supercalif... redux

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Mar 19 21:24:33 UTC 2012

On Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 12:12 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> Wow! Words can be long!

Well, to begin with the first bit of misinformation in the video, the
Shermans never claimed to have coined
"supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" -- they said they heard a version
of it at summer camp in the 1930s and pegged the coinage at 1918. The
Straight Dope has a decent roundup of current knowledge about the term
(a 2002 article, shared on ADS-L in 2004):

OED2's earliest cite is from 1949, in the song title
"Supercalafajalistickespialadojus." As discussed in the Straight Dope
article, the songwriters sued Disney for copyright infringement. Peter
Tamony said in his 1972 AmSp squib "More on
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" that in response to the suit
Disney uncovered a use of the word in "a Syracuse University humor
magazine of the 1930s." No one's ever tracked down the magazine, it
seems, but perhaps one of our word sleuths can find an antedating
there or in another source.


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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