[Ads-l] the Big Apple again

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed Aug 8 18:41:56 EDT 2018

There was an article in the NYTimes of this past Tuesday on words from
sports that have entered general speech.  It quotes Katherine Connor
Martin, head of U.S. dictionaries at Oxford University Press early on, but
I don't know that she is the source of the information given.
I have never heard of "Big Apple" as a 19th century betting term --
 certainly have never encountered it while reading 19th C newspapers.
The Big Apple

Some New Yorkers refer to the Big Apple
<https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/07/style/warren-buffett-omaha.html> as
“the city.” Style, May 7.

In the 19th century, people with a lot of certainty about something might
have said that they were willing to “bet a big apple” on it.  Perhaps that
helped extend the use to horse racing, and New York’s racing circuit, the
most prominent in the country, came to be known by the term.

“The Big Apple,” The Morning Telegraph wrote in 1924. “The dream of every
lad that ever threw a leg over a thoroughbred and the goal of all horsemen.
There’s only one Big Apple. That’s New York.”

Soon all of New York had picked up the name.
A version of this article appears in print on Aug. 7, 2018, on Page B7 of
the New York edition with the headline: Where Do Sports Idioms Come From?
Left Field, Usually.

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.)

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

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