and so also Etymology Online's) is itself frequently out of date. Data available from contemporary corpora routinely antedate their findings. Often, as well, the earlier evidence suggests other origins and specific histories than are proposed by OED, especially in the case of phrases, but sometimes also in the case of single words. This is to say, a claim that OED, posited as a general reference, provides the final say on the earliest date of use for a word or phrase presumes that research beyond general reference has been undertaken and yielded no contradictory evidence. Research beyond general reference being required, before the cry of "general reference!", belies the claim that the question can be answered with general reference tools.

About the previous point, I would like to accordingly edit the question to state baldly that OED and Etymology Online do not, on the face of it, provide adequate answers. I hesitate to so edit the question, however, because the edit would render one of the answers, an honest answer to the original question, half-foolish.

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    I hope that people who enjoy etymology questions will vote to reopen this question. As you point out, it qualifies as "general reference" only if one is satisfied with an extremely constricted and cursory treatment of the etymological issues involved. Once again, if people who don't care about word and phrase origin questions would just skip them, instead of trying to shut them down as "general reference" or (more recently) "insufficient research," EL&U would increase the number of interesting questions that are available for answering, at no practical cost. – Sven Yargs Nov 25 '17 at 10:28
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    @SvenYargs A question should show some research, which is what the close reason calls for. By all means add some research to such questions and vote to re-open. The particular question here still shows no research after five years, and the fact that three answers snuck in under the wire is not a reason to reopen it. It would be reasonable to add "OED shows 1757; OED is frequently superseded by subsequent research; is ante-dating possible here?" although that invalidates Barrie's answer. Probably better here to ask a new question which invites that research. – Andrew Leach Nov 25 '17 at 11:45
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    So editing the question as @Andrew Leach suggests would invalidate Barrie English's answer? I think Mr. English's rep and reputation and morale can emerge unscathed from such a blow. If not, hard cheese. As a user, I prefer everything relevant to be in one place, and not to chase link after link to find a complete answer. Now that it is reopened it SHOULD be edited. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Nov 25 '17 at 16:22
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    For the record, JEL has now edited the question to include a brief statement of why the question is not satisfactorily answerable by quick resort to a "general reference" work—a summary that required research on JEL's part. I, too, occasionally add research to promising but unresearched questions in order to satisfy the "show some research" requirement—but that doesn't mean that I respect "insufficient research" as a close reason, because I don't. More often than not, it serves as a convenient justification for closing questions that have deeper disabling faults than the nominal one... – Sven Yargs Nov 25 '17 at 20:31
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    ...but that close voters don’t want to take the trouble to spell out in a customized close explanation. As a result, posters of clearly unsavable questions are regularly informed that their cruddy questions fall short of EL&U’s standards only because the posters failed to show their prior research. But the implication that adding research notes to a too-localized or general-reference question would save it is quite simply false. Again, the great fault of closing on grounds of insufficient research is that the closure doesn’t speak to the merits of the question itself. ... – Sven Yargs Nov 25 '17 at 20:31
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    ...As a result, it invites closure of good questions because the asker failed to jump through an obligatory but artificial hoop, and it misinforms askers of bad questions as to why their questions are unsuitable for this site. I would love to see “too localized” and “general reference” resurrected as close reasons in place of “proofreading” (a subset of “too localized”) and “insufficient research shown” (a formal rather than substantive measure of a question’s worthiness)—but I would also like to see “general reference” applied only to questions that can be fully answered with minimal effort. – Sven Yargs Nov 25 '17 at 20:32
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    @SvenYargs I’ve seen you express that concern before, but not in such detail as here. Good to see your deeper thoughtful on this. If you feel so inclined, if you make a Meta-question on this topic, I’d be happy to weigh in. It might be good to hash this out a bit. For me, the principal ethic being violated by GR questions is “here, here’s my task, strangers on the internet: do this for me”. Most other considerations are negligible next to that discourtesy, in my mind. He next biggest value for the GR close reason is “you have a flawed premise, and quick GR check would disillusion you”. – Dan Bron Nov 25 '17 at 20:56
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    @Sven: I agree with Dan that your point deserves a wider audience than will be found in the comments on a question ostensibly about re-opening an old question. I would be happy to weigh in on a meta question that actually made a proposal : whether that is an incentive or the reverse is up to you. – Tim Lymington supports Monica Nov 25 '17 at 22:58
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    @DanBron and TimLymington: Thanks for your responses. I have tinkered with composing a Meta question about reverting to the "too localized" and "general reference" close reasons for many months, but I've struggled to capture the right tone (I sound more strident and cock-sure than I would like) and to cover the subject properly (I need to do more research into why EL&U moved away from those close reasons in the first place). If I can come up with a question that frames the issues adequately, I will; if not, I can at least assure you that I am very interested in your views on the subject. – Sven Yargs Nov 26 '17 at 0:29
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    @JEL I disapprove of your editing someone else's question to add research they never did. Next time please just ask your own question. – curiousdannii Nov 26 '17 at 1:10
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    @curiousdannii, going into detail about what you "disapprove" might be more convincing in the face of these help center quotes: "Edit Questions and Answers...We believe in the power of community editing...When should I edit posts?...Any time you feel you can make the post better, and are inclined to do so. Editing is encouraged!...Some common reasons to edit are: ...to correct minor mistakes or add addendums / updates as the post ages...to add related resources or hyperlinks" etc. Contrariwise, I would say your edit of the "gosh" question title invokes this: "trivial edits are discouraged". – JEL Nov 26 '17 at 19:38
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    @SvenYargs, I have pretty much thrown up my hands at the circumstances. In the time since I posted about "gosh" here (a post which, not incidentally, I hoped would occasion the discussion it has, as well as reopen the "gosh" question), another question, Was Knick knack an actual game?, has been placed on hold by a set of people who, judging by what I know of their activity on ELU, have no or at most a minimal interest in the subject, and who, thus, can safely be said to not be anything approaching... – JEL Nov 26 '17 at 19:46
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    @user159691, yes, exactly; it looks as if you've added enough 'research' to keep it alive, but I see it attracted one unjustifiable close vote already. For my part, the research is most of what I enjoy, so nothing is really wasted if the question is closed before I put together an answer...nothing is wasted, that is, with the exception of sharing the results of my research with the asker and others who stumble upon my answer, as well as giving yet others the incentive to go my research one better. Collaboration is valuable. – JEL Nov 26 '17 at 20:24
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    @JEL: One reason I'm uneasy about reverting to "general reference" as a close reason is that some close voters seem to view questions about word and phrase origins as being inherently off topic, since Etymology Online and OED are, in their view, general reference works—and, of course, those resources have at least some information on most words and phrases. I still haven't figured out precisely what led to the discrediting of "general reference" as a close reason in the past, but I suspect that overly aggressive use of it to dispose of whole classes of questions may have played a part... – Sven Yargs Nov 26 '17 at 21:55
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    ...and unfortunately there is no reason to assume that reviving it as a close reason wouldn’t lead to the same result. Nevertheless, I consider it borderline dishonest to tell people that the problem with their question is that it doesn’t show enough (or any) research when the reality is either (1) that the question is bad for other reasons, and attempting to repair it with research is a waste of time, or (2) that there is nothing wrong with the question itself, and disqualifying it for lack of research amounts to fetishizing a technicality. – Sven Yargs Nov 26 '17 at 21:55

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