Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Tue Jun 20 11:41:12 UTC 2006

On Mon, Jun 19, 2006 at 11:25:13PM -0700, Geoffrey Nunberg wrote:
> I'm trying to track the emergence of "lib" for (small-l) "liberal" in
> the American political context. The earliest cite I've found is from
> a September 30, 1982 William Safire column in the NYT entitled "The
> Libs are Coming," which contains the sentence, " Clutching their
> compassion, commitment and concern, the Libs are coming!"  (The item
> "radic-lib" seems to go back further.)

It's probably silly of me to say anything before Fred and Ben have
had their turn, but I would point out that OED's entry Lib n.(3),
chiefly for big-L "liberal", does have this small-l quote in a
U.S. political context:

  1973 _Washington Post_ 5 Jan. B1/1 He seems to think the
  senatorial libs just couldn't get it through their thick heads
  that in reality the Family Assistance Plan was another three
  banana jackpot for bureaucratic liberalism.


Jesse Sheidlower

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

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