Further Antedating of "Sexy"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jan 7 01:58:35 UTC 2004

At 8:33 PM -0500 1/6/04, Fred Shapiro wrote:
>sexy (OED 1928)
>1925 _Oshkosh_ (Wis.) _Daily Northwestern_ 7 Feb. 9 (Newspaperarchive.com)
>"Welcome Stranger" is just what its title implies.  It's certainly welcome
>in these days of drab sexy plays and forced humor.
>Fred Shapiro
1) Are we sure this "sexy" means what we think it does if it's an
antedate?  "drab sexy plays"?
2) Doesn't the bracketed OED cite below suggest that "sexy" was
already well-established in English by 1925?  (Well enough to be
known to correspond to a lexical gap in French, for example.)

[1925 La Nouvelle Revue Française Jan. 313 Depuis que Joyce a publié
un livre qu'ils croient 'sexy' --cet état d'esprit n'a pas
d'équivalent français--on s'en empare..que sa méthode sert de modèle
à des gens qui..se disent surréalistes.]

Actually, now that I think of it, both the NRF context and the
Oshkosh drab, sexy plays evidently involve the first sense listed by
the OED ('concerned with or engrossed in sex') rather than the now
more common second one ('sexually attractive or provocative'), the
latter showing up unambiguously in e.g. Farrell's "dark, sexy-looking
waitress" from 1935.


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