"send the wrong message"

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Oct 14 18:09:09 UTC 2011

Here is an example in 1969 in the domain of interpersonal psychosexual
signaling, and not diplomatic signaling.

Cite: 1969 May 15, Dallas Morning News, Ask Dr. Brothers: Pretty Girl
Wants to Wed by Joyce Brothers, Page 2, Column 5, Dallas, Texas.

<Begin excerpt>
Consequently, the beautiful woman may end up attracting only those men
who are most aggressive and assertive, who, unfortunately for her, see
her as more of a prized object than a person. You may be unwittingly
sending the wrong message about yourself in social situations. People
find it hard to believe that beautiful women are really shy and are
likely to be put off by reserve, interpreting it as hauteur.
<End excerpt>

In the following 1944 citation I do not know if the term "message"
refers to a literal message or something more abstract and perhaps
metaphorical. Since the phrase "the wrong message to the wrong
address" is placed in quotation marks it is possible that the term is
not meant to be taken literally. Alternatively, the newspaper is
simply grabbing a quote from Pravda and translating it. After a quick
search I was unable to determine the precipitating event.

Cite: 1944 February 4, Socialist Call, Recent Vital Reading: Some
Books I've Liked by Norman Thomas, Page 6, Column 2, New York.

<Begin excerpt>
On the whole, my fears were strengthened by reading "Russia and
Postwar Europe" by David J. Dallin (Yale University Press). I found
this objective, incisive and logical statement and interpretation of
relevant facts so illuminating and so suggestive in its implications
that reading it was an exciting experience. I wish this book could
have been made required reading for President Roosevelt and his State
Department. It might have saved Wendell Willkie from the embarrassment
of Pravda's rebuke after he had sent "the wrong message to the wrong
address." Even the editors of the Daily Worker might learn something
from it.
<End excerpt>

On Thu, Oct 13, 2011 at 6:45 PM, Jonathan Lighter
<wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      "send the wrong message"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> For when you fail to "send a strong signal."  I.e., "impart an adverse
> suggestion or impression to."
> GB appears to have a legitimate ex. from 1969. At least the context
> implies that the Vietnam War is still going on.
> ProQuest yields nothing in the NYT until 1978.
> 1975 _Syracuse Post-Standard_ (June 19) 4 [NewspArch]: [South Korean
> dissidents] accordingly look with apprehension at American
> Congressmen, clergymen, civil libertarians, and liberals for fear they
> will send the wrong message to Pyongyang and Washington.
> All earlier exx. seem to refer to literal, concrete messages.
> It seems to me that there was a lot of TV commentary beginning about
> 1968 that antiwar demonstrations, bombing halts, etc., "will send the
> wrong message to Hanoi."  Of course, it might have been 1969. Or I
> could be crazy.
> JL
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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