Silver bullet (figurative 1945)

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 10 14:49:45 UTC 2011


Werewolves are supposedly quelled by silver bullets, but I suspect this
is a post-Ranger (i.e., post-1933) belief.

In moderate confirmation, Wiki-wacki says the silver bullet's anti-werewolf
properties were not known till 1936:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beast_of_G%C3%A9vaudan.

JL


On Sun, Jan 9, 2011 at 10:21 PM, George Thompson <george.thompson at nyu.edu>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Silver bullet (figurative 1945)
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> > The OED presents a figurative sense with a first cite in 1951.
> >
> > silver bullet, n.
> > 1. b. fig. A simple, miraculous solution to a complex and difficult
> > problem. Also (Med.): = magic bullet n.
>
> As I recall, the Lone Ranger fired silver bullets.  Did this give rise to
> the expression or was it suggested by it?    My memories of the Lone Ranger
> radio show are probably from the late 1940s.
>
> GAT
>
> George A. Thompson
> Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
> Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Date: Sunday, January 9, 2011 6:01 am
> Subject: Silver bullet (figurative 1945)
>  To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
>
> > Fred Shapiro discussed "silver bullet" in a NYT blog post on Thursday.
> > (Vic Steinbok and others discussed the phrase "dodging a silver
> > bullet" in October on the list.)
> >
> >
> http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/06/quotes-uncovered-silver-bullets/
> >
> > The OED presents a figurative sense with a first cite in 1951.
> >
> > silver bullet, n.
> > 1. b. fig. A simple, miraculous solution to a complex and difficult
> > problem. Also (Med.): = magic bullet n.
> > 1951    Bedford (Pa.) Gaz. 19 Sept. 1/3   There are those who warn
> > against viewing the atom as a magic weapon . I agree. This is not a
> > silver bullet which can deliver itself or otherwise work military
> > miracles.
> >
> > A 1945 newspaper article profiled the battleship U. S. S. Pennsylvania
> > aka "Old Pennsy" and used the term "silver bullet" in a way that may
> > fit the definition above. The following text occurred at the end of
> > the article:
> >
> > Cite: 1945 March 20, New York Times, Old Pennsy, Page 18, New York,
> > New York. (ProQuest)
> >
> > She was the first American battleship to enter Leyte Gulf, and she
> > stayed there thirty-seven days defying many a Japanese suicide squad.
> > At Surigao Strait she helped send a couple of enemy battleships down
> > to Davy Jones' scrap pile. It was her guns again that opened our
> > drumfire in Lingayen Gulf.
> >
> > They say you can't lay a ghost except with silver bullets. The
> > Japanese have no silver bullets for the Pennsy.
> >
> >
> > In other words, the Japanese military have no simple solution to the
> > difficult problem of the destruction wrought by the battleship.
> > However, the usage is complicated by the fact that the article
> > contains an extended metaphor about the battleship and ghosts. This
> > text appeared earlier in the story:
> >
> > She was our flagship, and the Japanese, when they attacked Pearl
> > Harbor, were determined to get her. They saw the exploding bomb that
> > hit her superstructure, were sure they had sunk her, and so told the
> > world. She has been haunting them ever since.
> >
> > Never has there been a livelier ghost nor, as the enemy has learned, a
> > deadlier one.
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>



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