Antedating of "scare quotes"

Hugo hugovk at GMAIL.COM
Fri Oct 11 07:14:00 UTC 2013

"scare quotes" (OED: 1956)

Via Dan Bloom is a 1946 book by Carey McWilliams called Southern California: An Island on the Land. Page 298:

Intimidating notes were inserted in payroll envelopes, employees were directly threatened by their employers with discharge if they voted for Sinclair, and the best advertising brains in California were put to work culling scare-quotes from Mr. Sinclair's voluminous writings.

Google Books preview:

This edition is copyright 1946 and 1973 by McWilliams, but a search on Hathitrust appears to verify it in a 1946 edition:;view=1up;seq=15;q1=scare-quotes;start=1;size=10;page=search;orient=0


Also some interdatings would otherwise suggest it originated amongst British logical philosophers in the late 1950s and early 1960s. See


The American Dialect Society -

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