"drop" in sports: lose (1884), defeat (1920)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Thu Apr 21 06:00:41 UTC 2005

Putting aside the Hu-n/b representatives of 1884, here's an antedating for
"drop" = 'lose (a game)':

1882 _Boston Globe_ 16 Jul. 12/5 The home team dropped the game today
through errors by Hines, Wright and Denney. ... In the tenth inning Hines
dropped a long fly from Morrill's bat which let in the winning runs.

This cite (notably not a headline) suggests that "dropping the game"
originated via a metaphorical extension of "dropping the ball (through
clumsy play)".  Makes sense, based on similar metaphors like "they let the
game slip through their fingers".

--Ben Zimmer

On Tue, 19 Apr 2005 15:45:36 -0400, Benjamin Zimmer
<bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU> wrote:

>On Tue, 19 Apr 2005 12:29:08 -0700, Jonathan Lighter
><wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM> wrote:
>>Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU> wrote:
>>>The cites below are from a quick search on Proquest headlines -- earlier
>>>examples can no doubt be found without much difficulty.
>>>* drop = 'lose (a game)'
>>>Union Nine Drops Its First Game to the Hun Representatives.
>>>Boston Globe, May 25, 1884, p. 3
>>Ben, who are the "Hun representatives" in 1884 ?
>Sorry, that was a mis-scanning by Proquest that I neglected to
>double-check.  The actual headline reads:
>"St. Louis Union Nine Drops Its First Game to the Hub Representatives."
>The "Hub Representatives" were the Boston baseball team (then known as the
>Beaneaters or simply the Bostons, eventually known as the Braves).
>--Ben Zimmer

More information about the Ads-l mailing list