Eugene Landy, RIP

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Apr 1 04:47:01 UTC 2006

Eugene Landy, best known as the weirdly overprotective therapist of
Beach Boy Brian Wilson, died last week. Few of the obits have
mentioned that Landy also wrote _The Underground Dictionary_, a
pioneering work in countercultural lexicography. The New York Times
gives the dictionary a one-line mention, while The Telegraph gives it
a paragraph:

In 1971 he published The Underground Dictionary, a lexicon of the
hippie jargon that Landy had picked up in his work at a community
health centre for young people, much of it drug- and sex-related.
Definitions included "Groovy: great, fantastic, joyful, happy'; "Grip:
masturbate" and "Flower: the philosophy of the flower comes from the
fact that the flower is among the most natural of all things in
nature; it is free, needing nothing more than the earth, air and
sunshine to live. It is peaceful and lives its beauty freely." Landy
described the book as "a much needed communications bridge between the
Establishment and underground culture", and dedicated it, in the
parlance of the day, to "my people".

About 40 entries from Landy's dictionary are cited in OED2/3, and a
dozen of them are first cites: "(get off my) case", "do (a drug)",
"dry fuck", "jive" (a.), "mindfucker" (= 'manipulator'), "munchies",
"ninny jug", "nut" (v., 'have sex with'), "overground" ('the
establishment'), "stoner", "violate" ('find guilty of parole
violation'), "withdraw" ('stop using an addictive drug'). And apropos
of a recent thread, he also had an informative entry on "out of one's

(I'm sure some of the OED2 cites have already been antedated. Surely
the adj. "jive" goes back long before 1971?)

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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