"the 12th man" redux

Nancy Friedman nancyf at WORDWORKING.COM
Sat Feb 1 15:22:16 UTC 2014

According to a Seattle TV station, last week a Washington couple whose
surname is Mann named their baby daughter Cydnee Leigh 12th.



Word of the week:  Trebuchet. http://nancyfriedman.typepad.com

Nancy Friedman
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-----Original Message-----
From: Ben Zimmer [mailto:bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Friday, January 31, 2014 8:17 PM
Subject: "the 12th man" redux

My latest Wall Street Journal column is on "the 12th man," a phrase that the
Seattle Seahawks have to pay Texas A&M a licensing fee to use. I present
some historical evidence that might undercut A&M's trademark claim,
including examples of "the 12th man" to refer to fans of college football
teams predating the legendary 1922 A&M game where, according to Aggie lore,
the phrase was born.

Link to column: http://on.wsj.com/12manbz

Google Books provides the early cites:

Minnesota Magazine, Sept. 1900, p. 32
"The mysterious influence of the twelfth man on the [University of
Minnesota] team, the rooter, should be as great as any of the rest."

The Iowa Alumnus, Nov. 1912, p. 30
"The eleven men had done their best; but the twelfth man on the team (the
loyal spirited Iowa rooter) had won the game for old S.U.I.
[State University of Iowa, now the University of Iowa]."

More to come on Monday in my Word Routes column on Vocabulary.com and the
Visual Thesaurus.


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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