[Ads-l] The Devil's Triangle

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 28 16:39:50 EDT 2018


For some of us, the only "Devil's Triangle" is the paperback original of
that name by Richard Winer (N.Y.: Bantam, 1974), which detailed high
weirdness taking place in what others called "The Bermuda Triangle" (which
seems to have become pretty blah in recent decades, at least since it was
debunked by Lawrence Kusche and other writers.)

There have been a number of other "Devil's Triangle" books written since -
mostly novels - so the phrase has been familiar for more than 40 years,
always on hand for nonce applications.

I haven't been able to find a single ref. to a drinking game called the
"devil's triangle" before this week.
Which proves nothing about what was happening at Georgetown Prep in 1982.

Equally inconclusive but at least salacious is my recollection (shared by
several million, I'm sure) of a quite startling  drawing in the old
National Lampoon (can't say when, but prob. ca1980) involving a human lady
cavorting pornographically (and I'm not kidding) with a pair of
reptilio-anthropomorphic demons.

The phrase "devil's triangle," IIRC, wasn't used. But it may be that the
conflation of the book title and the picture may have helped bring about
the newly alleged sexual meaning of the phrase - if it really exists.
Anyway, I find only a single ref. to this usage: from 2008, in the
notoriously idiosyncratic/ unreliable Urban Dictionary.

So at the moment, nobody but Judge Kavanaugh can say what he meant by
"devil's triangle" in his 1982 yearbook..

But the phrase long antedates 1974:

1879 J. B. Wakeley  _The American Temperance Cyclopaedia_ (N.Y.: National
Temperance Society) 42: The Devil's Triangle. In a beautiful village in
Columbia County, in the centre, were three places where they sold liquor
and many drunkards were made.  There were three corners; on one a tavern,
on another a tavern, on the third a grocery where the Christian professor
sold rum. A ministerial brother came to assist me. When we arose in the
morning, he looked out and beheld the two taverns and the rum grocery. He
enquired of me: “What! have we got into the devil's triangle "
-- 
"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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


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