Wimp (1920) (different sense?)

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Apr 11 23:30:58 UTC 2005

How about "moral or physical weakling" as the core of the general definition ? (Though 9/25 below does seem more like "bozo.")

O'Hara's ostentatious use of the uncommon word thrice in one week suggests that he may have just learned it.  If it was new to him, he may not have had the nuances under control.


"Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET> wrote:
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Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Douglas G. Wilson"
Subject: Wimp (1920) (different sense?)

Here are some items which appeared under the byline of Neal R. O'Hara in 1920:


_Syracuse Herald_ (Syracuse NY), 24 Sep. 1920: p. 8:

<Commerce commission to disapprove your rates. The only set of wimps that
can disapprove the quick-lunch tariffs are the customers. The customers
disapprove, but they pay.>>


_Syracuse Herald_ (Syracuse NY), 25 Sep. 1920: p. 4:

[humorous hat concepts]

<for the wimps that bet a hat on election after reading the expert political


_Syracuse Herald_ (Syracuse NY), 2 Oct. 1920: p. 4:

<spotlights thrust upon 'em. But there is still a crushing percentage of
wimps that will never run one, two, three in the Greatness league.>>


These (along with the 1920 George Ade example in OED) do not seem to have
"wimp" = outright "sissy"/"coward". "Sucker" might fit, or "bozo", or
simply "guy". All of these wimps are hapless or powerless, but more or less
average citizens as far as I can see.

-- Doug Wilson

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