square from Delaware (1939)

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Wed Sep 3 20:32:06 UTC 2008

On Wed, Sep 03, 2008 at 03:57:30PM -0400, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
> ---
> 1939 _New York Amsterdam News_ [Dan Burley's "Backdoor Stuff"] 27 May
> 20/1 "Lawd! I'm a square from Delaware, a Lane from Spokane, a killer
> from Manila and a Home from Rome," Allen Drew beats out.
> ---
> 1940 _New York Amsterdam News_ 2 Mar. 21/2 So don't be the "square
> from Delaware," just lace up your boots and "dig this jive."
> ---
> Also c. 1940, Fats Waller released a song called "(You're a) Square
> >From Delaware" (Bluebird B-10730, B-side of "Send Me Jackson"). And I
> believe the expression shows up in the 1941 movie _Ball of Fire_. Is
> this the origin for "square" = 'unhip person'?

Here are the two examples of _square_ in the shooting script:

1941 C. Brackett & 'B. Wilder' _Ball of Fire_ (film script) 28
All right, gates. All right, squares, plant your frames solid
in your chairs and latch onto the roller coaster. We're going
through the night life of Manhattan--every juice joint.

1941 C. Brackett & 'B. Wilder' _Ball of Fire_ (film script) 35
A professor!.. Just a square from Delaware.

Jesse Sheidlower

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

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