Antedating of "Bat Out of Hell"

Hugo hugovk at GMAIL.COM
Tue Aug 20 07:38:49 UTC 2013

bat out of hell (OED 1921, HDAS 1909, ADS-L 1903)

>From August 17, 1895 in the Evening Star (Washington DC, Page 15, Image 15), in an article titled "COWBOYS AT WORK / Hamlin Harland Gives His Impression of a Round-Up. / THE CRUELTY OF BRANDING / Some Stirring Encounters Between Man and Beast. / WITH THE COW BOSS":

[Begin excerpt]
The branding was soon over and then the camp began to move. The next round up lay over a formidable ridge, and as I rode behind the troupe with the boss, I saw a characteristic scene. Toiling up the terrible grade, one horse on the cook's wagon gave out, and four of the cowboys hitched their lariats to the pole and jerked the wagon up the gulch "like a bat out o' hell," as one man graphically put it. In this way do these men dominate all conditions.
[End excerpt]

Placing the quotation on the map, the report itself is from "SALEDA, August 4, 1895" and begins "At Cripple Creek mining camp...". There's both a Salida (note spelling) and Cripple Creek in the state of Colorado, just 50 miles from each other as the bat flies.


Also, this is interesting, but probably not an HDAS or ADS-L antedating. Google claims this Dialect Notes is Volume 3 (page 399) from 1905 but it's a snippet and is probably several volumes run together. Searching for year numbers, I think this is more likely 1908 or 1909 as they show up near the same page. Anyway, it's good as it gives a descriptive reason for the phrase:

[Begin excerpt]
"like a bat out of hell, adv. phr. Very quickly. "Once all the bats were confined in Hell. They still have wings like the Devil. One day some one left the gate open and they quickly darted out and escaped to earth."
[End excerpt]

Please can someone confirm the actual year/volume of this, and is it the same as the HDAS entry?



> > On Wed, Apr 11, 2007 at 10:01:54AM -0400, Fred Shapiro wrote:
> >> bat out of hell (OED 1921, HDAS 1909)
> >>
> >> 1906 _The Cosmopolitan_ May [article beginning on page 81] (American
> >> Periodical Series)  A peon shot back the bolt of the bull-pen door and in
> >> poured the bull like a bat out of hell.
> The Lions of the Lord: A Tale of the Old West By Harry Leon Wilson, Copyright
> 1903, published June, 1903, page 107 (google book full view):
> Why, I tell you, young man, if I knew any places where the pinches was
> at, you'd
> see me comin' the other way like a bat out of hell.
> Stephen Goranson

The American Dialect Society -

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