The Figurative Bad Hair Day

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Mon Jan 24 22:08:31 UTC 2000

I have previously posted a 1988 citation for "bad hair day" antedating
William Safire, Nexis and the Random House Historical Dictionary of
American Slang, all of whom have the 1991 Garry Shandling article as their
first use.  The question remains, what is the earliest figurative usage
that can be found.  The RHHDAS gives an August 1993 article in _Science_
as its first figurative example.

Earlier figurative usage is found in an article in the _Daily Telegraph_,
December 19, 1992.  In this article the following passage appears:
"'Having a bad hair day', in the fast-changing slang favoured by
Californian teenagers, is how you feel when you don't want to leave the
house: out of sorts, ugly and a bit depressed.  I came across the
expression a couple of months ago, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a flimsy
comedy film about a high school cheerleader [etc.] ... And 'bad hair
days', I discovered, do not necessarily relate to the state of one's
split-ends, or increasingly high forehead. ... having a bad hair day is
meant to be a metaphor for a bad mood."

Fred R. Shapiro                             Coeditor (with Jane Garry)
Associate Librarian for Public Services     TRIAL AND ERROR: AN OXFORD
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            ANTHOLOGY OF LEGAL STORIES
Yale Law School                             Oxford University Press, 1998
e-mail: fred.shapiro at               ISBN 0-19-509547-2

More information about the Ads-l mailing list