Antedating of "Elephant Joke"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Tue Apr 5 14:16:29 UTC 2005

I wonder if this sort of "elephant joke" (perhaps "any joke involving an elephant") should be distinguished from the narrower sort of "elephant joke" ("a humorous, often absurd or anticlimactic, elephant riddle of the sort popularized by "The Elephant Book; a book about elephants... their hopes, fears, jokes and psychological problems," by Lennie Weinrib [N.Y.: Pocket Books, 1963].)

Ex. of the second sort of "elephant joke":
        Q. "What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants come over the hill?"
        A. "Here come the elephants over the hill."

Did anyone encounter the "narrow" elephant genre before 1963 ?


Fred Shapiro <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU> wrote:
---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Fred Shapiro
Subject: Antedating of "Elephant Joke"

elephant joke (OED 1966)

1954 _Edwardsville_ (Ill.) Intelligencer 15 May (

Republicans have offered a $1 bounty on elephant jokes to be published in
a pamphlet as part of the celebration marking the party's founding here
100 years ago.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
Access and Lecturer in Legal Research Yale University Press,
Yale Law School forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at

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