This is probably off-topic, but recently Ngrams made a schlimmbesserung on their site, and now I cannot find snippets before 1800.

example https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=broadcast&year_start=1500&year_end=2019&corpus=26&smoothing=3&case_insensitive=true#

Should be the right way...but on the original URL it shows this...

enter image description here

...and continues to show the same thing. My browser is Firefox, if that makes a difference.

How do I click on years before 1800 to find snippets?

I am trying to find an etymology of the word "broadcast", which seems to date to 1767 according to Etymonline, but Ngrams shows hits well into the 1600s.

I have read through the Help page on Google, and cannot find any suggestions.


2 Answers 2


In a comment, it was suggested that I change browser. I did that and the same problem presented itself.

After a little noodling around with Ngram in both Chrome and Firefox, I was able to determine that the site works a little differently from the way I remember before the "update" . Perhaps it is a bug, or perhaps it was always that way and I just never noticed, but I don't think so.

In the past, I have always set searches in a linear fashion, working from top to bottom

  1. erased the Einstein Frankenstein etc. stuff
  2. type in my search word or phrase
  3. select date range, case, and smoothing
  4. hit search button or [Enter]

The site then produced a search for the related data.

Now, it seems that it is necessary to

  1. select date range, case, and smoothing
  2. type in search string
  3. hit [enter]

Failing that, if you have already typed in the search string first the way I used to do, and then change parameters, it is necessary to click back on the search line and hit [Enter] again to refresh.

The problem seems to be in the "Apply" button on the date range search. It's either buggy or does not update immediately. enter image description here

  • 1
    OK, now I get it. Ngram needs to be refreshed if the dates are changed.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 2, 2020 at 22:02
  • Doesn't look like it. It seems more like an inconvenience rather than a proper bug. The results appear in the graph but the page needs to be refreshed in order to view the citations/book results. Annoying but easily resolvable.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 2, 2020 at 22:26
  • Last night, I wasted a couple of hours testing out like 50 variations in scientific manner, not exactly easy....or maybe I am just getting old and slow. Usually this kinda stuff used to be intuitive for me, but this update seems counter intuitive and smelling of Hewlett Packard. Nov 2, 2020 at 22:28
  • 1
    Maybe ask over at web applications?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 2, 2020 at 22:33

Click on a button; doesn't matter which.

Google Ngram date buttons

Change the date range to the dates you want:

Ngram results date range New date range

Presto. Done.

Of course, all the standard caveats about what these dates actually mean still apply!

  • Sorry...maybe it was my browser (Firefox). Before there were no buttons before 1800...now when I click on my own link it shows 1500 and up, but the original URL still shows only 1800. Go figure. Thanks a lot. Should I delete the Q? Nov 1, 2020 at 19:05
  • 1
    I don't think so: I didn't realise that you could choose your own date range, and it's useful information. If there were results indicated by the graph but no relevant buttons, this may well still work to get the range you want.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Nov 1, 2020 at 19:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .