[Ads-l] gearhead (1967, 1973)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Dec 29 12:39:24 EST 2017

Below is an instance of "gear head" meaning car enthusiast in 1972.
The url for the newspaper page is absurdly long because
fultonhistory.com urls include highlighting information. I can send
you the url or the PDF via email if you wish, Ben. Alternatively,
perform an "exact phrase" search for "leading gear head" at
fultonhistory and you will see the match.

Google indexes the newspaper pages of fultonhistory, but the coverage
is incomplete or defective.

Date: April 27, 1972
Newspaper: The Virden Recorder
Newspaper Location: Virden Illinois
Section: The Bulldog Growl - Virden High School
Volume 9, Number 29
Article: Speedway daredevils
Quote Page 6, Column 4
Database: FultonHistory.com

[Begin excerpt]
Speedway daredevils

In spring, a young man's fancy
supposedly turns to love. But not so
of a particular species of male
found in one of the leading gear head
centers of the world; the death
defying, daredevilish Virden
Speedshifters. Yes, you heard
right, and in case you are
wondering where all the racing
takes place, the main strip is on the
West Fortune Speedway, "where
the big ones run, run, run!"
[End excerpt]


On Fri, Dec 29, 2017 at 9:20 AM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
> This Jalopnik article looks at the early use of "gearhead":
> https://jalopnik.com/heres-the-surprisingly-short-history-of-the-word-gearhe-1821629135
> It cites HDAS, which includes examples from students quoted by JL from 1974
> using "gearhead" to refer to an engineering or math student. OED3 has the
> "car enthusiast" sense from 1975.
> In this example from 1967, "gearhead" seems to refer to an overly studious
> person, particularly in the sciences (quoting Rick Carpenter, junior
> linebacker and chemistry major at Central State University in Wilberforce,
> OH):
> ---
> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/16079109/gearhead_1967/
> Xenia (Ohio) Daily Gazette, Nov. 3, 1967, p. 6
> He has a 3.7 average but insists, "I'm not a gearhead. I never get buried
> in my books. That's what was wrong at the University of Cincinnati when I
> was there. I got in with a bunch of guys who just studied all the time.
> Here at Central State I get a chance to study and play football."
> ---
> Here's the earliest example I've found of "gearhead" meaning "car
> enthusiast," though the writer suggests that it was used earlier, when he
> was in high school:
> ---
> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/16079764/gearhead_1973/
> Waukesha (Wisc.) Daily Freeman, Oct. 10, 1973, p. 8
> Back in high school we called them gearheads. They were the guys who were
> wrapped up in their cars. Most of them had oil in their veins instead of
> blood... This reporter thought that gearheads were an extinct breed until a
> recent encounter with one of them on Main St.
> ---
> --Ben
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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