WOTY Candidate: Tase

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Dec 24 00:08:49 UTC 2007

More here (though at the time I had only dated "tase" to 1988):


On Dec 23, 2007 4:14 PM, Baker, John <JMB at stradley.com> wrote:
>        Fred Shapiro has already named "Don't tase me, bro" as the
> quotation of the year, and the verb to tase, meaning to shock with an
> electroshock weapon meant to stun from a distance, also seems a
> plausible candidate for word of the year.  The earliest use of the verb
> I see is from the Miami Herald (via Westlaw) on 5/27/1984:
>        <<The Los Angeles Police Department most frequently uses the
> Taser to quiet drugged suspects, particularly those on PCP.
>        "They are as strong as gorillas, and we have female police
> officers who are five feet tall," Cudio said. "It wouldn't make sense to
> punch it out. So those people get Tased.">>
>        Tase is a back-formation from taser.  According to Wikipedia,
> and news articles from 2006 and 2007 that it cites in support, "taser"
> is an acronym for Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle, in reference to the
> fictional character Tom Swift.  Tom Swift did not, I believe, have a
> middle name or initial in the stories, and the original name of TASER
> Systems, Inc., the now-defunct company that made the earliest tasers,
> was TSER Systems, Inc.  Apparently the a was added to make the acronym
> easier to pronounce and to enhance the resemblance to "laser" and
> "maser."  The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in 1983 registered "Taser"
> to TASER Systems, Inc. as a trademark for a "Non-Lethal Firearm -
> Namely, a Hand-Held Gun which Pyrotechnically Fires Electrically
> Conductive Darts Causing Incapacitation."  The trademark was issued in
> 1983, with a first use in commerce of 19741100.  That mark was canceled
> May 13, 2004, but there are existing "Taser" marks owned by Taser
> International, Inc.
> John Baker
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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