Antedating of "wired" by 18 years (and possibly by 24)
hugovk at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jul 13 09:35:29 UTC 2013
I found a 1959 (and a possible 1953-1955) antedating of OED's sense 6.b. of wired, adj. (OED: 1977). Here's the definition:
colloq. Intoxicated or ‘high’ on drugs, esp. so as to become hyper or overstimulated. Hence: in a state of nervous excitement; tense; energetic. Also with up.
Google Books and News tells us it's in print in the early 1970s and late 1960s as US and Canadian street slang, and appears to originate from Canada in the 1950s, if not earlier.
The earlier uses seem to mean hooked or addicted (for example to heroin), possibly from a suggestion of being connected to, wired to. This would follow some other earlier uses such "wired for electricity", "wired for aircon" and "wired for sound".
(Other earlier uses of wired are to have messaged someone by telegraph or other means ("I wired the Chicago office"), and it's sometimes used in discussions of how someone's "brain is wired up". It's not clear if these influenced the drug slang term.)
Later uses seem to mean being high, or on a buzz (for example on meths). Around the 1970s, this then became current when talking of legal drugs (for example prescription stimulant drugs, "uppers"), and then quite naturally was soon used for another legal stimulant drug, caffeine, which of course is found in coffee.
I found several antedatings, the earliest verified from 1959 in the Leader-Post, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, Oct 13, 1959:
Since 1939 he had broken the habit only once, while serving a jail term for breaking into a drug store to get narcotics. Within six months of his release he was "wired" again.
The earliest but unverified snippet is a possible 1951-1955 in Travailleur social: Volumes 20-23 by the Canadian Association of Social Workers, page 24:
Any of these may be of greater potential hazard than heroin, the chief drug of addiction in Vancouver. ... They become "hooked" or "wired",
one of the characteristics as outlined in the definition of drug addiction.
Hathi Trust has this journal for searching but full view is unavailable for copyright reasons.
Searching different entries, "wired" is found on page 24 of "The Social worker. Travailleur social. v.20-23 (Oct 1951-July 19.":
And page 24 of "The Social worker. Travailleur social. v.22-23 1953-1955.":
But not in "The Social worker. Travailleur social. v.20-21 1951-1953.":
So a 1953-1955 use looks promising.
I posted 15 other antedatings -- most snippets, some verified full-views -- at English Language & Usage:
Finally, the OED currently quotes only Farmer and Henley's 1903 Slang and its Analogues for sense 6.a., but Gareth Rees found an 1889 antedating in to sense 6.a. in Farmer's 1889 Americanisms, Old and New:
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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