wacko (1938)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sun Jan 15 18:34:38 UTC 2006

* wacko, n. 'wacky person' (OED2 1977, MWCD11 1976)

Nevada State Journal, June 11, 1938, p. 6/4
[syndicated boxing column by Jack Cuddy, U.P.]
Evidently Gentleman Gene Is 'Wacky' To Think Up Galento, Gorilla Match
NEW YORK, June 10.-- Is Gene Tunney trying to become president of the
"Wackoes" in promoting the Galento-Gorilla match?
In this New York area we have a mythical but powerful organization
known as the "Wackoes." It includes most of the boxing writers and
certain celebrities connected with the punch profession. The test of
power in this organization is one's reputation for being a
"screw-ball" at any and all times.
[Column also appeared in Washington Post, June 12, 1938, p. II2/8
 Proquest HNP Doc ID 247982412]

PQ & NPA have numerous cites for "w(h)acko" in the early '40s, e.g.:

Nevada State Journal, Sep. 5, 1940, p. 10/2
Frankie Kovacs entered the national singles tennis championships a
firm favorite for the "wacko" title, but the odds dropped today when
Henry Prusoff, the "mad Russian" from Seattle, decided he was
homesick, tried to throw his match, then changed his mind and won it.
Washington Post, Oct. 6, 1941, p. 18/7
Add Whacky Series Fan
This leaves things pretty much to my favorite whacko, Harry S. Thobe,
of Oxford, Ohio. "Old Toby," as the 72-year-old-fan is called, affects
a white suit that looks as if it had been slept in since his
twenty-first birthday. He touches this off with a battered straw hat,
sport shoes, bright red necktie, a profusion of Cincinnati and Dodger
buttons, a couple of sewed-on pennants, four rings with rabbit's feet
instead of gems, and a tiny red parasol.
[Proquest HNP Doc ID 227724122]

--Ben Zimmer

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