"fair to middling"--M. Quinion's article
gcohen at UMR.EDU
Fri Nov 9 02:21:52 UTC 2001
This is very helpful. Michael Quinion antedates the earliest
attestation thus far noticed (1860s) by some thirty years. And he
specifies the nuanced grades (e.g., "middling fair") that he found in
19th-century American trade journals; I had previously received word
of only four basic grades--good, middling, fair, poor.
The only point that comes to mind is that it would be good to
have a few exact references of the trade journals using these
>From: "Michael Quinion" <michael.quinion at btinternet.com>
>Organization: World Wide Words
>To: Gerald Cohen <gcohen at umr.edu>, ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
>Date: Thu, 8 Nov 2001 09:10:35 -0000
>Subject: Re: Did "fair to middling" originate with cotton?
> > A while back there was an ads-l discussion on "fair to middling,"
>> with attribution of the expression to the grades of cotton: good,
>> middling, fair, poor.
>I'm sure, from checking nineteenth-century citation material, that
>there is an explicit link between the phrase and grades of cotton.
>See my piece at
>Editor, World Wide Words
><editor at worldwidewords.org>
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