dodge Pompey

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Jun 27 15:19:34 UTC 2012

So a sense related to ships signaling precedes "avoiding work"?

Portsmouth was certainly a significant British naval base (and
commercial ship port) in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Finding the
passage in would be important.  A lantern had a shutter (perhaps also
called a "screen"?; see 1838 quote below).  Would they be "dodged",
moved to reveal or shut off the beam, in order to signal?  Did "dodge
Pompey" mean something like "avoid Portsmouth", for some reason or
purpose, by manipulating a lantern?  ("dodge" sense 1 -- "a. To move
to and fro, or backwards and forwards ..." [of a person], 1704-; and
sense 6, "To move (a thing) to and fro, or up and down ...", 1820-,
close to the earliest "dodge Pompey" quotations below.)


At 6/27/2012 07:46 AM, Stephen Goranson wrote:
>I was attempting again to find how Portsmouth, England got the
>nickname Pompey (OED has it from 1899), and so far, failed again.
>There are many proposals. Anyway, here are some antedatings (OED has
>1929) for dodging Pompey (one of which, merely coincidentally,
>involves the US ship Portsmouth); dodging Pompey may have played
>some role in the Portsmouth nickname origin--or not. (Green's,
>unchecked.) They may not all fit OED's dodge v 13 sense (a) to evade
>work (Naval slang).
>1836  Ben Brace; the last of Nelson's Agamemnons. Capt. Chamier RN.
>v. 1 p. 295 (HT)
>[in rough seas] We tried a signal or two, but it was no use--the
>lanterns were playing 'dodge Pompey,' and the lights were out before
>the signal could be made.
>1838 [1853 ed.] Jack Adams, the mutineer. Capt. F. Chamier, RN. p.145 col. 1
>Have I ever played dodge Pompey behind a screen when danger was near?
>1841 Tom Bowling: A tale of the sea. v.3 (HT)
>Smith was a regular dodge Pompey
>1845-1847, published 1958. The Cruise of the Portsmouth, 1845-1847:
>A Sailor's View of the Naval Conquest of California. Joseph T.
>Downey, USN; ed. Howard Lamar. Yale UP. (paper)
>I have found out that dodging Pompey is a good thing, dodging is my
>trade, and I am as good a dodger as any he [sic] in California, just
>keep your eyes on their Big Guns, and when you see the flash, fall
>down where you stand, and don't rose again till you hear the Ball
>whistle over your heads;....
>1847 Cruise of the Graceful; or, The Robbers of Carracas, by Captain
>Barnacle, U.S.N. (C.M. Newell?) p. 5, col. 1 (HT)
>....I never seed so much _dodging pompey_ in all my sailoring as I
>have these two weeks past.
>1880 Captain Tom Drake; or, England's hearts of oak. W. L. Emmett.
>p. 7   col. 1
>"I've put a question to you, now I wants the answer; now then, out
>with it, none of your tack and half tack, and dodging Pompey round
>the long boat, let's have it...."
>1899 The log of a sea-waif... Frank T. Bullen, p.292 (GB)
>They killed time in a variety of ways, making believe to do some
>work, but principally occupied in "dodging Pompey."
>Stephen Goranson
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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