[Ads-l] gearhead (1967, 1973)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Dec 29 13:53:11 EST 2017


Thanks Ben.
While searching I found a letter in 1897 signed "J. S. Gearhead"
within an advertisement for "The Rex Hog Remedy". Initially, I thought
the name was meant to be jocular, but Ancestry.com lists some people
with the last name Gearhead. Also, the hog remedy does not involve
gears. Thus, researchers should be careful when evaluating groups of
Gearheads.

Date: 1897 August 12
Newspaper: Crittenden Press
Newspaper Location: Marion, Kentucky
Quote Page 2
Database: Newspapers.com

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/16088680/gearhead/

Garson


On Fri, Dec 29, 2017 at 1:24 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
> The Jalopnik article has now been updated with the antedatings that Garson
> and I found.
>
> https://jalopnik.com/heres-the-surprisingly-short-history-of-the-word-gearhe-1821629135
>
> On Fri, Dec 29, 2017 at 1:08 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> Thanks, Garson. Here's a direct link to the page image for the 1972
>> example.
>>
>> http://fultonhistory.com/Newspaper%2018/Virden%20IL%
>> 20Reporter/Virden%20IL%20Recorder%201972/Virden%20IL%
>> 20Recorder%201972%20-%200318.pdf
>>
>> I agree it might be a bit ambiguous, but a later hit for "gearhead" from
>> the same source makes it clear that we're talking about car enthusiasts of
>> the hot-rodder variety.
>>
>> Virden (Ill.) Recorder, Sept. 19, 1974, p. 6A
>> The cars will be wacky, weird, or just plain old "gearhead" cars.
>> http://fultonhistory.com/Newspaper%2018/Virden%20IL%
>> 20Reporter/Virden%20IL%20Recorder%201974/Virden%20IL%
>> 20Recorder%201974%20-%201003.pdf
>>
>>
>> On Fri, Dec 29, 2017 at 12:55 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole <
>> adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>>> The text might be considered ambiguous. The phrase "gear head centers"
>>> might refer to a place with many pieces of hardware instead of car
>>> enthusiasts. I guess that ambiguity would provide a fun mechanism for
>>> the creation of the slang term.
>>> Garson
>>>
>>> On Fri, Dec 29, 2017 at 12:39 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole
>>> <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> > 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]
>>> >
>>> > Garson
>>> >
>>> > 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.
>>> >> ---
>>>
>>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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