[Ads-l] metaphorical "litmus test" (1912)

MULLINS, WILLIAM D (Bill) CIV USARMY RDECOM AMRDEC (US) william.d.mullins18.civ at MAIL.MIL
Fri Mar 24 16:05:08 EDT 2017


Slightly earlier:
_Cleveland [OH] Leader_ 4 Sep 1904, p 11 col 4

"The people ring true; the incidents stand the litmus test of our own experiences."
[from a book review]



> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Ben Zimmer
> Sent: Friday, March 24, 2017 11:22 AM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: metaphorical "litmus test" (1912)
> 
> 
> My latest Wall St. Journal column is on the phrase "litmus test" and how it has become a political metaphor.
> 
> https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-litmus-became-a-test-for-court-nominee-gorsuch-1490365660
> 
> If paywalled, you can Google the headline or follow a social media link like this one:
> 
> https://twitter.com/bgzimmer/status/845289601451413504
> 
> OED2 has the figurative sense from 1957, folded into the cites for "litmus." Here are some examples starting in 1912.
> 
> "Still Palming Off Platitudes," Times Dispatch (Richmond, Va.), Feb.
> 22, 1912, p. 4, col. 1
> The tenure of a judge and the life of the people affected by his decision is infinitesimal when subjected to the litmus test of time.
> https://www.newspapers.com/image/146645259/
> http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038615/1912-02-22/ed-1/seq-4/
> 
> "National Politics," Des Moines Register, Feb. 12, 1913, p. 6, col. 6 "Conservation is the litmus test of progressivism. Where do you stand on
> conservation?" was my next question [of Pennsylvania Senator Boies Penrose].
> https://www.newspapers.com/image/128838776/
> 
> "A Penrose-Dimmick Mixture," Chester (Pa.) Times, Feb. 28, 1914, p. 12, col. 3 A special dispatch from Scranton to the North American
> shows the J.
> Benj. Dimmick's candidacy is being put to the litmus test and reveals the presence of Penrose alkalies... The litmus test applied to the
> Dimmick regime shows alcohol.
> https://www.newspapers.com/image/5325232/
> 
> Elbert Hubbard, "Negative Advertising," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 31, 1914, p. 10, col. 5 Any man who thinks that he is necessary to the
> perpetuity of an industry would do well to take a look at himself in a mirror and make sure that his purity of purpose will stand the litmus
> test.
> https://www.newspapers.com/image/85469771/
> 
> "Publicity," Women's Wear, Apr 9, 1915, p. 24, col. 4 Ad Club's Vice of Being Too Virtuous. -- In an article on the editorial page of the New
> York American, Elbert Hubbard said in part [...] "Advertise as you wish, but do not get dogmatic and apply the litmus test to your neighbor."
> 
> similar quote in "The Vices of Virtue," The Philistine, June 1915, pp. 5-6
> https://books.google.com/books?id=yrs0AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA6
> 
> "Little Theater Called Hope of Dramatic Art," Christian Science Monitor, June 6, 1916, p. 10, col. 1 [Prof. Albert Hatton Gilmer of Tufts
> College, in an address before the Drama League of America at its recent national convention in St.
> Louis:] "The drama must stand the litmus test of actor and audience."
> 
> --bgz
> 
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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