[Ads-l] Captain Obvious

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
Subject: Re: Captain Obvious

External Email - Think Before You Click

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


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):



> 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>

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

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list