[Ads-l] Antedating of "Tetherball"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jan 22 22:29:21 EST 2022

The OED definition for tether-ball says:

[Begin excerpt from OED]
tether-ball n. a ball fastened to or suspended from a pole by a
string; the game played with this (Webster Suppl. 1902).
[End excerpt from OED]

The OED gives a 1900 citation and Fred gives an excellent 1892
citation. The term "tether-ball" seems to refer to a family of games
with varying rules. The core element of each game is a ball fastened
to a pole as indicated in the OED definition. Here is an 1875

Date: October 16, 1875
Periodical: The Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News
Article: Tether-Ball. A New Game.
Quote Page 57, Column 2 and 3


[Begin excerpt – double check for errors]
A new game is introduced to our notice by "Tether-Ball" :— "I think
many of our readers will be glad to know of a capital new game, which
can be set up at a trilling outlay on a lawn of any size. All that is
wanted is a threepenny indiarubber ball, made fast to the end of
threepennyworth of elastic cord, the other end of which is tied to the
top of a pole some 110 ft high, firmly fixed in the middle of the
lawn. The cord should be of such length as to allow the ball just to
swing clear of the grass at the foot of the pole. In its simplest form
the game is for two players, who stand on opposite sides of a crease
drawn from the foot of the pole to right and left, and are armed with
battledores or racket-bats. One of the players starts the ball,
drawing it away from the pole and striking it a smart blow in any
direction he pleases; he will soon learn how best to baffle the enemy.
. . .

I can promise great entertainment to anyone with a taste for a game
who will make trial of this easy and elastic game of tether-ball."
[End excerpt]


On Sat, Jan 22, 2022 at 9:45 PM Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu> wrote:
> tetherball (OED 1900)
> 1892 Nottinghamshire Guardian 24 Sept. 4/5 (Newspapers.com)
> Fred Shapiro
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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