[Ads-l] finding sympathy in the dictionary

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 29 18:39:39 EST 2017


Thanks, George and Garson. I've added another update on my Strong Language
post noting your finds.

Garson's example from "The (Old) Farmer's Almanack" matches the one that I
found from 1880 in The Hub, as noted on in my post. But the correct date is
1857, not 1852 (the item appears in the almanac for the coming year, 1858).


On Wed, Nov 29, 2017 at 6:20 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole <
adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:

> Excellent find, GAT.
>
> Back in October there was a discussion thread initiated by Ben Zimmer
> about a related scatological quip based on sympathy and the
> dictionary.
>
> "If you're looking for sympathy, you can find it in the dictionary
> between 'shit' and 'syphilis.'"
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2017-October/149679.html
>
> Ben wrote an article for the Strong Language blog and he included a
> mention of precursor joke: "One place you can always find sympathy"
> "In the dictionary."
>
> https://stronglang.wordpress.com/2017/10/19/where-can-you-find-sympathy/
>
> Ben listed an 1880 citation, and your 1868 citation is a fine advance.
>
> Following your lead with a search in Google Books I found an 1852 citation.
>
> Year: 1852
> Title: The (Old) Farmer's Almanack
> Publisher: Jenks, Palmer & Company
> Database: Google Books Full View
>
> https://books.google.com/books?id=-jNJAQAAMAAJ&q=%
> 22find+sympathy%22#v=snippet&
>
> [Begin excerpt]
> SYMPATHY
> "My brudders," said a waggish colored man to a crowd, "in all
> afliction, in all ob your troubles, dar is one place you can always
> find sympathy." — "Whar? Whar?" – "In de dictionary," he replied,
> rolling his eyes skyward.
> [End excerpt]
>
> Garson
>
>
> On Wed, Nov 29, 2017 at 5:13 PM, George Thompson
> <george.thompson at nyu.edu> wrote:
> > What is the state of play on this expression?  It's not in YDQ, and it
> > seems not to be in Popik's Big Apple.
> >
> > WHERE can even the most miserable always find sympathy? In the
> dictionary.
> >
> > *Publication: *Frank Leslie's Weekly
> > *Date: *AUGUST 15, 1868
> >
> > Found through the Accessible Archives database -- while looking for
> > something else, of course.
> >
> >
> > GAT
> >
> > --
> > George A. Thompson
> > The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
> > Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
> > Univ. Pr., 1998.
> >
> > But when aroused at the Trump of Doom / Ye shall start, bold kings, from
> > your lowly tomb. . .
> > L. H. Sigourney, "Burial of Mazeen", Poems.  Boston, 1827, p. 112
> >
> > The Trump of Doom -- also known as The Dunghill Toadstool.  (Here's a
> > picture of his great-grandfather.)
> > http://www.parliament.uk/worksofart/artwork/james-
> gillray/an-excrescence---a-fungus-alias-a-toadstool-upon-a-dunghill/3851
> >
>
>

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