Antedating of "Curve" and "Curve Ball"

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sat Sep 7 16:11:04 UTC 2013

The OED's first use of the baseball sense of "curve" is dated 1879, with the attributive "curve ball" having only a 1970 citation.  The Nichols and Dickson baseball dictionaries cite the New York Herald, July 7, 1874, for "curve ball" (this should also count as an antedating of "curve").  That is nontrivially earlier than anything I retrieve for "curve ball" in ProQuest, America's Historical Newspapers, Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers, Newspaperarchive, Chronicling America, or GenealogyBank, but I assume Nichols was accurate.

Fred Shapiro

The American Dialect Society -

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