Antedating of "Shaggy Dog Story"

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Mon Mar 3 15:48:04 UTC 2003

On Sun, 23 Feb 2003, Baker, John wrote:

>         There was an article about shaggy dog stories in Esquire in the
> 1930s, reprinted in The Bedside Esquire (1940).  I can't lay my hands on
> my copy of The Bedside Esquire (a wonderful anthology) at the moment,
> but I believe it may have been "Don't Laugh Now," by J.C. Furnas.  It
> includes the original shaggy dog joke, from which the genre apparently
> takes its name.

Thanks to this great lead by John Baker, here is a further antedating of
"shaggy dog story":

shaggy dog story (OED 1946)

1937 J. C. Furnas in _Esquire_ May in _The Bedside Esquire_ (1940) 167
They say they are known as shaggy-dog stories because the story of the
shaggy dog was the first of the lot to become popular.  That can't be
true, since the shaggy dog, besides being a poor specimen, seems to have
appeared fairly recently.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
  Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at     

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