[Ads-l] Captain Obvious

Baker, John JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM
Tue Jul 6 12:58:44 EDT 2021


Jon's link doesn't work for me, but I see the article online at https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-origin-of-the-expression-%E2%80%9CCaptain-Obvious%E2%80%9D.  One of the Quora posters found an example that is earlier than I would have guessed, from the periodical Chemical Warfare, vol. 12, no. 8, p. 8 (Aug. 15, 1926), https://books.google.com/books?id=UYIkAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA7-PA8&dq=%22captain+obvious%22&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjqxYnM887xAhVKGVkFHSheBZ0Q6AEwAHoECAwQAg#v=onepage&q=%22captain%20obvious%22&f=false.  This is a photograph of the 302nd Gas Regiment's officers, with each officer listed by name and nickname.  The nickname for Captain Firebaugh is Captain Obvious; the other captains' nicknames are Captain Snores, Captain Insignia, Captain Tentpine, Captain Half Pint, Captain Big Trees, Old Campaigner, Captain Littlebit, and Captain Undertaker.

There is quite a gap between this example and the frequent contemporary use of the term, which seems to start showing up in the 1990s, so there is a good chance that the later use is an independent coinage.


John Baker



From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> On Behalf Of Laurence Horn
Sent: Tuesday, July 6, 2021 12:03 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: Captain Obvious

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And currently popularized in the hotels.com commercials by the (appropriately uniformed) Captain Obvious played by Brendan Moynihan, e.g.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQyOttaZIhM<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQyOttaZIhM>
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJLBPAbjFUQ<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJLBPAbjFUQ>
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhcH0c469F8<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhcH0c469F8>


If he looks familiar, it may be because Moynihan had previously appeared in commercials for Stove Top stuffing before he acquired his commission (and beard):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvHMg2-1btw<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvHMg2-1btw>

LH


> On Jul 6, 2021, at 11:43 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM<mailto:wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>> wrote:
>
> Discussed:
>
> https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-origin-of-the-expression-"Captain-Obvious<https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-origin-of-the-expression-“Captain-Obvious>D
>
>
> JL
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org<http://www.americandialect.org>

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

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