newly-wed(s) and nearly-dead(s)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Dec 6 15:10:19 UTC 2008

There's a new cite on the Double-Tongued Dictionary for "the newlywed and
the nearly dead" (referring to San Antonio):

I've heard this epithet used in various parts of the U.S. (and Canada too --
in Victoria, B.C.). Here are some early cites (first one is snippet view, so
not verifiable):

1932? _New Zealand Railways Magazine_ Even in modern times the mystery meal
is not uncommon among newly-weds and nearly-deads. [snippet]
1940 _Hartford Courant_ 21 Apr. 16/4 At the swanky Royal Hawaiian they like
to say that the Halekulani is peopled by newlyweds and nearly-deads.
1947 Cleveland Amory _The Proper Bostonians_ 351 Brookline's Longwood
Towers, familiarly known as the home of the newly wed and the nearly dead.
1949 Ralph Hancock _Fabulous Boulevard_ 149 Los Angeles is either a harlot
or a virgin. ... It's either a God forsaken desert or a garden of Eden --
filled with newlyweds or nearly-deads.
1952 _New York Times_ 23 Mar. (Book Review) 20/1 Nowadays, during winters
among the newlyweds and nearly-deads in St- Augustine, he is seldom reminded
of his once "nation-wide famousness."
1964 _Western Folklore_ 23(3) July 191 Santa Barbara has long been known by
younger people living there as "the home of the newly~wed and nearly dead,"
a reference to the fact that the city is a favorite for honeymoons and

Sometimes also with "overfed(s)":

1950? _Youth Leaders Digest_ She summed up her impressions of some of the
folks she met with the remark that they were "newlyweds, overfeds or nearly
deads." [snippet]
1965 _Newport (R.I.) Daily News_ 5 Oct. "No," she said. "Nobody here but
newly~weds, nearly deads and over~feds." [quoting a waitress at the resort
village of Tadasausoc, Quebec]

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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