Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Nov 6 14:45:17 UTC 2010

I just looked for some more examples of "shellac" in the Hartford
Courant (Connecticut). There is another instance in 1923 that occurs
about a week after the "CUBS SHELLAC REDS, 2 TO 0" example. Below
might be the second earliest known example of "shellac" being used to
describe one entity besting another entity in some type of contest or
struggle, i.e., Obama's general usage.

Cite: 1923 July 2, The Hartford Courant, "YANKEES SHELLAC ATHLETICS BY
4-0 COUNT, MAKING CLEAN SWEEP", Page 7, Hartford, Conn. (ProQuest)

New York. July 1--The New York Americans made a clean sweep of their
four game series with Philadelphia, winning today by a score of 4 to

(I could not locate "shellac" in the body of the article. The OCR
results on the degraded text in the body this article are probably
terrible. Except for the headline this article is largely opaque to
full text searchers I suspect: like so many articles.)

Here the game is a shutout as in the earlier instance. It is also the
last game of a clean sweep.

(The geographical distribution of instances is biased by the fact that
I lazily only looked in the Hartford Courant to find this.)

On Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 11:27 AM, Ben Zimmer
<bgzimmer at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: shellacking
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> On Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 11:10 AM, Garson O'Toole wrote:
>> > Excellent article, Ben. Here is an example of "shellac" in the domain
>> > of baseball in 1923. Interestingly, the score is only 2-0, a shutout.
>> > During a quick scan of the difficult to read text I was only able to
>> > locate "shellac" in the headline.
>> >
>> > Cite: 1923 Jun 25, The Hartford Courant, "LUQUE'S STREAK ENDS WHEN
>> > CUBS SHELLAC REDS, 2 TO 0", Page 12, Hartford, Conn. (ProQuest)
> Thanks! I'll add an update including the cite. That even antedates my
> boxing examples, so it was really spreading fast on sports pages.
> On Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 11:17 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>> The low-score shutout is interesting. Perhaps the original sense (quickly
>> forgotten) was closer to "whitewash," which AFAIK is always limited to
>> shutouts.
> Well, the example I cite from a year later, June 1925, has a pitcher
> getting "shellacked," but his team only lost 7-4. Here's the box score
> of the game in question:
> --bgz
> --
> Ben Zimmer
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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