Early cowskin -- (n.), 1738; and (v.), 1810, 1831

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Mar 23 21:21:55 UTC 2010

A.  The OED cites "cow-skin, n.", "3. A whip of raw hide", from 1822.

1738:  American Weekly Mercury [Philadelphia]; Date: From Tuesday
February 7, to Tuesday February 14, 1737,8; Issue: 946; Page: [2],
col. 1; "From the New-York Gazette, February 7":

However as a further Mark of Honour and Respect due to this
Fraternity or black Guard, their Two Masters were waited upon (the
Thursday following) by two Carts, one after another, in a well
regulated and suitable Procession round the Town, attended by a
Number of Spectators of all Degrees, Ages, and Sizes, and were
continually complimented with Snow Balls and Dirt, and at every
Corner had five Lashes with a Cowskin well laid on each of their
naked black Backs, and then carried to Goal.

[The New-York Gazette for 1738 is not in EAN, but would presumably
antedate this by one week.]

B.  The OED cites "cow-skin" as a verb for 1799, 1836 (Mr. Crockett),
a1849 (Poe), and later.  A couple of early interdatings:

(1)  1804:

Commercial Advertiser [New York]; Date: 04-06-1804; Volume: VII;
Issue: 2013; Page: [2], col. 5.

If the person cow-skinning you, neither strikes, kicks, nor stamps on
you, swear that he struck, kicked and stamped on you.

(2)  1831, from that quick adopter of low contemporary usage, earlier
than Davy or Edgar:

1831 Aug. 17.  Nathaniel Hawthorne to Louisa Hawthorne.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne, _The Letters_, _The Centenary Edition of the
Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne_, Vol. 15, p. 214.

I make innumerable acquaintances, and sit down, ... discoursing about
... the cowskinning of Isaac Hill.


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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list