[Ads-l] Query from Huffington Post: "Dumpster Fire"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 11 17:27:58 EDT 2016

Below is the data for the October 2003 citation containing the
figurative use of "dumpster fire". This was mentioned in the article
at the OxfordWords blog of Oxford Dictionaries (Bill Mullins pointed
to OxfordWords):


Date: October 17, 2003
Newspaper: Arizona Republic
Newspaper Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Article: 'Saw' messes with 'Texas'
Byline: Bill Muller
Quote Page P1, Column 2
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
There are quite a few teeth missing from the latest, dull-bladed
remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which trades suspense and
chills for gore and sadism. This bloody, exploitative mess is the
cinematic equivalent of a dumpster fire — stinky but insignificant.
[End excerpt]

Movie reviewer Bill Muller's phrase was vivid enough to be remembered
and reprinted in a Grand Rapids, Michigan newspaper in 2004:

Date: April 2, 2004
Newspaper: The Grand Rapids Press
Newspaper Location:  Grand Rapids, Michigan
Section: Entertainment
Article: Jack, Diane shine in 'Something;' fascinating story arises from 'Fog'
Byline: John Serba (The Grand Rapids Press)
Page: C3
Database: NewsBank Access World News

[Begin excerpt]
Quote: "This bloody, exploitative mess is the cinematic equivalent of
a dumpster fire -- stinky, but insignificant."
... -- Bill Muller,
The Arizona Republic
[End excerpt]

I thought that a search for "trash fire" might reveal pertinent
precursors. Below is a citation from 2000 containing "trash fire"
employed as part of an extended simile with "firewall" and "asbestos"
in the political domain.  The "trash fire" referred to a potential
political disaster.

Date: February 20, 2000
Newspaper: The Star-Ledger
Newspaper Location: Newark, New Jersey
Article: 'Sure-fire' strategy could turn to ash - Bush-Engler alliance
faces a test in Mich.
Byline: John J. Farmer (Star-Ledger Staff)
Quote Page: 6
Database: NewsBank Access World News

[Begin excerpt]
"I am solid asbestos," Engler added, just in case anyone missed the
"firewall" message.

That was before the McCain phenomenon took hold. Today there's more
than an outside chance that, come Tuesday, Engler could look more like
a trash fire than solid asbestos.
[End excerpt]


On Wed, May 11, 2016 at 3:42 PM, Cohen, Gerald Leonard <gcohen at mst.edu> wrote:
> Today I received the request below about "dumpster fire"  but don't have an answer.
> Would someone else perhaps be able to help?
> Gerald Cohen
> From: Claire Fallon [claire.fallon at huffingtonpost.com]
> Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 1:59 PM
> To: Cohen, Gerald Leonard
> Subject: HuffPost interview query: "Dumpster fire"
> Hi Gerald,
> I'm a Books and Culture writer at HuffPost, and I'm working on an article about the phrase "dumpster fire" and its rather sudden ubiquity as an insult. I'm interested in speaking to lexicographers like yourself who might have some insight on its rise to popularity.
> Please let me know if you'd be interested in speaking to me for the article; I'd love to hear your thoughts!
> Best,
> Claire
> --
> Claire Fallon
> Books & Culture Writer | THE HUFFINGTON POST
> claire.fallon at huffingtonpost.com
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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