Puzzling Antedating of "Scofflaw"

Charles C Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Mon Jan 24 01:27:05 UTC 2011

Isn't it also possible that the winning entry in the "coinage" contest was not necessarily an actual (new) coinage but just somebody's favorite new or novel word?  The fact that "scofflaw" was entered by two separate contestants seems to point in that direction.


From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Garson O'Toole [adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Sunday, January 23, 2011 6:57 PM

Intriguing mystery, Fred! The illustration used in the Charleston
Daily Mail in the issue dated January 27, 1923 is the same as the
illustration used in an article dated January 23, 1924 in The Meriden
Daily Journal of Meriden, Connecticut (In Google News archive). The
text is also very similar. It looks like both articles are reprints.

Short URL:

This supports John Baker's hypothesis that the print run of the
Charleston Daily Mail has the wrong date. In fact the wrong date is
given at the top of every page I looked at. (The front page of the
Charleston Daily Mail is not visible because the index numbering is
off by one.)

However, if you go to page six of the Charleston Daily Mail (which
NewspaperArchive indexes as page five) you can see the masthead in the
first column. The date immediately below "The Daily Mail" is January
27, 1924. So there is at least one place where the apparently correct
date is listed.

On Sun, Jan 23, 2011 at 6:22 PM, Baker, John <JMB at stradley.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Baker, John" <JMB at STRADLEY.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Puzzling Antedating of "Scofflaw"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>        Misdated in the original, I believe.  The date at the top is
> "Sunday Morning, January 27, 1923," but January 27 fell on a Saturday in
> 1923.  It's odd, because the 1923 dating appears on every page, but
> there are internal references to 1924 events.
> John Baker
> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
> Of Shapiro, Fred
> Sent: Sunday, January 23, 2011 5:38 PM
> Subject: Puzzling Antedating of "Scofflaw"
> This is a weird one.  One of the outstanding examples of a conscious
> coinage of a successful word is "scofflaw."  The OED 's first citation
> is from the Boston Herald, Jan. 16, 1924, reporting that "Delcevare King
> of Quincy last night announced that  $B!F (Bscofflaw $B!G (B is the
> winning word in the contest for the $200 he offered for a word, to
> characterize the  $B!F (Blawless drinker $B!G (B of illegally made or
> illegally obtained liquor.  $B!F (BScofflaw $B!G (B was chosen from more
> than 25,000 words, submitted from all the states and from several
> foreign countries. The word was sent by two contestants, so the prize
> will be equally divided between Henry Irving Dale $B!E (Band Miss Kate
> L. Butler."  There are numerous other newspaper articles reporting this
> Jan. 15, 1924 announcement.
> But a Newspaperarchive search pulls up an earlier article, seemingly
> correctly dated Jan. 27, 1923, from  the Charleston (W.V.) Daily Mail.
> The 1923 article, datelined New York, Jan. 26, states that "The first
> meeting of the Royal Order of Scofflaws held here was a staggering
> event.  A 'Scofflaw,' as you may know, is a man who ignores the
> prohibition law.  A man in Quincy, Mass., offered a prize for a name
> which would rebuke bootleg drinkers and Scofflaw won."
> It is hard to know what to make of all this, but one hypothesis is that
> Delcevare King had a contest that ended with his picking The Word, and
> liked it so much that he decided to do it all over again and get more
> publicity the second time.
> Fred Shapiro
> Editor
> YALE BOOK OF QUOTATIONS (Yale University Press)
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list