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_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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 
(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:
LAST DAY FOR WILLIAM
FARNUM’S NEW PICTURE
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 - http://www.americandialect.org
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