Jaywalker (1915), Jaywalking (1915), Jaywalk (1916)

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Sun Jul 9 22:38:39 UTC 2006

OED has 1917.

The second cite is interesting in that it agrees with the explanation that
jay is from the sense of fool, rube, and not directly from the jaybird.

New York Times, 1 Dec 1915, p. 12 (letter to the editor):
"I beg to take issue with Police Commissioner Woods in regard to
'jaywalking' across the streets."

New York Times, 2 Dec 1915, p. 10:
"More than a little sympathy will be felt for the correspondent who
expressed resentment yesterday at the official application of the word
'jaywalkers'-a truly shocking name and highly opprobrious-to people who
cross the city streets in the middle of the blocks instead of at their ends.
"That may be a bringing of rustic habit into the city, and, on general
principles, that is not to be commended, since it usually indicates
indifference to the unlikeness of rural and urban conditions. But a
proceeding is not necessarily 'jay' because it is a country custom, and, as
a matter of fact, city folk can give, and some of them do, a reason more
than fairly good for crossing the streets where the police say they should
"That being the case, if much more is heard about 'jaywalking,' some bold
person may suggest a law, not forbidding but commanding, for all the
practice thus disrespectfully described."

Washington Post, 5 March 1916, p.A5:
"In this connection, it is said, with the opening of good weather Maj.
Pullman will arrange another day of education of 'walk-rite' by the Boy
Scouts. The initial efforts of the boys in that direction were badly
handicapped by the weather the day they were out educating pedestrians
against the 'jaywalk.'"

Atlanta Constitution, 23 April 1916, p. 12:
"A gang of men [.] will be set to work at the break of dawn with brushes and
whitewash drawing 'jaywalk' lines cross the downtown streets."

--Dave Wilton
  dave at wilton.net

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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