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Posted: 21 September 2007 04:55 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Wlm James (I think) wondered about the etymology in another thread.  I looked it up in OED and found the earliest citation is from 1908, gunk-hole (an inlet).  Apart from that, there are these meanings:

1) A proprietary term dating from 1932;
2) “b. Any of a variety of viscous or liquid substances. slang” 1949;
3) A derogatory term for a person (of Far Eastern origin?) 1964 which speaks of “gunks and gooks”.

I’m not suggesting the third meaning has any relation to (1) and (2), but is this enough evidence to suggest that the current meaning of gunk (any sticky substance) derives from (1)?

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Posted: 21 September 2007 05:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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history of a company

Not very satisfying, but sort of from the horses mouth

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Posted: 21 September 2007 06:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Yes, the general meaning of any sticky substance comes from the trade name.

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Posted: 21 September 2007 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Given the origin story at the company’s website, and the prior existence of “gunk-hole”, I have to wonder if it existed as an undocumented slang term previous to its adoption as a product name.

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Posted: 21 September 2007 10:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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A Russian once described muddy water as being like ‘Gank’. I realised later he was likening it to the Ganges.

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Posted: 21 September 2007 04:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Heh.  A Russian once wrote me that she would love to see “Karphagen.” I racked my brains trying to figure out if it was some obscure German castle until I realized it was an idiosyncratic spelling of Russian Karfagen = Latin Carthagin(em) = English Carthage.

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Posted: 22 September 2007 04:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Those Russians would make good cockneys.

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Posted: 23 September 2007 11:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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The word “gunk” seems to pre exist the trade name.  I am going to guess a combination of “goo” and “junk”.  “goo” seems to come from “burgoo”, a thick porridge. Goo as “sticky stuff” is in use since about 1900.  “Junk” goes back to 14th century for discarded ropes and cable, originally a nautical term (CANOE vigilance alert!), and by early 19th century had the meaning of “refuse” and “scrapings” in general (! for our discussion of the Hebrew “sechi”—off-scourings). Gunk would be viscous, “gooey” junk.

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Posted: 24 September 2007 05:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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The word “gunk” seems to pre exist the trade name.

Actually, no it doesn’t.  As Eliza’s original post says, the chronology is this:

1) A proprietary term dating from 1932;
2) “b. Any of a variety of viscous or liquid substances. slang” 1949

If you’re interested, the first OED citation is:

1932 Official Gaz. (U.S. Pat. Off.) 23 Aug. 864/1 A. F. Curran Co.,.. Gunk. For Liquid Soaps and Liquid Cleaners for Hard Surfaced Materials or Articles.

Unless someone comes up with a prior usage of the generalized sense, we have to assume the latter came from the trade name.

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Posted: 24 September 2007 06:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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But the OED lists “gunk-hole” under the same heading, implying that they consider it a compound of the same word, and that is dated back to 1908.  Moreover, as I pointed out, the origin given on the company’s website ("One day one of the other riders said, `Give me some of that gunk to grease my bike.’ The name just stuck after that.") implies that the word existed before the product was so named.

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Posted: 24 September 2007 08:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Good point—I hadn’t (obviously) clicked through to read the origin story.

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Posted: 24 September 2007 08:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Dr. Techie - 24 September 2007 06:46 AM

But the OED lists “gunk-hole” under the same heading, implying that they consider it a compound of the same word, and that is dated back to 1908.  Moreover, as I pointed out, the origin given on the company’s website ("One day one of the other riders said, `Give me some of that gunk to grease my bike.’ The name just stuck after that.") implies that the word existed before the product was so named.

I assumed Dr. T.’s post in evidence before I made my post.

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Posted: 24 September 2007 09:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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HDAS uses a lot of material from OED but often makes a more modern interpretation (I think). OED does not routinely update isolated entries AFAIK even when there is a known error. HDAS shows “gunkhole” separate from “gunk” and says about the “gunk” in “gunkhole”: “origin unknown”.

I agree that the trade name “Gunk” was probably based on a casual “gunk” = “goop"/"glop" or so—as in the story (although I do not necessarily believe the story to be true in its details). Still, textual evidence is lacking AFAIK.

I don’t think “gunkhole” provides decisive evidence of any sort. It’s not obvious to me what the “gunk” in “gunkhole” is. Possibilities besides the current “gunk” include (1) “gunk” referring to a person, like “gook” (in its non-ethnic sense), (2) “gunk” = “jilting"/"disappointment" (Scots), (3) some sort of mangled German or Dutch, maybe “Gang” = “passage"/"channel" or so. I also find one old instance of “gunk” which is probably an erroneous or variant spelling of “junk” (type of Asian boat/ship).

[ Edited: 25 September 2007 09:29 AM by D Wilson ]
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Posted: 24 September 2007 11:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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This from a google books search (snippet view):

The resulting efferent gunk adds to the fatigue products


The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America page 1971(?)
by Acoustical Society of America 1929.

And again, from The Journal of the American Leather Chemists Association - Page 659 - by American Leather Chemists Association - 1906:

Recycling of the gunk, remaining after initial hydroxyproline removal

And gunk hole:
The Rudder - Page 60
edited by [Anonymus AC02851499] - 1890

Calls will be made at principal Maine ports and at gunk holes

All snippet views and I edited the links.

[ Edited: 25 September 2007 12:24 AM by ElizaD ]
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Posted: 25 September 2007 06:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Note that the so-called “date” accompanying a Google Books periodical snippet has no connection to the date of the publication of the material in the despicable snippet itself. I think in many cases all issues of a journal are assigned the date of the first issue of that journal (i.e., sometimes maybe 100+ years too early).

Other G. B. information is also unreliable; you can trust only what is in the text itself, and you have to be careful even within a largely readable text since in some cases two vastly different books have been combined and presented as one.

[ Edited: 25 September 2007 06:55 AM by D Wilson ]
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Posted: 25 September 2007 08:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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In fact, the page Eliza links to for the leather chemistry citation says “v.46 1951”, and while I wouldn’t necessarily trust that, I sure wouldn’t assume the text was from 1906 instead.  The acoustics journal link provides no such information, unfortunately, so it seems to be impossible to determine what volume and year the citation actually comes from.  1929 is, as D. Wilson surmises, the year the JASA was first published, but the style of writing in the “snippet” seems more modern to me, and I doubt that the passage is from that date. (Likewise, the ALCA Journal was first published in 1906, and the style, again, seems too modern for that date.)

Googlebook’s handling of dates for journals and serials almost seems deliberately designed to frustrate us, but I don’t think our interests are what they had in mind when they set it up.

[ Edited: 25 September 2007 08:43 AM by Dr. Techie ]
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