[Ads-l] zoot

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Wed Jul 14 09:57:21 EDT 2021

>From a song with a 1941 (?) copyright and 1942 recordings): “I want a zoot suit with a reet pleat and a stuff cuff And a drape shape….” Greens Dictionary o Slang documents “reet” meaning “right” and suggests, note the question mark “? New Orleans patois zoot, cute.”

March of Time (newsreel) NY, NY Jan 1, 1942 [ProQuest] starting 16;25
NARRATOR  In hundreds of cities, editors have called public attention to the indifference of a selfish, pleasure seeking minority to the nation's critical need for conserving its rubber and gasoline. By good natured ridicule, they have made the jitterbug's zoot suit a badge of mental irresponsibility in this time of grave crisis.

According to Stuart Cosgrove, "The Zoot Suit and Style Warfare," History Workshop Journal 18 Autumn 1984, p. 78:
"By the late 1930s, the term 'zoot' was in common circulation within urban jazz culture. Zoot meant something worn or performed in an extravagant style, and since many young blacks wore suits with outrageously padded shoulders and trousers that were fiercely tapered at the ankles, the term zoot-suit passed into everyday usage."


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

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