I spent about three miserable hours waiting in line at the Oxford Dictionary Service and Requests Department last night after work when I should have been sleeping, and they totally wasted my time.
When I got to the front, and explained to them that I wanted to change the etymology of the word "pain" so that it comes from the French word "pain" (meaning "bread"), they just didn't understand.
I tried to explain it to them: a word's origin clouds its current usage, and hangs around it invisibly. It's part of the word's context, and, because of that, creates an association of ideas. I felt that the world would be improved if, instead of pain coming from the French "peine" and on back to a word for "penalty", it meant bread. Then, instead of pain being a result of doing somethign wrong, it would become part of the natural, necessary order. People resent penalties; they do not resent bread.
They didn't get it.
They countered saying that it would just make people dislike bread, the way people dislike pain and penalties, and would lead to starvation. Okay, well, maybe, so I suggested changing the origin to the Latin "penna", meaning "feather". Still, no luck.
Then the people behind me in line got antsy, and I was hurried out.
I'm going to try Merriam-Webster tomorrow. Wish me luck.