Michael Quinion wordseditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Tue Apr 5 10:05:15 UTC 2005

On this side of the pond, we've been enjoying "Deadwood". One word
puzzles me. Ian McShane's character, Al Swearengen, often refers to
the customers at his bar (and other people he doesn't respect) as
"hoopleheads". (Or have I misheard it?)

HDAS implies that the word is from the cartoon character, which first
appeared in 1923, with the first example of "hooplehead" being from
1979. That would make Swearengen's term anachronistic. That wouldn't
be surprising, but might the scriptwriters be drawing on another
usage unknown to my reference books?

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words
E-mail: <wordseditor at worldwidewords.org>
Web: <http://www.worldwidewords.org/>

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