[Ads-l] wondering about the origin of "sleigh riding" in New York

Paul A Johnston paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Fri Jan 1 18:08:00 EST 2021


It was always a sled to me (b. 1950) but my mom called my Flexible Flyer a "sleigh" (b. 1904, NYC).
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Subject: Re: wondering about the origin of "sleigh riding" in New York

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Subject:      Re: wondering about the origin of "sleigh riding" in New York
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I=E2=80=99ve always had the vague feeling that =E2=80=9Csleigh=E2=80=9D =
can be used to mean =E2=80=9Csled,=E2=80=9D whether as a noun or a verb.=20=


The OED and Merriam-Webster say that a sleigh is =E2=80=9Cusually=E2=80=9D=
 drawn by horses. Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/sleigh =
<https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/sleigh>) rightfully notes that it=E2=80=99=
s usually drawn by an animal, giving an example with Santa Claus.

One OED example has no horses: "At the summit we found basket-work =
sleighs, each constructed to hold two people, and attended by a couple =
of men, lashed together.=E2=80=9D It is a =E2=80=9Cbasket-work sleigh=E2=80=
=9D with steel runners and is steered by men down the slope. =
(https://tinyurl.com/ycon7dqr <https://tinyurl.com/ycon7dqr>). There is =
also a "sleigh=E2=80=9D described as being drawn by bulls/bullocks on pp =
15 and 16.

The OED says that a sled is a sledge or sleigh used as a =
travel/recreation vehicle.

Benjamin Barrett (he/his/him)
Formerly of Seattle, WA

> On 1 Jan 2021, at 13:10, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>=20
> A quick look at DARE indicates that, historically at least, it's a lot =
more
> extensive than that. Def 2 of "sleigh" (including "sleigh riding") is
> listed as "scattered, but esp South Midland, Central Atlantic, Inland
> North." Citations start in 1827 in Pennsylvania.
>=20
> Entry: https://www.daredictionary.com/view/dare/ID_00053234
> Map: https://www.daredictionary.com/view/maps/sleigh2map.png
>=20
>=20
> On Fri, Jan 1, 2021 at 4:04 PM Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at gmail.com> =
wrote:
>=20
>> A quick look at Google indicates it's a NJ thing.
>>=20
>> On Fri, Jan 1, 2021, 1:21 PM Jonathan Lighter =
<wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>=20
>>> I 've never heard the term "sleigh-riding" applied to sleds, but =
when I
>> was
>>> a tad in NYC in the mid-1950s, I called a sled a "sleigh" till I was =
five
>>> or six years old, and I don't recall ever being directly corrected.
>>>=20
>>> "Sleigh" for "sled" is likewise reflected in this:
>>>=20
>>> 1895 _New York Herald_ (Jan. 30) 10: Further on two little girls in
>> knitted
>>> hoods hop cheerily along with a skate apiece, followed at  distance =
by a
>>> tot with a sled. An envious mate calls out, "Ho, don't them Brown =
girls
>>> think they're fine wid skates and a sleigh!"
>>>=20
>>> The Dictionary of American Regional English has an entry with =
quotations
>>> beginning in Ohio in 1827, the first of which actually includes the =
term
>>> "sleigh-riding.":
>>>=20
>>> "Two weeks since, it was ...covered with boys and men amusing =
themselves
>>> with skating and sleigh-riding on the ice, for want of snow."
>>>=20
>>> JL
>>>=20
>>> On Fri, Jan 1, 2021 at 12:11 PM Michael Malone =
<mikemalone5a at gmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>>=20
>>>> Hi! I sincerely hope I did this correctly and did not violate the
>> norms.
>>>> I'm a journalist looking to do a story on the term "sleigh riding",
>> which
>>>> is how snow sledding is referred to in New York, despite there not
>> being
>>> a
>>>> sleigh involved. Wondering if anyone might help trace =
where/when/how
>> the
>>>> term came to be.
>>>> Thank you and happy new year.
>>>> Mike Malone
>>>>=20
>>=20
>=20
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