hero etymology

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Mar 19 00:05:27 UTC 2012

On Mar 18, 2012, at 5:16 PM, Dave Wilton wrote:

> There is this, which I wrote some years ago: www.verbatimmag.com/28_3.pdf

Thanks, Dave.  I enjoyed reading your piece, and your quote of the line from Oddball (the Donald Sutherland character in "Kelly's Heroes"*), "To a New Yorker like you, a hero is some kind of weird sandwich, not some nut that takes on three Tigers", reminds me of the title of the perennial YA classic, written in the early 70s but still assigned in school:  _A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich_, about a boy trying to survive his ghetto upbringing, drugs and all.


*Not to be confused with the overlooked classic "Hoagie's Heroes", about a group of World War II American soldiers who tunnel their way out of a Nazi POW camp to get their hands on oversized deli sandwiches purveyed at a nearby Philadelphia-style luncheonette just outside the stalag walls.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
> Larry Sheldon
> Sent: Sunday, March 18, 2012 5:01 PM
> Subject: Re: hero etymology
> On 3/18/2012 3:39 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> Interestingly (to me, at least), the earlier definitions culled by
>> Barry seem to involve an either-or, but by the time I began buying
>> and consuming them in the mid 1950s, they were a both- (or rather
>> all-) and: not salami *or* prosciutto *or* other ham or cheese or
>> both, but always all of the above, plus chopped onions and peppers,
>> with a layer of olive oil, and something that was probably sprinkled
>> oregano and maybe other herbs.  Mmmm.  (I don't recall tuna being an
>> option--but maybe I just never asked.  And yes, we always assumed--in
>> both NYC and central Maine (lake district), where the term was also
>> used--that the name referred to anyone (e.g. us) who could eat the
>> whole thing at a single sitting.
> Sounds like what we called "submarine sandwiches" farther down the
> Atlantic Coast.
> And "subs" just about every place else I've been (Antedating the Subway
> chain by a lot).
> The one that worries me in areas where "hero" is the nom du jour, what
> do I ask for if I want the Grecian delicacy?
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