antedating (?) of "hep" 1907

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 5 18:50:22 UTC 2008

Trivialities, for what they're worth:

I've noticed that, on his records, Cab Calloway seems to use "hep" as
an exclamation, but "hip" as the adjective, like, "I'm hip! Hep! Hep!"

Ca.1944, my friends began to laugh at me for using "hep" as an
adjective, instead of "hip," as though "hep" had never been hip! Used
to annoy the hell out of me, especially since, e.g. "Get _hep_ to the
jive!" and such like were still living expressions.


On Fri, Sep 5, 2008 at 11:31 AM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: antedating (?) of "hep" 1907
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Quoting Jesse Sheidlower <jester at PANIX.COM>:
>> On Fri, Sep 05, 2008 at 08:34:47AM -0400, Stephen Goranson wrote:
>>> OED has 1908 for slang "hep" {and a 1941 "Joe Hep" mention) and 1904
>>> for "hip."
>>> At the Actor's Boarding House and Other Stories, By Helen Green (NY:
>>> Brentano's.
>>> 1907).
>>> p. 31 "I'm hep," said Terence, briefly, feeling in his pocket for the short
>>> billy which had won him so many scraps over on "the Avenoo."
>> HDAS cites this example from Green, along with four or more
>> earlier examples of _hep_ (depending on how you regard the
>> dating of this and other books).
>> Jesse Sheidlower
>> OED
> Yes, thanks, I should have checked there. Now that I have, it still
> appears that
> the collocation Joe Hep in this sense may be an antedating. The book was
> published in 1907 but it says that the stories have all appreared in (NY?)
> Morning Telegraph (in 1906?).
> Stephen
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