[Ads-l] "Caucus" and the OED -- a new speculation about etymology [Was: Corkass [caucus] 1763 "...should give the etymology...but"]

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Wed Jun 24 11:26:16 UTC 2015


On 6/24/15 12:00 AM, ADS-L automatic digest system wrote:
> Date:    Tue, 23 Jun 2015 15:37:03 +0000
> From:    Joel Berson<berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject: Re: "Caucus" and the OED -- a new speculation about etymology [Was: Corkass [caucus] 1763 "...should give the etymology...but"]
>
> When Stephen wrote about "caucus" on 28 Oct 2007, the OED's earliest quotation was 1763, as its etymology said.  The etymology still says "earliest ... 1763", but although the entry has "not yet been fully updated", there now is a 1760 quotation.
>
> The 1760 quotation, also from a newspaper (and provided by Stephen on 29 Oct 2007), has "corcas".  A slightly earlier 1763 quotation than Stephen's has "caucus" -- but it's from the well-educated John Adams.
I vote to return to the original spelling of "corkass". "Bernie Sanders 
corkasses with the Democrats." "Romney is not attending the Iowa corkasses."

I think the etymology is clear as day: "If you don't vote our way, we'll 
cork your ass" -> "cork ass" -> "caucus" (in the dominant non-rhotic MA 
dialect). I'm sure Joel will support this hypothesis.

---Amy West

(I could not for the life of me figure out why Stephen was working on 
"corkass": seemed more a Jonathan Lighter or Wilson Gray thing, but now 
it makes sense.)

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