horse feathers (1925 February 25)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 28 20:51:36 UTC 2011

horse feathers (also horsefeathers)

This term is discussed on a webpage at World Wide Words where Michael
Quinion notes that the expression was covered in American Speech in
December 1928. Comic strip artist William De Beck assumed credit for
coinage but the earliest cite within his work is a 1928 film. There
exists a 1927 cite to the work of cartoonist T A Dorgen.

OED has the expression with a first cite in 1928 - the American Speech article.

Here is a cite in 1925 that may be worth investigating. I have not
seen full scans or paper for this cite hence the context is not clear.
Readers can follow the link to see the snippet.

Cite: 1925 February 25, The Outlook, GB Page 305, Outlook Company.
(Google Books snippet view; Date and title of periodical visible in
snippet; Not verified on paper; May be misleading)

His own time, which should be applied to more serious concerns, is
consumed chasing horse feathers.

I tried to confirm this cite using ProQuest American Periodicals but
was unable to get a match. An online list says that ProQuest stops
coverage of "The Outlook" in 1924 and that would explain the lack of a

Here is a curious 1904 cite that does not seem to fit the modern meaning.

Cite: 1904, A Later Pepys: the Correspondence of Sir William Weller
Pepys: Volume 1, List of items: For the Funeral of the Late William
Franks Esquire: August 15th 1797, Page 238, John Lane, London and New
York. (Google Books full view)

Use of Rich Lidd of Ostrich Feathers and 6 Horse feathers


The American Dialect Society -

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