Origins of "soft core," "Yippies," "Twinkie defense"

Grant Barrett gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG
Mon Nov 30 16:31:30 UTC 2009

After a cursory trawl through the databases, I can't prove or disprove any of his claims. Does he have published evidence to support them?

For what they're worth, here are my rules for dealing with people who claim coinages.

1. Credit for a coinage is like credit for bravery: it's only worth listening to if someone else makes the claim on one's behalf.

2. Acts of coinage are about as common, and most are about as insignificant, as acts of defecation. If the act of coinage didn't cause hearings before Congress or an audience before the Queen, the Pope, or the President, or better, didn't cause God himself to come down and point a fiery finger, then it's not worth mentioning.

3. Nobody gets credit unless they can provide verifiable, dated, credited, published matter to back up their coinage claim. It's not an odds or probabilities game. Either there's printed evidence or there isn't.

Following these saves me a great deal of dealing with ditherers and weirdos, like the fellow who swore he coined "laser" (which is just about as known an etymology as one will ever find) and all the people who "remember" that they coined "gleek."

Those rules are doubly important for obituaries, which are often written to be, and perceived as, the final word on a person's life.

(Regarding "soft core porn": if he coined it, I'm betting it was "soft-core pornography" or "soft-core porno" rather than "porn.")

Grant Barrett
grantbarrett at
234 7th Ave. #3
San Mateo, CA 94401
(646) 286-2260

On Nov 28, 2009, at 21:01, Gareth Branwyn wrote:

> I am currently editing an article by Paul Krassner (of "The Realist"
> fame) in which he claims to have coined the terms "soft core
> porn" (1958), "Yippies" (1967) and "the Twinkie defense" (which he
> says he made up in 1979 during the trial of Dan White for the double
> execution of SF Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk).
> Does anyone here know more about the origins of these terms? I assume
> he made up Yippies, or was at least involved in the coinage, since he
> was a co-founder of the Youth International Party. His telling of it
> in this article makes it sound like he came up with both Youth
> International Party and Yippies (in that order), but I've read other
> accounts that say Anita Hoffman came up with Youth International Party
> after Yippies was coined, so that the group would have a more formal
> name for mainstream press purposes.
> Any other information folks here might have would be greatly
> appreciated.
> Gareth
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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