"wimp" in the '70s

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Fri Aug 12 18:21:28 UTC 2005

* "wimp" attrib./adj. (OED 1979)

1971 L. BANGS in _Who Put the Bomp?_ (Winter/Spring) So what makes James
any different? That he was a spoiled rich kid, makes it with Carly Simon
(woo woo) and sings wimp?
[p. 114 of _Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung_ (1987)]

1971 D. ANDERLE in _Outlaw Blues_ (backpages.com) The whole Beach Boy
mystique, the Beach Boy thing, the thing that I used to get a great deal
of personal fun out of, is when people would arbitrarily slough off or
slam the Beach Boys as being wimp, or whatever they wanted to call 'em,
they really had no idea the incredible complex thing that is happening
amongst a group of people.

1971 D. ANDERLE in _Outlaw Blues_ (backpages.com) Brian was taking a great
deal of slamming at that time from the heavy critics about them being, you
know, "Wimp-rock," and "ball-less rock," and "high school sopranos" and
the whole number.

1973 _Creem_ Feb. (backpages.com) With squeaking frets, chandelier piano,
a persistent wimp melody and oblique scraps of California Myth scattered
throughout, 'Ventura Highway' is the group's stupidest hit yet and a real
contender for this month's Blandrock crown.

1973 _Phonograph Record_ Nov. (backpages.com) With the cheers still
ringing, they launched into 'Tonight', proving once and for all that they
are not "wimp-rockers".

1974 _Creem_ Jan. (backpages.com) It's got the right hooks in all the
right places, great harmony, and an instrumental track that's ballsy
enough to shut the flapping mouths of those who previously labeled them

* "wimp out" (OED 1981)

1974 L. BANGS in _Creem_ Aug. Should we wimp out with a Circus-type
spread: "The Hemorrhoids That Almost Ended Peter Wolf's Career"?
[p. 142 of _Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung_ (1987)]

* "wimp it up" (not in OED)

1976 L. BANGS in _Music Gig_ Oct. (backpages.com) The main problem with
the Eagles is that they simply can't accept their Marin County mushiness
and just wimp it up right and tight they feel compelled to hold on to some
Bad Company notion of manhood.

* "wimp-out" (not in OED)

1978 _NME_ 3 June (backpages.com) There's still a miraculously high energy
level – no wimp-out, Jack; believe it – but what it's about now is going
berserk and enjoying yourself.

1979 _New York Rocker_ Sep. (backpages.com) Didn't Bators fear accusations
of wimp-out from whatever fans he'd managed to amass with his old band?

--Ben Zimmer

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