George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Mon Mar 1 16:04:25 UTC 2010

> First, George:  I'm wondering how you decided upon the sense "watchman".

Because the boy was being tried for an assault upon watchmen.


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

----- Original Message -----
From: "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
Date: Sunday, February 28, 2010 9:30 pm
Subject: Re: "leatherhead"

> First, George:  I'm wondering how you decided upon the sense
> "watchman".  In your quote below, isn't "leather-head" rather the
> OED's "slang, a blockhead" (s.v. "leather n.")?  In which case the
> OED has it as a1700 (from a dictionary) -- and not ever again!  (Its
> other two instances of "leather-head" are the name of a bird.)  And
> the OED has "leather-headed dunce" a1668.
> Second, I find it in 1802 -- Independent Whig, published as The
> Independent Whig, and Philadelphia Commercial Gazette; Date:
> 07-28-1802; Issue: 12; Page: [2].  [EAN]
> We are informed that some leatherhead, without either talents or
> honesty, and who probably wishes to mount himself on the shoulders of
> the people, went about yesterday very busily, insinuating, that the
> Independent Whig is endeavoring to divide the republican interest.
> P.S.  The a1700 quotation is "Leather-head, a Thick-skull'd,
> Heavy-headed Fellow".  It might have been hard for O'Brien's cohorts
> to "beat  the d----d leather-heads' heads off."
> Joel
> At 2/27/2010 09:50 PM, George Thompson wrote:
> >1837:   . . . the boy O'Brien was identified as a kind of
> >powder-monkey in the action, having been seen . . . carrying his
> >arms full of stones and brick-bats in an alley way leading to the
> >houses of the rioters, and heard to exclaim, "Let's beat the d----d
> >leather-heads' heads off."
> >         N-Y D Express, September 11, 1837, p. 2, cols. 4-5
> >
> >HDAS: (3) 1845
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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