[Ads-l] Humble

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Sun May 3 11:12:03 UTC 2015

I'm familiar with it from "The Wire," but of course that's David Simon too.

HDAS has it with a first citation from 1940. I'm not sure where all the citations come from, but the word doesn't appear to be unique to Baltimore--there is a 1965 cite from Claude Brown's "Manchild in the Promised Land," which is set in Harlem. The latest citation is from the NBC TV series "Homicide: Life on the Street," which is set in Baltimore, but again, that's a show associated with David Simon. So while not coined by him, it's a term he's fond of using.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Dan Goncharoff
Sent: Saturday, May 02, 2015 9:28 PM
Subject: Humble

In this interview about policing in Baltimore, https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/04/29/david-simon-on-baltimore-s-anguish

I noticed this use of the word humble:

"And the city willingly and legally gave itself over to that, beginning with the drug-free zones and with the misuse of what are known on the street in the previous generation as ‘humbles.’ A humble is a cheap, inconsequential arrest that nonetheless gives the guy a night or two in jail before he sees a court commissioner. You can arrest people on “failure to obey,” it’s a humble. Loitering is a humble. These things were used by police officers going back to the ‘60s in Baltimore. It’s the ultimate recourse for a cop who doesn't like somebody who's looking at him the wrong way. And yet, back in the day, there was, I think, more of a code to it."

I didn't see it in the archives.

I also wonder if different cities/police forces have different terms or slang for an inconsequential arrest.


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