So I learned today that the Oxford English Dictionary missed the boat on psychoacoustics. I noted some definitional errors when work on The Audible Past, so it’s fun to find another one. Allow me to quote myself:

They chart the first reference to Harvard’s laboratory to 1946, though according to Harvard University’s archives the laboratory had been in existence since 1940 (Harvard University Archives, Records of the Psycho-Acoustic Laboratory, UAV 713.9, accessed online at, 17 January 2006). This, in turn suggests that the term was in common use among researchers interested in auditory perception from sometime in the 1930s.

The first noted use of psycho-acoustic, however, was as an adjective to describe a section of a dog’s brain in the 1880s.