Seven-year itch

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Jul 7 14:03:11 UTC 2011

And from the far side of America's Historical Newspapers, Early
American Newspapers:

(1) Published about two months later than Stephen's, but claiming an
1844 origin:

Berkshire County [Pittsfield, Mass.] Whig, vol. V, iss. 222, page
[2], col. 5, bottommost item:
June 5, 1845

The following humorous certificate of the virtue of 'the Chemical
refined Turkish Essence of wild Dandelion,' we find in the 'Uncle Sam' paper:
                 Chesterville, (Texas) July 1, 1844.
Dear and highly honored Sir:---It is with feelings of he most
profound esteem and veneration that I take up the pen to address you
on the subject of my late illness, and the causes of its cure. I was
first taken with the consumption---then the gout set in---after that
I was attacked with the measels [sic] and seven year' itch.  [Other
diseases, criminal acts, tar and feathering, and the loss of a leg
ensue.] ... I heard of your invaluable specific. One bottle cured all
my disorders, and having rubbed the empty vial on my left leg, it
immediately grew out again.
           Yours with great respect.
                            John Smith.
I am acquainted with Mr. Smith, and know him to be a gentleman of veracity.
                            John Brown.

[Was there an "Uncle Sam'[s] paper'"?  That phrase meant the paper
money of the U.S. (but is not in the OED).]

(2)  Published 12 days after Michael's [underscores indicate italics]:

Morning News [New London, Connecticut], Vol. I; Issue: 289; Page: [3], col. 2.
Oct. 16, 1845

[Within a letter responding to an advertisement from a gentleman
seeking a wife: "Any gal wot's got a cow, a good feather bed with
comfortable fixens, 500 dollars in hard pewter, one who has had the
measles and understands children, can find a customer for life, by
writing a small billet doux addressed to Z.X. New London Postoffice."]

And you want a gal that has had the measles---I _snickers_---I have
had them three times; died with them twice, but the third time I
'_kum tu_'---and besides all that have had the cholera and small pox,
am somewhat pestered with what is termed the 'seven year itch'; but
my disposition is naturally so good that I do not mind such
trifles---and my constitution is of a make that I am capable of most
any thing. I can tend children by the dozen---the more the
merrier.  ... Please write soon, and as favorably as
possible.  Yours, with the most heartfelt anxiety.

[jillet = "A giddy or flighty young woman; a jilt; sometimes, a
familiar or contemptuous term for a girl or young woman, a wench."]


At 7/7/2011 05:24 AM, Stephen Goranson wrote:
>America's Historical Newspapers
>Ohio Statesman, page [4], col. 5 vol. I, iss. 115
>March 26, 1839, Columbus, Ohio, Advertisement
>Dr. Mason's Indian Vegetable Panacea....for the cure of....also,
>that corruption
>so commonly known to the western country as the scab or seven year Itch, &c.
>Stephen Goranson
>From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
>Michael Quinion [wordseditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG]
>Sent: Thursday, July 07, 2011 4:30 AM
>Subject: [ADS-L] Seven-year itch
>A subscriber to World Wide Words asked about the origin of "seven-year
>itch" (or "seven-year's itch"). John Ayto, in the Oxford Dictionary of
>Slang, dates the sexual sense from 1936, but I've not been able to find an
>example before the title of George Axelrod's play of 1952.
>Might Ayto have been referring to this:
>   1936 C. Sandburg People, Yes 112 'May you have the seven-year
>   itch,' was answered, 'I hope your wife eats crackers in bed.'
>though this seems to be a reference to the discomfort of the disease.
>Safire asserted that the sexual sense was an invention of Axelrod's.
>My subscriber quoted Walden (1854) in the original sense of a form of
>scabies, which is the earliest in the OED. I found this some years ago:
>   1845 Wisconsin Herald and Grant County Advertiser (Lancaster,
>   Wisconsin), 4 Oct. 1/2 [page number uncertain] When Illinois
>   caught Mormonism of Missouri, she caught something worse than
>   the seven year itch.
>Can anyone better either of these?
>Michael Quinion
>Editor, World Wide Words
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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