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

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 13 11:47:09 EST 2017


Ben Yagoda, who initiated this thread, summarized our discussions of the
history of the verb "gaslight" in his latest column for the Chronicle's
Lingua Franca blog.

http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2017/01/12/how-old-is-gaslight/


On Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 6:20 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:

> Here's an example of the verb "gaslight" in "The Grudge Match," an episode
> of "Gomer Pyle: USMC" that aired on 12 Nov. 1965 (antedating OED's 1969
> cite for the verb, as well as the Dec. 1965 cite for the verbal noun).
>
> http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0590040/
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnKkE0nrZx4 at 12:10
> Duke: You know, you guys, I'm wondering. Maybe if we can't get through to
> the Sarge we can get through to the Chief.
> Frankie: How do you mean?
> Duke: I mean psychological warfare.
> Gomer: Huh?
> Duke: The old war on nerves. We'll gaslight him.
>
> Later on (at about 17:35), Duke says:
>
> Oh, he was gaslit all right. If anyone was gaslit it was him. You see,
> Gomer? Psychological warfare, it's the only thing that can save the Sarge.
>
> And at 19:30, Sarge says:
>
> That gaslighting worked on me too.
>
> On Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 5:20 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> I checked with Josh Chetwynd, and he shared a "gaslight" example from a
>> 1952 episode of The Burns & Allen Show entitled "Gracie Buying Boat for
>> George":
>>
>> http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1696383/
>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EG5BFBYo97M
>>
>> At 16:20 in the YouTube video, Harry (Fred Clark) says to Gracie, "Give
>> him the gaslight treatment!" and then explains what that means. A bit later
>> you hear George say, "So they sold Gracie on the gaslight bit."
>>
>> Could this be the original TV incarnation of "the gaslight
>> treatment/bit"? (And could it be what JL was remembering?) Additional
>> "Gaslight" references can be found here:
>>
>> http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036855/movieconnections
>>
>> --Ben
>>
>>
>> On Wed, 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://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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