[Ads-l] Antedating Naked as a Jaybird

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Mar 8 21:48:09 UTC 2016


I think "unfledged" implies rudimentary feathers or non-existent
feathers based on the definition of "fledged" in Merriam-Webster.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fledge

[Begin excerpt from Merriam-Webster]
Fledged fledg - ing
of a young bird
    intransitive verb
    :  to acquire the feathers necessary for flight or independent
activity; also :  to leave the nest after acquiring such feathers
    transitive verb
    1:  to rear until ready for flight or independent activity
    2:  to cover with or as if with feathers or down
    3:  to furnish (as an arrow) with feathers
[End excerpt]

The subject of the figurative phrase about nakedness may have shifted
from a young human to a young bird or vice versa. In 1827 the phrase
"naked,--as a baby newly born" was included in a poem

Year: 1827
Title: The Quality Papers Edited by D. Wyseman
(Papers of Hilary Quality)
Section: Peter Prawn: An Heroic Poem
Start Page 1, Quote Page 34
Publisher: William Marsh, Oxford Street, London

[Begin excerpt]
In momentary fear of being prick'd
In some more tender part;--cold--faint--forlorn--
And naked,--as a baby newly born!--
"How came he so?--O ye fubaceous pow'rs!
Could he be still that soul whom men call'd PETER PRAWN?
[End excerpt]

When the phrase references a bird that is unfledged (featherless,
dependent, weak) the intensity of the simile is enhanced, I think.

Garson


On Tue, Mar 8, 2016 at 1:50 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: Antedating Naked as a Jaybird
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
>> On Mar 8, 2016, at 1:34 PM, Peter Reitan <pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:
>>=20
>> I believe most sources date "naked as a jaybird" to about 1900.  I =
> found a couple earlier sources, the earliest one (1841) may answer the =
> question about why jaybirds are naked.
>
> Is the presupposed allusion here to featherlessness?  Do new-hatched =
> birds or fledgelings lack feathers?  (I grew up in NYC and, beyond =
> pigeons, didn't the chance to do much bird-watching as a fledgeling =
> myself.) =20
>
> LH
>
>>=20
>> "'He that steals my purse steals trash,' but he that filched from me =
> my breeches, robbed me of that which may have enriched him; but which =
> left me as naked as an unfledged Jay bird."
>>=20
>> Lexington Union (Mississippi), March 13, 1841, page 3. (Chronicling =
> America)
>>=20
>> An early example of the predecessor British expression, "naked as a =
> robin," that seems to support the naked baby bird notion:
>>=20
>> "If Sir Thomas adhere to his doctrine, and if that doctrine be acted =
> upon, he will have the coat taken off his back, and will be left as =
> naked as a robin two hours old . . ."
>>=20
>> Cobbett's Weekly Register, Volume 58, Number 6, May 6, 1826. (Hathi =
> Trust).
>>=20
>> An earlier example, "I'll strip you naked as a robin" (Cobbett's =
> Weekly Register, Volume 42, Number 1, April 6, 1822 (HathiTrust)), does =
> not refer to how young the bird was, but the other two seem to suggest =
> that "naked" was originally a reference to a young bird - not jaybirds =
> (or robins), in general.  Also, a related turn of phrase, with a =
> different bird, suggests the same thing:  "naked as a new hatched =
> raven." Charles White, The Cashmere Shawl, An Eastern Fiction, Volume 1, =
> London, H. Colburn, 1840. (HathiTrust)
>>=20
>> Other examples here: =
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttp-3A__esnpc.blogspot.com_2=
> 016_03_perching-2Dbirds-2Dand-2Dnudity-2Dnaked-2Dtruth.html&d=3DAwIFAw&c=3D=
> -dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DwFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=3D=
> i_xptZdRp9SdT3aY8glD5Bz5xTcjv-eig-5Dky5XNKA&s=3DzzAVpOGYZOhH0_hBb35DAWlm3D=
> Yn82OAXAukyVHh2RA&e=3D=20
>>=20
>>=20
>>=20
>>=20
>>=20
>>=20
>>                                        =20
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - =
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttp-3A__www.americandialect.=
> org&d=3DAwIFAw&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DwFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsS=
> xPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=3Di_xptZdRp9SdT3aY8glD5Bz5xTcjv-eig-5Dky5XNKA&s=3DThvHP1=
> SC3dwcNe1u2qnhXeH_H2t3tNXJ04V8dd6I7kY&e=3D=20
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