[Ads-l] Off the Reservation (1892)

Bill Mullins amcombill at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat May 7 21:57:42 UTC 2016

_Oakland [CA] Tribune_ 17 Jan 1891 p 1 col 1 [Newspapers.com]"In the meantime, Tannhauser has gone off the reservation to a cave in the Bad Lands, tenanted by the female in pink tights, who poses as Venus and personifies carnal lust, in contradistinction to the pure love of Elizabeth, the niece of the Landgrave."

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM Sat May 7 13:07:24 UTC 2016OED3 has the figurative sense of "off the reservation" from 1898, in
an article by Frederic Remington describing his time embedded with the
Fifth Army Corps in Cuba.


Barry Popik found a political example from 1899:


Here's a political example antedating both of those, from 1892.

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), Aug. 17, 1892, p. 4, col. 4
Hustling Matters. Chairman Carter in Washington Looking for Cash.
Chairman Tom Carter of the Republican national committee made a flying
trip to Washington today...
Chairman Carter in private conversation with some of his party friends
expressed a great deal of concern at the persistent refusal of Tom
Platt and the other "New York Hostiles" to come in off the
reservation, but for publication he was delivered of a couple of rose
tinted interviews in which he claimed New York by from 20,000 to

More in my latest column for the Wall St. Journal:


In the column I also cite an early literal use:

Daily Placer Times and Transcript (San Francisco), June 30, 1855, p. 2, col. 4
The State Journal Says: General Denver, who arrived the day before
yesterday from the North, has kindly furnished us with the following
interesting items...
Gen. Denver was informed by a Mr. Mathews, of Crescent City, that
every Indian between Crescent City and Yreka had gone to the
reservation. Mr. Whipple had told the people to shoot all the Indians
found off the reservation, and notified the Indians of what he had
done. This had the desired effect.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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