[Ads-l] pull(ing) (off) a PN (Ty Cobb) stunt

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Wed Feb 10 03:48:15 EST 2021


Thanks, Bill. My interests include some uses of "pull(ing)," and yes PN  = personal name here.

a) On "pull a PN stunt," or "pull a PN" (without the word "stunt") I'm interested in the origin and evolution. For example, some have used to "pull a Lewinsky." The name being characteristic of some action. Ty Cobb was a versatile player (with characteristic moves?). Was there an earlier person who sparked the phrase?

b) On "pull someone's leg," I suppose it has not yet been fully explained. Thanks, James Eric, but (pace) I currently do think it came from mariner use, and I don't think it came from execution by hanging, which is so remote from (OED's) "to deceive a person humorously or playfully; to tease a person."

Stephen
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From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of MULLINS, WILLIAM D (Bill) CIV USARMY DEVCOM AVMC (USA) <0000099bab68be9a-dmarc-request at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Sent: Tuesday, February 9, 2021 6:06 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Subject: Re: pull(ing) (off) a PN (Ty Cobb) stunt


15 Mar 1901 Baltimore Sun p 7 col 3
"For the 29 Archers to practice a William Tell stunt there are 8 apples, and in case any of their engines of war are broken in stretching the long stave too far there are a couple of bows in the Directory who can be used in an emergency."

03 Jan 1907 Washington DC Evening Star p 16 col 1
"Will Try the Houdini Stunt" [headline]

Are you interested only in forms "[PN] stunt"?  (I assume that is "Personal Name") Or the broader use of a person's name to refer to a specific action?


20 Jul 1901 Butte MT Daily Post p 6 col 3
"With a splash and a gurgle, the disciple of Bachus did a sudden "Brodie" into the murky element  . . ."
  [Steve Brodie supposedly jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge in 1886]



[14 Jun 1909] ....Cruikshank pulled off a Ty Cobb stunt. The first man up in the ninth hit a short fly to right, Cruikshank rushed in in time to grab the ball and throw the runner out at first. The Courier, Waterloo Iowa 2/5]

Lots of later (and maybe earlier) "Ty Cobb stunt" usages.

Was Ty Cobb the earliest PN for such trademark stunts?

Stephen



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