Thu Dec 15 01:19:05 UTC 2005

        From 1842:  "Having thus fully and unanswerably silenced
objection-makers of all descriptions to the above-mentioned points, I
shall now wield my pen in defence of another vulnerated punctilio.  The
last number of the "Podunk Pop-gun," (a semi-annual publication, issued
from the Brass Foundry of Peter Pampoodle, Esq., once a century,)
contains the following:  "He" (meaning me) "says," say they, "that he
followed that infallible guide of genius, the intellectual nose.  It may
be so; we follow the same guide ourselves; but we cannot perceive how
that proves his Poem an epic.""   Augustus Peirce, The Rebelliad; Or,
Terrible Transactions at the Seat of the Muses:  A Poem in Four Cantos 8
(1842) (via Google Print).

        While it is not directly responsive to your question, I was also
struck by this passage, the exact meaning of which is unclear to me:
"Any how, I believe it came from that little hum-bird of a girl that we
caught at that small scrape we had with the old podunk of a Scotchman
and his folks, at the Lower Falls, a week or two ago."  Daniel P.
Thompson (Daniel Pierce), The Green Mountain Boys:  A Historical Tale of
the Early Settlement of Vermont 214 (1848 copyright; rev. ed. 1853) (via
Making of America).

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Jonathan Lighter
Sent: Wednesday, December 14, 2005 7:24 PM
Subject: Podunk

Can anybody winkle out a few pre-1846 exx. of "Podunk" that do *not*
seem to refer to actual localities ?

  Actual "Podunks" are in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Connecticut
also has a Podunk Pond and a Podunk River, and there's a Lake Podunk in
Maine.  The most notable additional Podunks are probably the two in

  But I want figurative Podunks.  The kind defined by Maurice Weseen
(1933) as "imaginary typical small town[s] situated in the sticks and
inhabited by hicks."

  BTW, the word has morphed from a proper noun and attributive into a
plain adjective in the past twenty-five years or so, as in "some podunk
country" and "some podunk guy."


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