[Ads-l] Antedating "hophead"

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Fri Feb 3 13:52:37 EST 2017

This is a minimalistic antedating, but there was an article about "hop heads" in the same newspaper, Aug. 3, 1895, page 14.

Fred Shapiro

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Peter Reitan <pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM>
Sent: Thursday, February 2, 2017 7:15 PM
Subject: Antedating "hophead"

In 2012, John Baker posted (Sat Jun 16 21:08:02 UTC 2012) a slight antedating of "hophead" in a Rube Goldberg "Foolish Questions" cartoon from 1909 (M-W had it from 1911).

"Hophead" dates to at least 1895.  For nearly a decade, it appears in print almost exclusively in San Francisco or in article about San Francisco's opium dens and fiends.

The earliest example I found is in the San Francisco Call, August 4, 1895, page 24.  It is a full page expose about "How Whites Smoke Opium in Chinatown", complete with several illustrations, including one of a couple of "hop heads" lounging in "Ah Sing's Hop Joint".

Is "Hop" a Chinese word? - or a Chinese accent-influenced corruption of the first syllable of opium? - mispronunciation of "dope"?

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