Antedating of sporting "whitewash"

Hugo hugovk at GMAIL.COM
Fri Mar 22 20:08:54 UTC 2013

Antedating of sporting "whitewash" (OED n. 31 Aug 1867)

Cleveland daily leader. ([Cleveland, Ohio]), 18 June 1866. Chronicling
America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

The fifth and sixth innings resulted favorably to Cleveland. The seventh
was a whitewash for both clubs. The eighth, which was by mutual agreement
the last, added seven to the score of each, and the final result stood:
Forest City, 40; Reserve 26.

This is sense 4 in the OED, which combines "An act of ‘whitewashing’, as of
a bankrupt" along with two sporting senses. The first citation is for
whitewashing a bankruptcy from an 1851 Australian newspaper. The first
sport/baseball is August 1867. (For the verb, the bankruptcy and sporting
senses are separate.) I only mention this as Joseph McBride's book _High
and inside: an A to Z guide to the language of baseball_ (1997), says, from
the Google Books preview:

To "whitewash" a team, a term that can be traced back as far as 1851, is to
obliterate it, just as whitewash does to the previous coloring of a fence.
The word used today is "shutout." Synonyms for "whitewash" were "kalsomine"
and "calcimine," ...

I wonder if this is a reference to an earlier antedating or just a
confusion with the Australian bankruptcy sense.



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