a put-out dog

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Fri Aug 13 22:07:01 UTC 2010

With reference to an incident in Massachusetts:

A "put-out" Dog.  [a dog is abnormally excited; is it rabid? -- someone says] . . . if the dog was not mad, he was certainly very much "put out."
New York Transcript, August 2, 1836, p. 2, col. 4  [Both instances of the phrase "put-out", and the word "mad", were italicized.  A "put-out" Dog was what passed for a headline in 1836.]

OED has put-out as a noun from 1833:
1. U.S. An annoyance or inconvenience. Obs.

1833 J. NEAL Down-Easters I. vi. 83, I shouldn't think twould be any put-out to you to take somebody else. 1843 A. S. STEPHENS High Life in N.Y. ii. 32 Don't be uneasy about the trouble, it won't be no put out to Captain Doolittle. 1856 M. H. MAXWELL Be Courteous i. 64 ‘But I shall hate you, by-and-by,..for being a hypocrite.’.. ‘Guess it won't be any put out to you,..for you are as full of hate as an egg is of meat.’

It has "put-out" as an adjective from 1899(!)
    That has been put out (in various senses of the verb); esp. (of a person): disgruntled, annoyed; unhappy, ‘fed up’ (see to put out 9d at Phrasal verbs 1).

1899 F. V. KIRBY Sport E. Central Afr. xi. 118 Grunting in a put-out sort of way. 1907 Westm. Gaz. 24 Oct. 10/3 The put-out work of some West End tailors. 1939 D. WHIPPLE Priory xii. 138 The Major was generally put-out about something, Anthea was preoccupied and Victoria as usual indifferent. 1992 Daily Star 2 July 13/2 Their chartered train sped by without stopping... It was just one of a string of fiascos that reduced the 300 put-out passengers' party to chaos.

(By the way: is there a word missing from the definition?  Or several?  "That which has been subjected to a put-out" seems more grammatical and better linked to the previous definition.  Even better would be something like "the mood of one who has been subjected to a put-out".)
(Surely the "put-out work" of 1907 is work that tailors hand over to seamstresses to do at home, which makes it an adjective connected to phrasal verb 10 c.  This was a very common exploitation of the poor in 19th C NYC -- see Jacob Riis's How the Other Half Lives, but the practice was well established by the 1830s or 1840s.  I'm not going to worm my way back to "put out" as an adjective to see what the OED has for this sense.)

Under "put" as a verb, phrasal verbs, section 1, subset 9 (put out) subsubset d, we have
    d. To cause to lose one's equanimity; to distress, upset; (in later use esp.) to annoy, irritate, vex. Usu. in pass.

1796 F. BURNEY Camilla V. X. xiv. 542, I can't say but what I'm a little put out, that Indiana should forget poor Mrs. Margland. 1822 C. LAMB Let. 20 Mar. (1935) II. 319 Deaths over-set one, and put one out long after the recent grief. 1871 MRS. H. WOOD Dene Hollow xxx, Sir Dene [was]..thoroughly put out with the captain. 1930 Punch 2 Apr. 376/1 They often began like that when they were rather put out with one another. 1960 B. CROWTHER Hollywood Rajah xiii. 210 Mayer's associates, even some he thought his closest, were seriously put out with him. 1994 Wedding & Home June-July 103/1 Apart from being a bit put out because he hadn't whisked me off to a luxury hotel, we just argued the whole week about little things.

(Here I don't think I see 1796 as a verbal use, or 1871; 1822 is.)


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

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

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