[Ads-l] Antedating of "Wacko"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Wed Aug 23 15:31:50 EDT 2017


A few more to puzzle over...

"a wacko night"
Cairns Post, Queensland, July 13, 1932, p. 2
http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/41161761?searchTerm=wacko

"a Whack-o bargain"
Cairns Post, Queensland, Dec. 20, 1932, p. 2
http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/41194803?searchTerm=whack-o

"a 'Whacko' dance"
South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus, NSW, Feb. 3, 1933, p. 18
http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/143036249?searchTerm=whacko

"a wacko supper"
Cairns Post, Queensland, Dec. 28, 1934, p. 2
http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/41546343?searchTerm=wacko


On Wed, Aug 23, 2017 at 3:16 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:

> As Stephen notes, there are numerous cites for "w(h)acko" in the
> Australian newspapers in the 1930s, often as an interjection or a nickname.
> Much of the usage seems to stem from theatrical shows that were popular
> there in the mid-'30s -- one comic actor, Ron Shand, went by "Wacko" (or
> "Whacko") and was known for his "eccentric dancing, quips and oddities of
> face and gesture":
>
> Townsville Daily Bulletin, Queensland, Aug. 27, 1934, p. 3
> http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/61971445?searchTerm=whacko
>
> The association with comedic theater may help explain such collocations as
> these:
>
> "a 'whacko' dinner"
> Western Mail, Perth, Apr. 12, 1934, p. 29
> http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/38023211?searchTerm=whacko
>
> "a 'Wacko' ball"
> Guyra Argus, NSW, Aug. 13, 1936, p. 3
> http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/173626999?searchTerm=wacko
>
> ...and perhaps the "wacko gown range" in Garson's 1939 cite.
>
>
> On Wed, Aug 23, 2017 at 6:57 AM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu>
> wrote:
>
>> Several early Australian uses at:
>> http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/
>> Newspapers Home - Trove<http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/>
>> trove.nla.gov.au
>> A searchable database from The National Library of Australia.
>>
>>
>>
>>   Stephen
>>
>> rom: American Dialect Society <...> on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole <...>
>> Sent: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 10:51 PM
>> To: ...
>> Subject: Re: [ADS-L] Antedating of "Wacko"
>>
>> Here is "wacko" used as an adjective in 1939 although the meaning is
>> not completely clear.
>>
>> Date: October 26, 1939
>> Newspaper: The Sydney Morning Herald
>> Newspaper Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
>> Quote Page 1, Column 2
>>
>>
>> 26 Oct 1939, Page 1 - The Sydney Morning Herald at Newspapers.com
>>
>>
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> "ESQUIRE'S"
>> THURSDAY TABLE-TALK
>>
>> How do you do?
>>
>> IT'S A TALE OF TWO CITIES. London and Paris. Two cities that have sent
>> "The S. for M." the highest highlights of its very wacko (what was
>> that?) gown range. Pure silks they are, in colours and patterns about
>> as easy to describe without diagram as pons assinorum.
>> [End excerpt]
>>
>> Garson
>>
>> On Tue, Aug 22, 2017 at 10:27 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
>> > On Tue, Aug 22, 2017 at 10:18 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>> >
>> >> On Tue, Aug 22, 2017 at 9:34 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>> >>
>> >>> On Tue, Aug 22, 2017 at 9:08 PM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu
>> >
>> >>> wrote:
>> >>>
>> >>>> wacko (OED 1977)
>> >>>>
>> >>>>
>> >>>> 1965 _The Realist_ 1 Feb. 22/2 (Independent Voices)  Hey nures [sic],
>> >>>> you better give him a shot or something, he's goin' wacko!
>> >>>>
>> >>>
>> >>> Good cite for the adjective. In '06, I provided antedatings for
>> "wacko"
>> >>> as a noun going back to 1938 (also OED2 1977).
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >> Make that 1936 (with the "whacko" spelling).
>> >>
>> >> State Journal (Lansing, Mich.), Apr. 2, 1936, p. 13, col. 5
>> >> "That One Small Word: Why? Dominates Hauptmann Case"
>> >> Courtney Ryley Cooper (International News Service)
>> >> They've got to pick some whacko who won't want the state capital
>> building
>> >> in return for false imprisonment.
>> >
>> > Here's adjectival "whack-o" from 1943.
>> >
>> > News Journal (Wilmington, Del.), Jan. 30, 1943, p. 15, col. 4
>> > "The Payoff" (Harry Grayson, NEA Service Sports Editor)
>> > Because of his greater variety of stuff while he was winning from 21 to
>> 26
>> > games a year, not a few trained observers rated Lefty Gomez the
>> superior of
>> > Lefty Grove, but the gay caballero will be remembered for whack-o
>> > witticisms.
>>
>

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