hurt locker (1966)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Mar 5 06:03:36 UTC 2010

On Fri, Mar 5, 2010 at 12:29 AM, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
> Latest Word Routes column is "hurt locker," military slang dating back
> to Vietnam:
> HDAS has it from 1978 -- Google News Archive returns cites from '66
> and '67 in AP dispatches from John T. Wheeler.

And now I see that Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver, who has filed a
defamation suit against the makers of "The Hurt Locker," claims he
coined the expression!

Sarver said the very title of the movie was a phrase he coined in
Iraq, and that [screenwriter Mark] Boal asked its meaning after
hearing him use it. Boal has since copyrighted the phrase, Fieger
Sarver explained today that the term is akin to Davy Jones Locker,
where legend says drowned sailors are kept.
"It's just a horrible place you go when you mess up," Sarver said.
"It's a mental state. A place that's full of pain and hurt."

Just four decades too late...

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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