George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Sat Oct 29 20:56:37 UTC 2011

            Among this portion [of Journeymen Printers] are found most of
those who have no permanent situations, -- who live by *subbing*, as it is
termed, on the Daily Papers, and *rushing* out cheap publications, on the
arrival of a steamer from Europe, when the public is on the *qui vive* for
Dickens's or Sue's latest literary wonder.
            New-York Daily Tribune, September 11, 1845, p. 2, cols.
2-3(quoted passage is from col. 2)  From "The
Journeymen Printers." , No. XII in the series Labor in New-York: Its
Circumstances, Conditions and Rewards.

OED: Sub, verb; hence, "subbing"
 2. To work as a printer's substitute. In gen. use, to act as a substitute.
Also trans., to substitute (something). Chiefly U.S.

1853    ‘M. Twain’ Let. 26 Oct. (1917) I. i. 26,   I am subbing at the
Inquirer office.
1853    ‘M. Twain’ Let. 26 Oct. (1917) I. i. 26   If I want it, I can get
subbing every night of the week.
1879    University Mag. Nov. 589   At Cincinnati where he [Edison]‥‘subbed’
for the night men whenever he could obtain the privilege.
1926    Amer. Mercury Dec. 465/2   When a new act was placed last on a
programme, Variety put it: ‘Fred and Daisy Rial subbed in the walk-out

George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ.
Pr., 1998, but nothing much since then.

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

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