[Ads-l] Antedating of "Wacko"

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Aug 23 16:08:09 EDT 2017


In browsing through some wacko "whacko" references yesterday, I got the impression that it was Australian slang with a positive connotation.


It doesn't seem to have meant wacko, wacky, crazy as it does in the US.


"'It's terrific' America says, but Australia says 'whacko'."

"How They Say it in Australia," The Baltimore Sun, June 29, 1941, The Week Magazine, page 15 (Newspapers.com).


"Should a kindly host pour me a noble Montrachet with my filet de sole, nothing in the world is going to stop me from shouting 'Eureka' or 'Whacko'."

"The Finer Points of Ettiquette," Sydney Morning Herald, November 6, 1949, page 2 (Newspapers.com).


________________________________
From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Wednesday, August 23, 2017 12:31:50 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: Antedating of "Wacko"

---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
Subject:      Re: Antedating of "Wacko"
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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.
>>
>

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

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


More information about the Ads-l mailing list