E for Effort (1940)

Wilson Gray hwgray at EARTHLINK.NET
Tue May 4 15:20:00 UTC 2004

Oops! I forgot to state that, in my experience, "E for effort" was only
a sarcastic saying by teachers ("Well, I guess I can give you E for
effort," said with a sneer) and not an actual grade. All actual grades
were, in my experience, numerical - 100, 99, 98, 97, ... 0 - through
high school (graduated May 8, 1954, in Saint Louis). Only at the
college level were letter grades, A, B, C, D, F (with "+" or "-" added
when relevant) used. These letter grades each had a numerical value,
but it was not fixed, in those days. The values could be 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
or 4, 3, 2, 1, 0, varying by institution, before the latter version
become standard across the country.

-Wilson Gray

On May 4, 2004, at 10:33 AM, Barbara Need wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Barbara Need <nee1 at MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: E for Effort (1940)
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------
> When I was first getting letter grades (1960s, near Cleveland), it
> was A, B, C, D, and F. Early in the 70s (now north of Boston), they
> changed the grading system and E stood for Excellent. Even though I
> had not experienced a grading system where E was the worst grade, I
> found it less than informative.
> Barbara Need
> UChicago--Linguistics
>> How old are you? I'm nearly 70 and it's "E for effort" that I recall
>> from my elementary-school years in the early '40's. "A for effort"
>> feels like a hypercorrection, as you imply when you say that "'A' is
>> easier to understand."
>> -Wilson Gray
>> On May 3, 2004, at 11:17 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>>> Thank you for this interesting history, Barry.
>>> I've heard that version, but I more commonly hear, and I use "A for
>>> effort". When I hear "E", I always wonder if it's a failing grade, so
>>> the
>>> "A" is easier to understand.
>>> Benjamin Barrett
>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]
>>>> E FOR EFFORT--3,270 Google hits, 2,120 Google Groups hits
>>>>  Who grades with this letter?
>>>>  Was this coined by Bing Crosby in ROAD TO SINGAPORE?

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