Jones and jonesing
Posted: 22 September 2012 03:25 PM   [ Ignore ]
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In the sense of heroin habit, and in the extended sense of craving something. Unreliable internet sites attribute the origin to Great Jones Street in NYC, known for its addicts. I’m sceptical, as I grew up there and had never noticed this rather titchy street; I can’t find anything to indicate that it was any druggier than any other street on the Lower East Side.

The first example in the OED is from 1971, but I thought I encountered it somewhere that dated from before that, but can’t remember where. It may have been either in Piri Thomas’s Down These Mean Streets or Claude Brown’s Manchild in the Promised Land, both of which were published before that, but I haven’t got either here. Also, the OED only gives it as a verb, and I’m fairly sure I’ve seen it as a noun.

Can anyone get further?

[ Edited: 22 September 2012 03:32 PM by kurwamac ]
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Posted: 22 September 2012 03:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The noun appears in Brown’s Manchild, published in 1965. The citation is in the OED, under the Jones, n. entry.

That’s the earliest I’m aware of.

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Posted: 22 September 2012 03:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Damn, I only noticed the first entry for the noun. Still, at least my memory’s not shot as well as my ability to read.

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Posted: 22 September 2012 09:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Still, at least my memory’s not shot as well as my ability to read.

Your ability to write, however, appears to have survived intact. In your OP I see clauses preceded by and, as, but, but, and, also…… (I refer to an article posted by Dave on another thread).  Was writing taught formally at your school?

(this post probably belongs on that other thread - I’m not sure what to do about that)

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Posted: 23 September 2012 01:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Which thread?

Edit: never mind, found it.

[ Edited: 23 September 2012 01:29 PM by kurwamac ]
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Posted: 26 September 2012 12:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The following is personal anecdotal evidence concerning a possible etymology of the terms “Jones” and “jonesing” as related to drug addiction, particularly heroin. It may be folk etymology of my own unconscious design.

In the 1970’s I was in frequent, sometimes daily contact with musicians and other artists who were experimenting with heroin. Some of them were undeniably addicted to it. They would speak of “jonesing” meaning falling behind in the maintenance of their habit.

The meaning seemed clear to me. They needed their “fix” and were falling behind in the procurement of the minimum dose required to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay.

I was curious about the term when I first heard it. I asked about the origin of the term, and wanted to know where it had come from. Sometime in the mid-1970’s I came to believe that it probably derived from the earlier slang phrase or concept, “keeping up with the Joneses.”

I took the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses” to mean, that if your neighbors (generically referred to as “The Joneses") would get a new mailbox, in order to keep up, you had to get one. If they got a new lawnmower, new car, new wardrobe, new garage door, or new anything, to keep up, you had to do the same, preferably with something slightly newer, better, or more expensive.

For heroin addiction, doses required to “maintain” the habit constantly increase, often at a rapid rate. A habit could go from a few dollars a week, to orders of magnitude more in a short period of time. Doses required to obtain a “high” were somewhat higher than maintenance doses.

I thought this requirement for higher and higher dosage was similar to the escalation evident in “keeping up with the Joneses.” It may have some merit as to the etymology of “jonesing.” But again, this is anecdotal.

.

I looked around to find evidence supporting this, but failed to find any. The earliest reference to “keeping up with the Joneses” I saw is Keeping up with the Joneses, by Pop Momand, first series, 1920, Cupples & Leon Company, N.Y.

Image, here.

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Posted: 26 September 2012 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The Pop Momand comic strip dates to 1913. The earliest evidence for the phrase in general use is from 1926. See: http://www.wordorigins.org/index.php/site/comments/joneses_keep_up_with_the/

I’ve always thought keeping up with the Joneses was a plausible origin for the drug term, but I have no evidence, only speculation.

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Posted: 26 September 2012 02:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I am sure that the OED cite can be antedated.

I first heard the term “jones” on the Cheech and Chong song “Basketball Jones” from 1974.  And I note that there was a 1972 pop song called “Love Jones”.  These are both riffs on the addiction usage.  i wouldn’t be surprised in the use of the word with heroin dates from the 1950s or earlier.

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Posted: 26 September 2012 08:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Dave Wilton - 26 September 2012 01:47 PM

The Pop Momand comic strip dates to 1913. The earliest evidence for the phrase in general use is from 1926. See: http://www.wordorigins.org/index.php/site/comments/joneses_keep_up_with_the/

I’ve always thought keeping up with the Joneses was a plausible origin for the drug term, but I have no evidence, only speculation.

I saw (using google books) a few possibly earlier references to keeping up with the Joneses from the early 1800’s, but they were restrictively paywalled, and so of no practicable use to me.

For the phrase, “keeping up with the Joneses” to be comic-strip-material-funny, I suspect that it may be older than the 1920 “first series” reference I found and also the 1913 Pop Momand comic strip reference above.

I also failed to find any evidence to support my initial belief that the phrase was indeed the origin for the drug-related term.

JimWilton - 26 September 2012 02:39 PM

I am sure that the OED cite can be antedated.

