One-Two Punch

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Thu Sep 20 15:31:20 UTC 2001

I have very extensive notes regarding the jargon of prizefighting from
U. S. sources of the 1820s.  Many represent considerable antedatings to
the HDAS.  (They are in the hands of Jesse Sheidlower, along with all
of my notes on Americanisms.)  I have had half a mind to submit them to
American Speech or any other journal that will put them on paper and in
libraries.  In any event, here is "one-two" from a NYC newspaper,
1822.  It appears as the signature to a letter to the editor
purportedly written by two boxers.

1822:   ONE TWO and FLOORER.  The American, March 2, 1822, p. 2, col.

George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African
Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.

----- Original Message -----
From: Jonathon Green <slang at BLUEYONDER.CO.UK>
Date: Thursday, September 20, 2001 5:34 am
Subject: Re: One-Two Punch

> > --------------------------------------------------------
> >
> >    The RHHDAS has 1811, then 1902.  Could the 1811 cite be
> wrong?...Evenif it is, 1902 seems a little early for this fighter
> to create and
> popularize it.
> No. RHDAS (citing OEDS) is spot on. There is a large vocabulary of
> early 19C
> prize-fighting slang (e.g. _smeller_, nose; _claret_, blood,
> _victuallingdepartment_ or _office_, stomach). The works of Pierce
> Egan (sporting
> journalist, editor in 1823 of the last revision of Grose's
> Classical Dict.
> of the Vulgar Tongue, and creator of the original 'Tom and Jerry')
> are its
> best repository.
> On 'one-two' my own files offer, inter alia:
> 1819 T. Moore _Tom Crib's Memorial to Congress_ 14: Which t'other
> observing_put in_ his ONE-TWO / Between GEORGY'S left ribs, with a
> knuckle so true
> 1823 'Jon Bee' _Slang_ 130: One-two (ring) - when both hands are
> applied to
> the antagonist quickly, he is said to have 'napt one-two' -three,
> sometimes;a saying created at Bristol and brouight up to London
> 1848 _Flash Dictionary_ (in _Sinks of London Laid Open_) 118: One
> two, two
> blows succeeding each other
> Jonathon Green

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