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

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jan 11 16:28:47 EST 2017


My mother, in the mid- to late 1950s, was fond of alluding to “gaslight” under the same circumstances (also with tongue in cheek, not actual paranoia), sometimes by saying “Gaslight” holophrastically, but as far as I can recall she didn’t use it as a verb.

LH

> On Jan 11, 2017, at 4:23 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> In "Lucy Gets Mooney Fired," Lucy says, "We'll give Cheever the gaslight
> treatment." At 11:55 here:
> 
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.youtube.com_watch-3Fv-3DIN9ydOxNXhc&d=CwIFaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=66Gn5I-paADZZosbKyHA5RxZ7igNS_5psXEkhgVintQ&s=0FOjd3KKExDfoseFHSIvGkuEtVgDbLHYXFDeak96HIM&e= 
> 
> 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://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__books.google.com_books-3Fid-3Duwx5DQAAQBAJ-26pg-3DPA72&d=CwIFaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=66Gn5I-paADZZosbKyHA5RxZ7igNS_5psXEkhgVintQ&s=m1tsmr1xP_EtHYU49PdFA_OJGwKV5a1aL1P18i2fLuk&e= 
> 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://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.youtube.com_watch-3Fv-3DAEg-2D3yqLLVQ&d=CwIFaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=66Gn5I-paADZZosbKyHA5RxZ7igNS_5psXEkhgVintQ&s=kJvoP03Nh7hhKTWpQLoQPWQ_92bQLl1dTLKDrEciA54&e= 
>>> 
>>> --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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