more on "dumb as an ashtray"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Mar 6 19:45:51 UTC 2013

The list archives contain posts with:
"smart as a box of rocks"
"dumb as a box of rocks";%2BPfYRg;201008130212470400B

Here is a fun example in 1911 with an ash-hopper instead of an
ashtray. Unfortunately, it appears to use a different sense of "dumb".

Title: A Crooked Trail: The Story of a Thousand-mile Saddle Trip Up
and Down the Texas Frontier in Pursuit of a Runaway Ox
Year: 1911

[Begin excerpt]
"Hain't you boys seen through this thing yet?" he demanded.
Through what thing, Newt? I hastened to ask.
"Can you keep a secret?"
"Of course we can," Frank answered.
"We're as dumb as an ash-hopper," I assured him.
[End excerpt]


On Wed, Mar 6, 2013 at 11:48 AM, David Barnhart <dbarnhart at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       David Barnhart <dbarnhart at HIGHLANDS.COM>
> Subject:      more on "dumb as an ashtray"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> In looking around at _ashtray_~_ash-tray_  I find only two quotes in OED,
> one for _ash-tray_ and one for _ashtray_.
> There is  nothing figurative or semantically stretched about the entry.  I
> found nothing in the dictionaries of politics.  Nor in the dictionaries of
> slang.  Nor in the dictionaries of new words.
> Barnhart at
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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