[Ads-l] Humble

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun May 3 20:19:56 UTC 2015

Short Eyes: A Play
Miguel PiËśnero/Pinero - 1975
"We knew where to find each other and, in the early stage of our existence,
the fear of turning the corner and

being picked up on a 'humble' (any misdemeanor that could land someone back
in jail)

or looking backward and finding ugly temptation chasing us was on
everybody's mind."

FWIW, in 1940's-'50's StL, "on a humble" was in competition with "on a
humbug," both used in a wide variety of contexts having to do with
phoniness. I've never heard either form used WRT the police, probably
because I didn't meet anyone who'd ever been arrested till ca. 1965. Even
then, he got arrested by the Tijuana police for his own safety, he being
drunk out of his mind, and not by the LAPD on a humble/humbug.

I don't recall its use in "Homicide: Life on the Street," probably because,
if it was said by a black character, then it wouldn't have gotten my
attention. OTOH, I clearly recall Belcher telling a suspect to "Cop a
squat!" I'd never heard that expression used by a white person, before. To
this very day, IME, its use is still pretty rare, on the tube, at least.

On Sat, May 2, 2015 at 9:28 PM, Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at gmail.com> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Humble
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> In this interview about policing in Baltimore,
> https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/04/29/david-simon-on-baltimore-s-an=
> guish
> 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 =E2=80=98humbles.=E2=80=99 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 =E2=80=
> =9Cfailure
> to obey,=E2=80=9D it=E2=80=99s a humble. Loitering is a humble. These
> thing=
> s were used by
> police officers going back to the =E2=80=9860s in Baltimore. It=E2=80=99s
> t=
> he 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.
> DanG
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
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