"Jazz" is not attested before 1913

Jonathon Green slang at CRAYFORD.DEMON.CO.UK
Thu Mar 29 10:00:16 UTC 2001

I have been forwarded Gerald Cohen's dismissal of the 'late 19C+' dating for
'jazz', meaning sexual intercourse. As a long-time admirer of his researches
into slang I bow unreservedly to Mr. Cohen's superior knowledge as regards
the term. I shall amend my date accordingly. The second edition, however,
may be a few years down the line. I would be the first to acknowledge the
problem of dating slang - one that I would suggest transcends even that of
its etymology. As regards 'jazz', I think that I may, perhaps mistakenly,
have been 'reverse engineering' from various references - e.g. 1927 Journal
of Abnormal & Social Psychology; 1959 The Jazz Scene (Francis Newton) -
which state that the term had been long used by African Americans as a
synon. for sex and as such was a precursor of the musical use. Given the
earliest 'musical' citations are in 1910s, it seemed arguable to predate as
I did. That of course still doesn't offer a late 19C citation - I stand

Researching my current work, a properly cited and expanded version of that
dictionary to which Mr Cohen refers, and currently entitled The Cassell
Historical Dict. of Slang (3 vols., scheduled for 2005) I am constantly
discovering earlier dating of slang usage. This is hardly a boast (although
the chance to improve one's work is always welcome) but my only excuse is
that as a maker of large dictionaries I have to bow to certain pressures
that would not attain to Mr Cohen's more focussed, 'pointilliste'

Jonathon Green

PS. I would be grateful for Gerald Cohen's email address for further

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