1913 slang "gazipe"; draft of working paper

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Sun Jan 25 20:55:33 UTC 2004

  I'm preparing a Comments on Etymology working paper of the 1913
slang article Barry Popik shared with ads-l and would like to add a
brief discussion of "gazipe." Below my signoff is a draft of what I
thus far have. Any comments/corrections/etc. would of course be

Gerald Cohen

[draft of treatment on 1913 slang "gazipe"; follows presentation of
1913 article]:

        Gazipe appears in the above 1913 article in the boxed items
at the beginning and towards the end:
        '"Now, out in San Francisco the most popular word is 'the old
jazz.'  It
        means anything you may happen to want it to.  There was a St.
Louis   man there who thought that he was real cute.  He was trying
to kid me,      and just to show him I was wise I said 'Hod
dickety-dog.' 'I see you're there with the gazipe,' he says.  Get

        On Jan. 22, 2004 I wrote to ads-l that 'gazipe' here appears
neither in HDAS nor in Cassell's Dictionary of Slang and in the 1913
context seems to mean 'the latest slang.' I asked for any further
elucidation, and the next day Douglas Wilson (douglas at NB.NET) replied:
        'I don't think that's necessarily what it means, although I
find this article hard to follow. Here's a clearer item, at
Newspaperarchive, from St. Louis, carried in the Sheboygan Press
(Sheboygan WI) on 25 March 1913 (p. 4, col. 2):
        "'Gazipe,' Latest Term for a Wood Pile Denizen". Here
"gazipe" is     equated to (besides the woodpile denizen) "joker" or
"stinger", i.e., a      problematic point in a contract. It is said
to be of theatrical origin.

        'Reminiscent, I think, of "gazabo", "gazooney", "gazoopus", etc., and
particularly of "gazump" = "swindle", IF the article is reasonably accurate.'

        A day later (Jan. 24) Geoffrey Nathan clarified 'stinger' as
mentioned in the 1913 article quoted above by Douglas Wilson:
        'In contemporary theater terminology (especially musical
theater) a "stinger" is a single accented note at the end of a
musical number that serves as a cue for the actor(s) to take a final
pose, throw out their arms, look in some direction etc and freeze.
I've never heard the word "joker" used in that sense, and I don't
know if it ever meant that, nor whether "stinger" referred to a
problem in a contract.
        'I have no reference for the "accented note" sense (it's not
in the online OED) but since I've performed in a number of amateur
and semi-professional musicals in various parts of the country I can
attest to its meaning.
Geoffrey S. Nathan/Department of English, Computing and Information
Technology/Wayne State University.'

        Now, if gazipe is a woodpile denizen (article cited by
Douglas Wilson), this sounds like a scorpion, which fits in well with
'stinger' in its extended meaning 'problematic point in a contract.'
I.e., negotiations are very promising until one is unexpectedly
bitten by a (figurative) scorpion whose presence one had not been
aware of.

        So the meaning of 'gazipe' in the quote ('He was trying to
kid me, and just to show him I was wise I said "Hod dickety-dog." "I
see you're there with the gazipe,' he says.  Get it?"') seems to be:
'repartee.' One is striking back with a 'stinger'--a sharp, perhaps
unexpected reply, a sort of zinger. Note that the "gazipe" quote
appears in a brief passage which says that a certain slang term ("the
old jazz") "means anything you may happen to want it to" and where
"Hod dickety dog" also seems to be used rather elastically. The
meaning of 'gazipe' may have been similarly stretched here. As for
mention of theatrical "gazipe" ("joker, stinger", the reference would
not be to a note in a musical but to someone skilled in repartee;
hence: "joker."


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