Instances of unmodified hair-day

David Bowie db.list at BYU.EDU
Fri Feb 11 21:03:37 UTC 2000

From: <RonButters at AOL.COM>
: In a message dated 2/11/2000 2:21:38 PM, db.list at BYU.EDU writes:

: : I may have missed it if it got mentioned earlier in this
: : (interminable) thread, but is there any evidence of "hair day"
: : being used *before* "bad hair day" (or perhaps "good hair day",
: : if that came earlier)? If not, then maybe the ability to use
: : "hair day" by itself is the result of a change in progress, with
: : people like me not involved in the change.

: Well, golly, for the last two days we have been posting ordinary,
: garden-variety sentences in which "hair day" occurs without any
: modification! The point is, since such examples occur as the result
: of normal rules of English, one does not need to cite actual
: occurences to establish their authenticity. That is to say, neither
: "bad-hair day" nor "bad hair-day" can be thought of as "coming
: first" since they both necessarily have been there all along. The
: only thing that could be thought of as "recent" is the compound
: "bad hair"--since it is a word and not a construction.

I'll let others be vocally astonished at unwillingness to even look at
attestations of forms, but i will note that i just got back from teaching my
introductory linguistics class their first class on morphology, and the
class got to come up with a bunch of words that have "been there all
along"--'rejumpification' being one of the best. Of course,
'rejumpification' doesn't occur as an English word--just because something
*can* occur doesn't mean it *does*.

I ask again--which is attested first: '[unmodified] hair day' or 'bad/good
hair day'?

<snip throwaway question i'd answer yes to>

David Bowie                                       Department of English
Assistant Professor                            Brigham Young University
db.list at    
   The opinions stated here are not necessarily those of my employer

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