Gun Slinger (1920)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Wed Jan 3 23:11:12 UTC 2007

Here's an earlier "gun slinger." It appears to come from the movies--a  
William Farnum western.
HDAS has 1928 (citing "W10"), then 1931 from "Whispering Range." An idiot  
Wikipedian lists the HDAS cite as 1928 "Whispering Range"...I would correct  
everything and add my 1920 cite, but that's self-promotion and scholars just  
aren't allowed that. Showing my "gunslinger" work here means that it's  
peer-reviewed by slang scholars, but that's just not good enough for  Wikipedia.
OT: Yesterday, my website had its most hits ever in a single day--over  
20,000, with over 7,500 visits. About 1,500 people came over from a Wikipedia  link 
on "Statue of Liberty Play." Was this used in a bowl game this week?...For  
all that, I made $10.
Gunslinger (or Gun Slinger)
The “gunslinger” (or “gun slinger") is the legendary figure of the film  
western. The “gunslinger” term was not used in the 1800s, however; “gunman” (or 
 “gun man") is a term more of the period. It appears that the “gun slinger” 
term  first appeared with William Farnum’s western Drag Harlan in 1920.  

_Wikipedia:  Gunslinger_ (  
Gunslinger, also gunfighter, is a name given to  men in the American Old West 
who had gained a reputation as being dangerous with  a gun. 
Origin of the term 
According to the Random House  Historical Dictionary of American Slang the 
word was first used in the 1928  novel Whispering Range by Haycox. [This 
confuses the 1928 and 1931  cites—ed.] It was soon adopted by other western writers 
such as Zane Grey and  became common usage. In his introduction to The Shootist 
author Glendon  Swarthout says that gunslinger and gunfighter are modern 
terms and that the more  authentic terms for the period would have been gunman, 
pistoleer, or shootist.  While Swarthout seems to have been correct about 
gunslinger we know that Bat  Masterson used the term gunfighter in the newspaper 
articles he wrote about the  lawmen and outlaws he had known. 

(Historical Dictionary of American  Slang) 
gunslinger a western gunfighter; gunman. Now Standard English.  
1928 (cited in Webster’s 10th) 1931 Haycox Whispering Range  160: You’re one 
of Redmain’s imported gunslingers. 

_Old West  Glossary_ 
gunslinger A made-up word from Western fiction [1928]  

(Oxford English Dictionary) 
gun-slinger = GUN-MAN 
1953 in  Wentworth & Flexner Dict. Amer. Slang (1960) 236/1 The *gun-slinger  
will spend..his life behind bars. 

28 November 1920, Indianapolis  Star, pg. 8, col. 4: 
William Farnum will be the attraction at the  Keystone this week in “Drag 
Harlan,” filmed from the story by Charles Alden  Seltzer. Farnum is seen as “the 
two-gun man from Pardo,” a feared and notorious  gunfighter. That his title 
as an outlaw is undeserved, but that his skill as a  “gun slinger” is by no 
means overrated, is developed in the story. 

25  January 1921, Wyoming State Tribune (Cheyenne, WY), pg. 2, col. 1:  

Exciting  pistol duels between famous “gun slingers” of the West is one of 
the big  elements that holds the spectator’s interest in a vise-like grip while 
watching  “Drag Harlan,” the latest of the William Farnum star series 
showing at the Atlas  for the last times today. Farnum will play the part of “Drag,”
 the famous Pardo  two-gun man, who rids an entire community of its outlaws. 
A charming romance  runs parallel with the element of adventure. 

23 March 1925, Olean (NY)  Evening Herald, “The Hawk” by Dana Coolidge, pg. 
2, col. 1: 
“Git  down, you pore fool. or he’ll beef you in your tracks. That’s one of 
them Texas  gun slingers.” 

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list