origin of "joint" = low place of resort

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Wed Jul 23 01:08:53 UTC 2008

OED accepts this as the earliest ex. of "joint":
1821 Real Life in Ireland xvii. 199, I had my education at the boarding-school of Phelim Firebrass..; and when I slipt the joint, and fang'd the arm, he strengthened the sinews. 
HDAS on the other hand notices and rejects it. So who ya gonna trust?  The precise origin of this widely applied term seems, however, to have been noted by Barrere & Leland in 1889 (_Dictionary of Slang, Jargon, & Cant, I, 505: "Joint (American), a place of public resort, generally a "saloon," a room of a very low character. From its having been originally an adjacent, adjoining, or joint room, an annexe. All the opium-smoking dens kept by Chinese in the United States are called opium joints."
HDAS neglected to credit this derivation because OED takes no notice of "joint room." H. G. Wells, however, used it in _The Invisible Man_ (1898), ch. vi: "They had hardly entered the cellar when Mrs. Hall found she had forgotten to bring down a bottle of sarsaparilla from their joint-room."
For those not yet convinced, "joint-room" even appears as a sub-entry in Daniel Silvan Evans, _An English and Welsh Dictionary_, Vol.  II (Denbigh: Thomas Gee, 1858), p. 716: "Joint room — cydgoll, cyngbell, yetafell." 
19th C. dens of iniquity - notably for drinking and gambling - were frequently located in the back- or "joint-rooms" of general stores and the like. 

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