Antedating of "wiggle room" 1965

Sam Clements SClements at NEO.RR.COM
Sun May 16 00:51:53 UTC 2004

Nope.  Not the extra room that your toes need in your new pair of Buster Browns.  Rather the term that politicians love. 

M-W and William Safire date it from 1978.

(Newspaperarchive)  7 April, 1965  _Gettysburg Times_ 7/6  

<<In another area, the senators differed on U.S,. conduct in the war in South Viet Nam.  Clark(ed--Sen. Joseph S. Clark, D-PA) said "We've gone about to the outer limit" in military action against the Communist guerrillas.  He said he wants "wiggle room" left for negotiations to avoid a major war.>>

The second cite I could find(1967) was also from Sen. Clark, in describing Johnson's War on Poverty Bill, saying that "...he was glad the Senate had given the bill some "wiggle room" ....

[I wonder if Sen. Clark actually "coined" this term?]

The third instance I could find was from 1968, a column by Joseph Kraft, where he says << use an awful phrase now current in the White House--the President's "wiggle room.">>

Mr. Safire wrote a NYTimes "On Language" column in 1984 discussing the term, and trying to decide whether "wriggle room" or "wiggle room" was the better term.  He concluded that, "...the language is the way it is and not the way it should be.  The term is 'wiggle room', and there is just no way out of it."

Sam Clements

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