[Ads-l] _catchier_ "more contagious, more 'catching'"

James Eric Lawson jel at NVENTURE.COM
Thu Feb 11 15:45:53 EST 2021

>From a mid-twentieth century upbringing in the upper south US, along the
Missouri-Illinois border, I had the idea the use of 'catchy' in the
sense of "contagious" was colloquial, and confined to the US south.
Later life (later adolescence, youth, mid-life, dotage) in the upper
Midwest (Chicago, Minneapolis, Des Moines, Chadron) and West (Wyoming,
Washington coast), including voracious reading, did not disabuse me of
that notion.

Online DARE does not record the sense. OED confirms the colloquial part,
but evidences a much wider range, with a first quote from the Sheffield
& Rotherham Independent of 1 Jan 1884: "The disease was of so subtle and
so catchy a nature that when once it had got a hold it was almost
impossible to stop it." Their next quote is a figurative use from the 3
Mar 1928 North Adams Transcript (Massachusetts), suggesting use of that
sense in Massachusetts was well-established even then: "It's a terribly
catchy disease, is politics, and it leaves its mark for life on the

So, now Cambridge, Massachusetts. Use of the comparative seems
unremarkable in that context, but I'll gladly eat my words if
appropriate condiments (BBQ sauce and relish) are provided.


Please forgive me if I unwittingly violate some of the unwritten terms
or conditions of the ADS-L discussion.

On 2/11/21 8:33 AM, Wilson Gray wrote:
> Harvard Gazette sub-head:
> "Experts urge upgrading to an N95 or doubling up as _catchier_ COVID
> strains surge in the U.S."

James Eric Lawson

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list