"L7", not in the OED, ...

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 19 00:43:45 UTC 2014

JL has an entry for L-7 on page 478 of his landmark "Historical
Dictionary of American Slang", thus the OED editors already have
top-notch citations.

[Begin excerpt]
L-7 n. [prob. as in 1956, *1966 quots.] an overly conventional person;
SQUARE. Also as adj.

1956 Shaw W Coast Jazz, in DAS: L7...Hollywood's latest lingo for a
square: form an L and a 7 with your fingers and that's what you get.

1958 Meltzer & Blees H.S. Confidential (film). You bug this joint like
a real L seven.

*1966 S.J. Baker Australian Language 289: L7, "a square": apparently
derived from the fact that L and the figure 7 when in conjunction make
a rough square.
[End excerpt]

I remember hearing this in a teen "beach movie", and the term was
introduced with exaggerated finger motions together with a comical
explanation; hence, I suspected the script writers were lampooning
teen slang with an artificial construct.


On Sat, Jan 18, 2014 at 6:31 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      "L7", not in the OED, ...
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> = "square, in old slang, as indicated by forming a square with one's
> hands".  As defined in a NYTimes crossword puzzle clue, Friday Jan. 17.
> (I remember the gesture, but not the term.)
> For quotations, Wikipedia's article "Square (slang)" says:
> Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs included this line in their biggest hit
> "Wooly Bully":
>      Let's not be L7, come and learn to dance.
> Wings used this slang in an anti-drug reference in the song "C Moon":
>      It will be L7 and I'd never get to heaven
>      If I filled my head with glue
> The Sandlot's Squints used this line to describe Smalls:
>      Come on, Benny. Man. The kid is a... L7 weenie!
> Obie Trice in Adrenaline Rush:
>      "You L7 like a square be" (sic)
> XV's song "Be There, Be Square" referred to L7.
> Google is once again unhelpful.
> (I don't intend to follow this further.)
> Joel
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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