Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sun Mar 26 03:40:55 UTC 2006

The term _lunatic fringe_ was introduced by Theodore Roosevelt in
an article about modern art in the periodical _Outlook_, 29 Mar. 1913.  He
also used the term in two books of his published in that year.

What has never previously been noted, I believe, is that Roosevelt was
playing on an existing phrase referring to hair.  Below are some

1874 _Oliver Optic's Magazine_ Feb. 140 ff. (American Periodical Series)
"The girls!" exclaimed Miss Lizzie, lifting her eyebrows till they met the
"lunatic fringe" of hair which straggled uncurled down her forehead.

1877 _Christian Union_ 14 Mar. 234 (American Periodical Series)  "LUNATIC
fringe" is the name giving [sic] in New York to the fashion of cropping
the hair and letting the ends hang down over the forehead.

1880 _N.Y. Times_ 21 Mar. 7 (ProQuest)  I am sure "Montagues" are a vast
improvement on those straight abominations, or if you prefer a more
complimentary and man-like name, "lunatic fringe."

1880 _Wash. Post_ 23 Aug. 1 (ProQuest)  Mr. Knowles, Atlanta, hair cut
lunatic fringe, coat cut heart shape, eyes cossed; this lovely creature
wore a diamond the size of a walnut in his left ear.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
   Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at yale.edu               http://quotationdictionary.com

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

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