Drew Danielson drew.danielson at CMU.EDU
Fri Jan 26 13:46:57 UTC 2001

I like the automaton connection as well - it's the image that the word
"waitron" has always brought to my mind, and to me it has a pejorative
sense.  We used it sometimes exclusively in the late-80s/early-90s in
the service-job-rich town of State College PA.  I was a cook then, so
anything that disparaged the wait staff was OK by me  :)

Laurence Horn wrote:
> >
> >I heard it in the 1990's, can't remember where, might even have been
> >Minneapolis.
> >
> >I assumed it to have been conceived -- as a deliberately sexless term -- by
> >analogy with "patron" [of the restaurant]. It was pronounced to rhyme with
> >"patron" on the very few occasions when I heard it, so it did not evoke
> >images of subatomic particles, cyclotrons, automata, etc.
> >
> >It appears in AHD4 and in the Random House dictionary (RH apparently agrees
> >with my etymology). There are plenty of instances on the Web.
> >
> >-- Doug Wilson
> Notice though that the first listed AHD4 pronunciation is with
> secondary stress on the "tron", thus paralleling "neutron" and
> "automatron".  This is the way I've always heard it pronounced
> (granted, usually in mention rather than use contexts), and I never
> thought of a parallel with "patron" of the kind that would correlate
> with reduced stress on the second syllable.  The unstressed "patron"
> version would also be much less likely to yield that useful verb I
> mentioned (as in "tronning for senior dinner").
> larry

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