Thirty years ago, in autumn 1988, I published a note in Open Space, the magazine of the Open Spaces Society (OSS).
Our member Heather Wheeler from Devon had written that ‘oss’ is dialect from the former West Riding of Yorkshire, meaning the ability to do something properly. She commented: ‘it seems quite a suitable twist of meaning for the Open Spaces Society’.
I went on to note that The English Dialect Dictionary, edited by Joseph Wright (1898) had eight definitions for ‘oss’, from many parts of England and Wales, which included: to dare, venture, intend, show, promise, endeavour.
All of them seemed pretty apt for us. I suspect though that the much younger OSS, the Outdoor Swimming Society, may wish to make the same claim—especially in relation to dare and venture.