[Ads-l] Antedating of "humdinger"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 24 23:49:41 UTC 2015


Great work Ben, Stephen and Hugo. Below is a slightly earlier instance
of humdinger(s). This instance also appeared in a Rockford, Illinois
newspaper. (Warning: Selection bias: That is where I looked.)

The classified advertisement below ran on several days, e.g. March 6
and March 8, 1896.

Date: March 6, 1896
Paper: The Morning Star
Description: Short classified advertisement
Quote Page 4, Column 4
Newspaper Location: Rockford, Illinois
Database: GenealogyBank

[Begin excerpt]
Steven's $5 baby cabs are humding-
ers.
[End excerpt]

Garson


On Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 6:38 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Antedating of "humdinger"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> On Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 6:11 PM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> [...]
> Stephen Goranson posted this 1896 "humdinger" from Rockford, Illinois:
>>
>>> In an ad for new cabs, of five levels of quality, the best
>>> being "A humdinger, only... [$]15.00"
>>>
>>> Paper: Daily Register Gazette, published as The Rockford Daily Register
>>> Gazette.; Date: 04-07-1896; Page: 2; col. 7 Location: Rockford, Illinois.
>>> [Amer. Hist. News.]
>>
>> I found other cites for "humdinger" in Rockford papers in 1896-97, so
>> it was active slang there. And I also found "dinger" cites from
>> Rockford predating the Apr. 1896 "humdinger":
>>
>> ---
>> _Daily Register-Gazette_ (Rockford, Ill.), Dec. 26, 1895, p. 3, col. 4
>> W.A. Airis -- My trade during the holidays will exceed last year's
>> business by several hundred dollars. I am satisfied with the business,
>> but if the rain had only left off it would have been a dinger this
>> year, for people seemed to have more money, but couldn't get a chance
>> to get out and spend it on account of the disagreeable weather.
>> ---
>> _Daily Register-Gazette_ (Rockford, Ill.), Jan. 14, 1896, p. 7, col. 3
>> Ira Chase will handle the Belvidere wheel next season and he says it
>> is going to be a "dinger" in every stage of the game.
>> ---
> [snip]
>
> Here are two earlier "dinger" cites that suggest a horse-racing origin...
>
> ---
> _Daily Register-Gazette_ (Rockford, Ill.), Nov. 24, 1894, p. 5, col. 6
> Jim McAllister has a yearling chestnut by Morris M., 2:27 3/4, dam by
> Signal, sire of the dam of Chief, 2:27 3/4. This filly is fast at the
> test and is bred right. Her owner says that she is just a dinger.
> ---
> _Daily Register-Gazette_ (Rockford, Ill.), Jan. 5, 1895, p. 3, col. 3
> Barney McGrahan is the proud owner of a fine chestnut colt by Morris
> M., 2:27 3/4. Barney says it is fast and just a "dinger" and the cafe
> business will not be anything to this fellow making money when he gets
> him straightened away.
> ---
>
> --bgz
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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