Dickey bow
Posted: 25 January 2008 07:04 AM   [ Ignore ]
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OED

ADDITIONS SERIES 1993

dicky, n.

Add:  [III.] [7.] b. dicky bow, a bow-tie.
1977 Sounds 9 July 34/4 He’s even in a dickie bow and tuxedo, for Chrissakes! 1979 Observer 28 Jan. 9/2 The odds, however, would be completely revised if, as rumoured, Robin Day takes off his dickey-bow and leaps into the fray. 1987 New Musical Express 9 May 21/3 The other thing about bouncers is that, because they’ve got dickie bows and the suits..you think they’re even meaner.

I was rather surprised to find no earlier cites than 1977 for this. I associate the phrase with the 20s, 30s, at least the 50s. Of course, it may well be that they just haven’t come up with earlier instances yet, but could I perhaps be mistaken and the phrase did in fact originate in the 60s/70s? (It wouldn’t be the first time I’d projected a later word back into my memories of the 50s).

Also, is this a peculiarly British phrase?

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Posted: 25 January 2008 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Does “dickey bow” mean absolutely any bow tie, without qualification? Or perhaps some special variety of same? I was under the impression that a “dickey” was a particular design of shirt front (possibly even a false front) --- I am interested in hearing about this from the dress experts (my own sartorial knowledge and practice are at about troglodyte level)

Ed. Googling, I found an old wordorigins.org thread on “dickey”:

Wordorigins Archive 12 (11/03-02/04)

[ Edited: 25 January 2008 08:10 AM by lionello ]
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Posted: 25 January 2008 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Cassell says [1970s+] and defines it as “a detachable bow tie.”

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Posted: 25 January 2008 10:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I know GBs are unreliable, but I did find this in Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, Bart., G.C.B., D.S.O.: His Life and Diaries - Page 123
by Charles Edward Callwell - World War, 1914-1918 - 1927

That little Frenchman with the button boots and the dicky tie was in a few years to prove himself one of the outstanding figures in the mighty conflict when ...

And yes, lionello, I can also remember dickie meaning the dinner shirt.  OED remembers it, too:

5. A worn-out shirt. (Obs. slang.)

1781 G. PARKER View of Society I. 82 note (Farmer), Dickey, cant for a worn-out shirt.

6. A detached shirt-front.

1811 Lex. Balatronicum, Dickey, a sham shirt. 1843 THACKERAY Crit. Rev. Wks. 1886 XXIII. 29 If not a shirt-collar at least a false collar, or by possibility a dicky. 1848 Bk. Snobs xxvii, Wretched Beaux..who sport a lace dickey. 1886 BARING-GOULD Court Royal I. vi. 87 Paper collars, cuffs, and dickies. 1889 J. M. BARRIE Window in Thrums iii, ‘Come awa doon..an’ put on a clean dickey.’
7. A shirt collar. (New England.)

1858 HOLLAND Titcomb’s Lett. iii. 36 A beautiful cravat, sustaining a faultless dicky.

Dickey is also a leather apron, a short upper garment and a bib.

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Posted: 26 January 2008 07:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Well found—that book is indeed from 1927.  A considerable antedate!

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Posted: 26 January 2008 10:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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However, I’m wondering if the difference between “dicky tie” and “dickey bow” is significant.  Only 2 clear hits in Google Books and both of them “boots and dicky tie” and pre-1939?
Also, normal Google search shows only 180 hits for “dicky tie” (on English only pages, there seem to be about 200 foreign pages (English phrase lists?) that contain it for some reason).  And if you go through the very few hits for “dickey tie”, none of them are matches which seems odd since both spellings are used for dickey bow.

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Posted: 26 January 2008 11:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Hmm… good point.  May not be the same thing at all.

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Posted: 27 January 2008 01:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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All right, then.  What about:

France: The Birth of the Fourth Republic - Page 71
by Maurice Edelman - France - 1944

Ferriere, a former journalist, who with his dickey bow tie still looked a complete boulevardier though he himself had suffered considerably as a resistance ...

or

Díosbóireachtaí Párlaiminte: Tuairisc Oifigiúil = Parliamentary Debates ... - Page 1155
by Ireland Oireachtas. Dáil - Ireland - 1922

… and indeed of the members of the Labour Court must be raised at the moment. The very decorative dickey bow which Mr. TJ Cahill wears ...

I set ‘em up, you knock ‘em down.

[ Edited: 27 January 2008 02:19 AM by ElizaD ]
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Posted: 27 January 2008 05:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Bravo, Eliza!

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Posted: 29 January 2008 06:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I’m truly sorry to rain on Eliza’s parade, but the Daíl quote she found comes from 1970, not 1922 - 1922 is the year the record of Irish parliamentary debates began. Though 1970 is still seven years earlier than the OED’s earliest cite ...

I wonder what semantic link there might be between “dickey bow” and the adjectival meaning of “dickey”, given by the OED as “Of inferior quality, sorry, poor; in bad condition, unsound, shaky, ‘queer’”, and dated to 1812 (and still used by older Rightpondians, as in “dickey ticker” = bad heart) - a “dickey” shirt is a false shirt front, a “dickey” seat is a small and second-class seat, contrasted with a “proper” seat, and if a “dickey bow”, as LH’s cite from Cassell’s suggests, originally meant a ready-made-up bow tie, the sort that clips up round the back, contrasting with the “proper” tie-it-yourself version every gentleman and Wordorigins poster wears, then this too would be seen as “inferior” and “dickey”.

Of course, “dickey” for false shirt has been etymologically muddied by the Cockney rhyming slang Dickey Dirt meaning “shirt” in general, though as The Muvver Tongue says, “dickey dirt” was/is never shortened to just “dickey”. My belief on the origin of “dickey dirt” is that it comes from the same roots as Dirty Dick, a general expression for persons of unclean habits, like “mucky pup”, although GB throws up a frustratingly undated snippet from Punch magazine that seems to hint at some other meaning ...

[ Edited: 29 January 2008 06:39 AM by Zythophile ]
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Posted: 29 January 2008 10:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Well found.

However, I’m wondering if the difference between “dicky tie” and “dickey bow” is significant.  Only 2 clear hits in Google Books and both of them “boots and dicky tie” and pre-1939?

sulkily
What about my 1944 citation, then?

I’ll march my band out,
I will beat my drum,
And if I’m fanned out,
Your turn at bat, sir,
At least I didn’t fake it.
Hat, sir, I guess I didn’t make it.
Get ready for me, love,
cause I’m a comer,
I simply gotta march,
My heart’s a drummer.
Nobody, no, nobody
Is gonna rain on my parade!

Lyrics by Bob Merrill and sung by Barbra Streisand - “Funny Girl”

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