Snerd (1948-1951)

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Aug 5 11:26:13 UTC 2004

Still in limited use, as a newsgroup search reveals.


"Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET> wrote:
---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Douglas G. Wilson"
Subject: Snerd (1948-1951)

This is a possible ancestor of "nerd" (which dates from 1951 AFAIK), as
conjectured in HDAS etc.

"Snerd" = "Mortimer Snerd", the name of Edgar Bergen's puppet. The usual
meaning was either "idiot" or "bumpkin". In some cases I think it may have
had a sense of "puppet"/"dupe" too. It did NOT have a sense of "egghead" or
"technical whiz" as far as I can tell.

Here are a few examples. There are others, earlier and later.


_Walla Walla Union Bulletin_ (Walla Walla WA), 1 Feb. 1948: p. 12, col. 4:

<<[title] Russians Not To Be Trusted / .... / [section title] They're Not
Snerds / That Stalin, Molotov and Vishinsky are plain stupid is a
conclusion to be wary of.>>


_Zanesville Signal_ (Zanesville OH), 18 March 1949: p. 4, col. 3:

<<.... the Communists have turned to the colleges, arts and entertainment
fields, always good for a large crop of cultural Snerds to work for
pro-Soviet policies.>>


_Waukesha Daily Freeman_ (Waukesha WI), 29 Aug. 1949: p. 6(?), col. 3:

<admitting, in his infinite greenness: "I come from Gurkee's Corners. Have a


_Bridgeport Telegram_ (Bridgeport CN), 19 July 1951: p. 3, col. 2:

<patronizing social vulgarity of the Roosevelts which made drooling Mortimer
Snerds of some Southern editors, had written a challenge to Byrd, himself.>>


-- Doug Wilson

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