[Ads-l] [Non-DoD Source] Re: "Gaslight" as a verb only five decades old

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 11 16:23:17 EST 2017


In "Lucy Gets Mooney Fired," Lucy says, "We'll give Cheever the gaslight
treatment." At 11:55 here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IN9ydOxNXhc

Later, Mooney says to Lucy, "You may be able to work that gaslight stuff
with Mr. Cheever, but don't try to pull it on me."

Close, but no verbing. "Gaslight treatment" does appear in print in 1966, a
year before the "Lucy Show" episode (but a year after the Reporter article).

---
New York Amsterdam News, Mar. 26, 1966, p. 14, col. 1
"P.S." by Cathy W. Aldridge
In one household, the husband is giving the wife the "gaslight" treatment,
and in the other, the wife is "playing" like crazy.
---

>From Josh Chetwynd's new book, _Totally Scripted: Idioms, Words, and Quotes
from Hollywood to Broadway That Have Changed the English Language_:

---
https://books.google.com/books?id=uwx5DQAAQBAJ&pg=PA72
At first, the idea of _gaslighting_ was picked up for benign purposes.
Beginning in the 1950s, TV sitcom writers named scenarios where one
character was fooling another as the _gaslight treatment_ or the _gaslight
bit_. Programs like _The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show_, _Car 54,
Where are You?_ and _Make Room for Daddy_ all used the _gaslight treatment_
to comedic effect.
---

On Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 12:22 PM, MULLINS, WILLIAM D (Bill) CIV USARMY
RDECOM AMRDEC (US) <william.d.mullins18.civ at mail.mil> wrote:

> I vaguely recall an episode of the The Lucy Show in which gaslighting is a
> plot element.  Google reveals:
>
> "06) Episode 141: “Lucy Gets Mooney Fired” (Aired: 11/06/67 | Filmed:
> 09/21/67)
>
> Lucy inadvertently gets Mooney fired after she covers up a bank shortage.
> To convince Cheever to give Mooney his job back, Lucy gives him the
> Gaslight treatment.
>
> Written by Fred S. Fox and Seaman Jacobs
>
> I love how kooky this episode is WITHOUT managing to insult its audience’s
> intelligence. Taking a cue from Gaslight (1944), Lucy decides to make
> Cheever think he has gone crazy, so that he’ll agree to rehire Mr. Mooney.
> The script itself isn’t that funny, but the bits Lucy does to make Cheever
> flip are great. This is, deservedly, a fan favorite."
>
>
>
>
>
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On
> Behalf Of Ben Zimmer
> > Sent: Wednesday, January 11, 2017 10:23 AM
> > To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> > Subject: [Non-DoD Source] Re: "Gaslight" as a verb only five decades old
> >
> > All active links contained in this email were disabled.  Please verify
> the identity of the sender, and confirm the authenticity of all links
> > contained within the message prior to copying and pasting the address to
> a Web browser.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > ----
> >
> > There's a 1956 "I Love Lucy" episode called "Lucy Meets Charles Boyer,"
> in which Ricky conspires with Charles Boyer to make Lucy think that
> > Boyer is merely a lookalike. There are obvious parallels to "Gaslight,"
> but I watched the episode here and I didn't hear anything about
> > "gaslighting":
> >
> > Caution-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEg-3yqLLVQ
> >
> > --Ben
> >
> >
> > On Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 10:49 AM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > > Jon: The earliest HDAS cite is from 1956, quoting an unnamed NYC
> > > woman, age 41. There's nothing about "I Love Lucy," and I've never
> > > heard anything about the show spreading the word. Do you have more
> > > information on this you can share?
> > >
> > > --Ben
> > >
> > >
> > > On Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 11:11 AM, Jonathan Lighter
> > > <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
> > > wrote:
> > >
> > >> Check HDAS, with earlier cite from "I Love Lucy" - which probably
> > >> popularized the verb through infinite reruns.
> > >>
> > >> JL
> > >>
> > >> On Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 10:28 AM, Yagoda, Ben <byagoda at udel.edu>
> wrote:
> > >>
> > >> > George Cukor’s 1944 film was in turn based on a 1938 play by
> > >> > Patrick Hamilton. The OED’s first citation for “gaslight” as a
> > >> > verb is a
> > >> sentence
> > >> > from a 1965 article in “The Reporter”: "Some troubled persons
> > >> > having
> > >> even
> > >> > gone so far as to charge malicious intent and premeditated
> > >> ‘gaslighting.’”
> > >> >
> > >>
> > >
>

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