[Ads-l] "the trots (a British colloquialism for diarrhea)"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Mar 18 13:48:55 UTC 2015


The OED has an entry for the phrase "the trots" with the relevant
sense. The first cite is in 1808 in England (I think). Further below
are two instances in the U.S. The first appeared in an 1868 diary
published in 2014 and the second in a 1901 journal.

[Begin excerpt]
trot, noun
1. e. the trots ( trot), diarrhoea; also fig. colloq. Cf. run n.2 11.

1808   E. Weeton Let. 10 June in Jrnl. of Governess (1969) I. 94,   I
should perhaps be running over to Mr. Ridyard's so very often, that
ten to one my brother would be..asking what was the matter with me
that I was so often hastily taken; saying he was sure I was ill of the
trot.

1904 in P. Fleming Bayonets to Lhasa (1961) xv. 205   He suffers
continually from the trots (diarrhoea) which have completely shattered
his nerves.
[End excerpt]

The Google Books database contains a book published in 2014 that
claims to be a diary of a cowboy in Kansas in 1868.The date of diary
entry containing the phrase "the trots" is not visible in the preview.
The date on the next diary entry was Wednesday, September 2, 1868.

Year: 2014
Title: A Texas Cowboy's Journal: Up the Trail to Kansas in 1868
Author: Jack Bailey
Quote Page 37
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma
Database: Google Books Preview

https://books.google.com/books?id=kg8FBAAAQBAJ&q=trots#v=snippet&

[Begin excerpt]
All very hungry + tired. Had no salt to put on our little yearling.
Broiled it. The more we cooked it the biger it got. Eat it half done +
the consequence was all had the trots all night. Had a big laugh at
camp next morning.
[End excerpt]

Below is a citation with a 1901 publication date in New York.

https://books.google.com/books?id=E5YxAQAAMAAJ&q=+trots#v=snippet&

Date: April 25, 1901
Journal: The Chironian
Article: College Notes
Start Page: 135
Quote Page: 136
Published by: The students of the New York Homeopathis Medical College
Location: New York

[Begin excerpt]
Deed: Recently prescribed for patient.
Cause: Gastrectasis.
Results: Had the trots all night.
Moral: Don't give cathartics for everything.
"Stod."
[End excerpt]

Garson

On Wed, Mar 18, 2015 at 9:02 AM, David Barnhart <dbarnhart at highlands.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       David Barnhart <dbarnhart at HIGHLANDS.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "the trots (a British colloquialism for diarrhea)"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Why can not the people resort to DARE? Nice entry there with lead to OED
> (where the earliest quote is 1808).  According to DARE it's widespread, as
> far as I can tell.  Dates in US from 1900, at least.
>
> DKB
>
> barnhart at highlands.com
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
> Jonathan Lighter
> Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 5:56 PM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: Re: "the trots (a British colloquialism for diarrhea)"
>
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "the trots (a British colloquialism for diarrhea)"
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---
>
> My mother, born a century ago, used to say "runs."
>
> Am pretty sure that the "trots" goes back at least to the American Civil War
> but am too lazy to check the files.
>
> JL
>
> On Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 4:11 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
> wrote:
>
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>> Subject:      Re: "the trots (a British colloquialism for diarrhea)"
>>
>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>> ---------
>>
>> I could imagine a whole spectrum, depending on the urgency and =
>> severity--from the trots to the canter to the gallop (and no, I wasn't
>> = thinking of color spectrum)--but the only ones I've heard are the
>> trots = and the runs, and I'm not sure the former suggests a milder
>> version than = the latter.  But perhaps "trots" is somewhat more British.
>>
>> LH
>>
>> > On Mar 17, 2015, at 3:27 PM, Christopher Philippo <toff at MAC.COM> =
>> wrote:
>> >=20
>> > On Mar 17, 2015, at 3:18 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>> >> Isn=E2=80=99t "trots" used in the relevant meaning not only here,
>> >> but =
>> also pretty much anywhere else that English is spoken?
>> >=20
>> > I think in upstate New York that I have occasionally heard it
>> >referred =
>> to as the runs but never as the trots.  It seems plausible that it
>> might = be a British colloquialism - British understatement for that
> matter?
>> > ------------------------------------------------------------
>> > The American Dialect Society - =
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>> yarM=
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>>
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>
>
>
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
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