HD: 1944 Words
Posted: 23 November 2011 04:54 AM   [ Ignore ]
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A shorter list this year.

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Posted: 23 November 2011 06:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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mudflap, n. The name for this common and essential device is first found in a reference one hanging off a bicycle fender.

This sentence could use a little tweaking.  I think maybe “… reference TO one ...”

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Posted: 23 November 2011 07:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It wasn’t until 1954 that security blanket began to be used in the literal sense of a blanket a small child holds for comfort and reassurance.

Linus van Pelt’s security blanket also appeared for the first time in 1954, according to WP. Linus himself had been introduced a couple of years earlier.

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Posted: 23 November 2011 08:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Madison Avenue, n. In February 1944, The New Republic magazine ran an article on advertising by someone calling themself Madison Avenue, after the street in Manhattan that houses several large advertising agencies.

I would change it to “after a street in Manhattan that housed...” (It may well still house some, but that’s irrelevant to why the term was used in 1944.)

security blanket, n. .... This child-rearing use is almost certainly etymologically unrelated to the military one.

I would delete “etymologically”; I can see a justification for it, but it strikes me as confusing and unnecessary.

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Posted: 23 November 2011 10:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Regarding Peanuts, the OED has “security and happiness blanket” appearing in Linus’s hands in 1956. The blanket may have appeared earlier, but the words came a few years later.

Good catches on the others. I’ll fix them this eveving.

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Posted: 23 November 2011 11:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Interesting series, Dave, and the interest, as always, is enhanced by your timeline. “Clobber” surprised me, I’d have thought it older. Is it originally Air Force slang, I wonder?

field dressing

When you give 1944 for first-time citation, I presume you mean in the medical sense? Field dressing of animal carcasses must be as ancient as hunting.

Talk about diegogarcity - I came across the Gaelic word for this procedure last week, while reading a Patrick O’brian novel. The verb is “to gralloch”, from a Gaelic word meaning “innards”. I looked it up*, though the meaning was clear from the context. There was a horribly graphic illustration of field dressing in a Schwarzenegger movie I saw a few years ago. The hunter was an ET, and the “dressed” bodies - human. The movie didn’t say if they were dressed for dinner....

*since earliest childhood, I’ve usually run to the nearest dictionary, on first reading or hearing a word. I think lots of people - perhaps most - do this.

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Posted: 24 November 2011 04:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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When you give 1944 for first-time citation, I presume you mean in the medical sense? Field dressing of animal carcasses must be as ancient as hunting.

Nope, it’s the hunting sense. This is the verb. The medical sense is noun-only and dates to the Crimean War. This is a case where the practice is as old as the hills but the name for it is recent.

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Posted: 24 November 2011 07:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Very surprised about the newness of clobber.

As a side note, this is also an old word meaning “clothes”.

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Posted: 24 November 2011 08:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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The “clothes” sense of clobber is n2 in the OED, with citations from 1879.

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Posted: 25 November 2011 07:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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since earliest childhood, I’ve usually run to the nearest dictionary, on first reading or hearing a word. I think lots of people - perhaps most - do this.

Oh, you fantasist you!  I’m quite sure a minority of people do this, perhaps very few indeed… but many of us find our way to Wordorigins.

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