Antedating of "Jazz" as Verb

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Thu Sep 25 12:33:26 UTC 2008

The recent digitization of the San Francisco Chronicle by ProQuest does not seem to provide an antedating of the word "jazz."  However, it does antedate my previous discovery of the earliest occurrence of "jazz" as a verb, in a context that is cryptic but that connects with other early West Coast baseball usages of "jazz" that have been discovered and are newly incorporated into the OED:

jazz, v. (OED 1915)

1914 _S.F. Chronicle_ 7 May 10 (ProQuest Historical Newspapers)  (headline)  Venice Tigers Step Further Out in Front as Seals Lose  C. S. Smith Almost Jazzes Game Cinched by Venice.

The body of the article describes reliever C. S. Smith almost blowing a baseball game against the Oakland Oaks.  I don't see the word "jazz" used in the body of the article, but the body is poorly OCR'd (the headline is very clear) and I will study it more carefully when I have the time.  I guess the usage of "jazz" here seems on its face to mean "blows, messes up."

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                                            Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and        YALE BOOK OF QUOTATIONS
  Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale University Press
Yale Law School                                           ISBN 0300107986
e-mail: fred.shapiro at

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