FW: Antedating of "Banana Republic" -- EOTY

Frank Abate abatefr at EARTHLINK.NET
Mon Nov 18 11:23:28 UTC 2002

What follows, courtesy of Michael Q and Fred S, is truly amazing, in terms
of the ability to find such info so quickly, and to disseminate it to the

Hats off to both MQ and FS!

I hereby cast my vote for this exchange as the Etymology of the Year.

Frank Abate

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
Of Michael Quinion
Sent: Monday, November 18, 2002 4:57 AM
Subject: Re: Antedating of "Banana Republic"

> The OED's first use of "banana republic" is dated 1935.  ProQuest
> Historical Newspapers has this surprisingly early:
> 1912 _N.Y. Times Book Rev._ 7 Jan. 3  [O. Henry] had studied with his
> quick, searching eye the rise and fall of certain banana republics.

I think I can beat that. From "Cabbages and Kings" by O Henry (1904),
Chapter VIII: "In the consultation of this small, maritime banana
republic was a forgotten section that provided for the maintenance of
a navy"; and from Chapter XVII: "At that time we had a treaty with
about every foreign country except Belgium and that banana republic,

As it also appears in "Tom Swift And His Big Tunnel" by Victor
Appleton (1916), Chapter III: "Is there anything wrong with South
America--Peru? I know they have lots of revolutions in those
countries, but I don't believe Peru is what they call a 'banana
republic'; is it?", it looks to have been relatively well known even
at this time.

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words
E-mail: <TheEditor at worldwidewords.org>
Web: <http://www.worldwidewords.org/>

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