"little green men"; "flying saucer"

Jeff Prucher jprucher at YAHOO.COM
Thu Oct 20 18:24:36 UTC 2011

For "little green man", Brave New Words has 1946, and the SF citations project has 1940 (http://www.jessesword.com/sf/view/304).

Jeff Prucher

>From: Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
>Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 7:44 PM
>Subject: "little green men"; "flying saucer"
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>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
>Subject:      "little green men"; "flying saucer"
>OED has nothing before 1961. Tsk.
>GB affords numerous 19th C. British exx. referring to trolls, elves,
>and the like.  The following U.S. cites show too that it was used to
>refer to imaginary figures supposedly seen in delirium tremens.
>The 1948 is the earliest ex. that refers to denizens of outer space
>and, by implication, spacemen in saucers. It suggests that still
>earlier exx. may exist in comic books and pulp magazines.
>1945 _San Antonio Light_ (Aug. 5) 57 [NewspArch.]: Pink elephants and
>"little green men" are often seen around by those who hit the bottle
>too often and too hard.
>1946 _Independent Record_ (Helena, Mont.) (June 24) 4 [ibid]: [L]ittle
>green men...anonymous gnomes.
>1947 _Daily Register_ (Harrisburg, Ill.) (June 6) 8 [ibid.]: Little
>green men do not exist solely in nightmares. According to the
>Encyclopaedia Britannica, the complexions of the Punans, natives of
>Borneo [etc.].
>1947 _San Antonio Express_ (June 25) 6 [ibid.]: She could babble of
>nothing but the fairies and little green men. [Though the term "flying
>saucer" was coined within a few days of this, the reference here is to
>elf-like beings. -JL]
>1948 Mary Hill in _The Prospector_ (El Paso, Tex.) (Feb. 21) 2
>[ibid.]: I'm afraid I'll never take a ride on a high-powered atomic
>space ship and tour the Milky Way. It's  pity, because a lifetime of
>reading funny books has me completely prepared to meet little green
>men, life forms which exist on silicon, or entities of pure thought.
>1953 _Newport [R.I.] Daily News_ (Nov. 27) 8 [ibid.]: [A]ny time now
>we may expect to see a herd of pink elephants, and read that a flock
>of flying saucers have landed in Times Square, N.Y., with little green
>men popping out wanting to see the sights of Manhattan.
>Etc., etc.
>And an antedating, by about a week, of "flying saucer":
>1947 _Dixon [Ill.] Eve. Telegraph_ (June 30) 1 [ibid.]: "Flying
>Saucer" Controversy Is Continued; New Witnesses Report. Seattle,
>Wash., June 30.- (AP) - The "flying saucer" controversy continued
>today with eyewitness converts almost as numerous as the announced
>[The seminal "flying saucer" report was made on June 24. This AP
>dispatch is the earliest printed ex. I find. - 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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