I first heard the term “jones” on the Cheech and Chong song “Basketball Jones” from 1974.  And I note that there was a 1972 pop song called “Love Jones”.  These are both riffs on the addiction usage.  i wouldn’t be surprised in the use of the word with heroin dates from the 1950s or earlier.

If I remember correctly, the main lyrics were, “I’ve got a basketball Jones...”

(I’ll check...) They are: “Basketball Jones, I got a Basketball Jones...”

So, there is also ‘having’ or “got” “a <certain type of> Jones”

I have heard, “jonesing for some coffee” and jonesing for other much desired things as well.

[ Edited: 26 September 2012 08:03 PM by sobiest ]
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Posted: 27 September 2012 03:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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For the phrase, “keeping up with the Joneses” to be comic-strip-material-funny, I suspect that it may be older than the 1920 “first series” reference I found and also the 1913 Pop Momand comic strip reference above.

The idea is that Momand’s title was simply that. It had no significance or reference to an existing phrase. The phrase arose out of the comic strip.

I saw (using google books) a few possibly earlier references to keeping up with the Joneses from the early 1800’s, but they were restrictively paywalled, and so of no practicable use to me.

I don’t see any in Google Books from the early 1800s. There is one allegedly from a 1739 issue of the Spectator, but when you look at the snippet view it’s clearly late-20th or 21st century (references to VAT and “UK mainland” and ads for wine priced at £19/bottle). There’s also a hit on an 1897 Edith Wharton novel, but when you do the search on the book itself it turns up no hits.

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Posted: 27 September 2012 10:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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It may be that “keeping up with the Joneses” came into use from Momand’s strip. It certainly provided the thrust the phrase needed to become popular.

I thought there might be earlier uses.  I also thought it would be easy to re-find those early 1800’s results I saw yesterday but I couldn’t find them. I tried many searches today, but I must have missed the one that returned those results.

I did see the mis-dated Spectator result yesterday and I also came across the Edith Wharton result and noticed that there were no matches for the phrase or even “Joneses” in the book. That was confusing. I wondered, why was it in the results?

Could the Edith Wharton result be related to the fact that “Jones” is her father’s family name? That’s curious, if it does have anything to do with the google results. Maybe it’s a another google improvement. There does appear to be some speculation that the “Joneses” of the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses” were likely to have been them:


“...An alternative explanation is that the Joneses of the saying refer to the wealthy family of Edith Wharton’s father, the Jones. The Jones were a prominent New York family with substantial interests in Chemical Bank as a result of marrying the daughters of the bank’s founder, John Mason [4]. The Jones and other rich New Yorkers began to build country villas in the Hudson Valley around Rhinecliff and Rhinebeck, which had belonged to the Livingstons, another prominent New York family to which the Jones were related. The houses became grander and grander. In 1853 Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones built a 24 room gothic villa called Wyndclyffe described by Henry Winthrop Sargent in 1859 as being very fine in the style of a Scottish castle, but by Edith Wharton, Elizabeth’s niece, as a gloomy monstrosity[5]. Reputedly the villa spurred more building, including a house by William B. Astor (married to a Jones cousin), a phenomenon described as “keeping up with the Joneses”. The phrase is also associated with another of Edith Wharton’s aunts, Mary Mason Jones, who built a large mansion at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street…

and,

...A slightly different version is that the phrase refers to the grand lifestyle of the Joneses who by the mid-century were numerous and wealthy, thanks to the Chemical Bank and Mason connection. It was their relation Mrs William Backhouse Astor, Jr who began the “patriarchs balls”, the origin of the Four Hundred, the list of the society elite who were invited. By then the Joneses were being eclipsed by the massive wealth of the Astors, Vanderbilts and others but the four hundred list published in 1892 contained many of the Jones and their relations…

from http://wpedia.goo.ne.jp/enwiki/Keeping_up_with_the_Joneses

I also saw an 1894 instance:


...etymologist Barry Popik has uncovered an earlier use (in the form “keeping up with the Smiths and the Joneses") in print dating back to 1894, so it’s likely that “keeping up with the Joneses” arose in the late 19th century…

from http://www.word-detective.com/112304.html

This is Popik’s cite:


15 February 1894, Ohio Democrat (New Philadelphia, OH), pg. 5, col. 2:
The New Philadelphia Directory shows the names of 30 Smiths, 30 Millers, 29 Joneses, and 28 Kniselys. This is a pretty good showing for the Millers and the Kniselys, when they can keep up with the Smiths and the Joneses.

http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/keeping_up_with_the_joneses/

The text shown in the cite above is a complete entry with a bar set above and below the text. It appears just below the middle of column 2. It doesn’t seem be pure “keeping up with the Joneses” though. 

I also saw a claim that “Harry Jones” was a slang for heroin and “Jones” was sort of rhyming slang for heroin thus: “Jones” = “Harry” = “heroin.” I saw this on a drug slang website. I misplaced the link.

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Posted: 28 September 2012 07:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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It doesn’t seem be pure “keeping up with the Joneses” though. 

I agree.  The connection to the idiom seems tenuous, at best.

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