a "short" as a stock speculator: antedating of OED

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed Jun 11 17:09:28 UTC 2003

The OED has "short" as a stock gambler who sells more shares of stock than he owns in hope of a fall in its price, from 1849, citing G. C. Foster, N. Y. in Slices, then from 1881 & 1891, both also U. S. sources (B5); it has "to sell short" from 1852 & 1861, both U. S. sources (C11); all phrases in C11 show words "sell short"; the OED seems to lack "short" as a verb in itself (eg, He shorted Lucent.)

Here is a citation for the noun "short" from 1840.

The "shorts" in our stock market were badly put to it on Saturday.  NY Daily Express, August 5, 1840, p. 2, col. 4, from Bicknell's Reporter


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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list