The stink/The stank

Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Fri Jan 21 21:58:32 UTC 2005

On Jan 21, 2005, at 1:40 PM, Mullins, Bill wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Mullins, Bill" <Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL>
> Subject:      Re: The stink/The stank
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------
>> From: American Dialect Society
>> [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Wilson Gray
>> Sent: Friday, January 21, 2005 12:09 AM
>> Subject: Re: The stink/The stank
>> Good point, Bev! I shouldn't have let Jonathan bogart me into
>> a defensive posture.
> Bogart?  Don't know the verb that way.  Bogart isn't in the OED,
> and I need to remind myself to look it up in HDAS tonight (just
> got a copy of Vol 1, ha!).
> The only way I know the verb "to bogart" is like the song,
> "Don't bogart that joint, my friend".  (My interest was, ah,
> purely academic -- that is, I _was_ in college at the time ....)

Back in the '60's in LA, amongst the colored, at least, "bogart" - very
often also overcorrected to "BO god" by young peppers who didn't
remember Humphey Bogart - had the same meaning as "gorilla," which
meant, "force one to unball one's fists." that is, being bad enough to
cause an opponent, by sheer force of personality, to abandon his
opposition, without the necessity of actually having to kick said
opponent's ass. WRT "bogarting" a joint, I interpreted that to mean
that the alpha toker had the habit of forcing his fellows to ask/beg
him for a hit, as a means of underlining his status as "the man."

Schoolyard bullies did literally say to a kid who was contemplating
standing up for himself, "Unball your fists, man! Don't make me have to
hurt you!" Of course, even after the kid had unballed his fists, the
bully would hurt him, anyway,  just on general principles, that being
the nature of bullies.

-Wilson Gray

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