[Ads-l] The _third degree_ antedating (?)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Oct 22 23:15:53 EDT 2016


Thanks to Wilson Gray, Peter Morris, Robin Hamilton, and Jonathon
Green. Here is an instance of "third degree" in the desired sense from
a police chief in 1887. Actually, it appears to be the same text with
an earlier publication date.

Year: 1887
Title: Recollections of a New York chief of police
Author: George W. Walling.
Publisher: New York, Caxton Book Concern, Limited
Quote Page 189
Database: HathiTrust Full View

http://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc2.ark:/13960/t3bz6351m
http://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc2.ark:/13960/t3bz6351m?urlappend=%3Bseq=197

[Begin excerpt]
Saying which the "Deacon" disappears through a doorway, only to
reappear after a brief absence and hold up his finger. This indicates
that the prisoner is going to pass a bad quarter of an hour, or what
is known in police slang as "getting the third degree."
[End excerpt]

Garson

On Sat, Oct 22, 2016 at 9:42 PM, Robin Hamilton
<robin.hamilton3 at virginmedia.com> wrote:
>                 GDoS has the first cite from 1890:
>
> _____
>
> 1890  [US]  G.W. Walling Recollections 189: This indicates that the prisoner is
> going to pass a bad quarter of an hour, or what is known in police slang as
> ‘getting the third degree.’.
>
> _____
>
>          George Walling rose to Captain under George W.Matsell, and was
> Matsell's blue-eyed boy until they picked different sides in 1857.  He had a rep
> as something of a tough customer, but may have picked up on the term (if not the
> activity), "the third degree", from his boss.
>
> Interesting, maybe, that he describes it as "police slang", suggesting that it
> started life as a term on that side of the counter.
>
> Whatever, when he says, "third degree", he knows whereof he speaks.
>
> Robin Hamilton
>
>>
>>     On 23 October 2016 at 01:53 Peter Morris <peter_morris_1 at BLUEYONDER.CO.UK>
>> wrote:
>>
>>
>>     Online Etymology Dictionary dates "third degree" to 1900.
>>
>>     http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=third+degree&allowed_in_frame=0
>>
>>
>>     Here's a cite that appears to be from 1898.
>>
>>     http://tinyurl.com/h6sswby
>>
>>
>>     ------------------------------------------------------------
>>     The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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


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