Language of sports

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Wed Nov 14 20:20:47 UTC 2001

On Wed, 14 Nov 2001, Patti Kurtz wrote:

> I have a student doing a linguistics project on spots language-- where it
> came from and/or how/why the terms are used by sports announcers (or
> alternatively, how such terms have come into common use).  Can anyone send
> me a good couple of reference son this topic so I can forward them to him?

Edward J. Nichols's 1939 dissertation from Penn State, "Historical
Dictionary of Baseball Terminology," has some good information along these
lines.  A more accessible source, Paul Dickson's New Dickson Baseball
Dictionary, draws heavily on Nichols and adds other information as well.
Other good sources are Peter Davies, Historical Dictionary of Golfing
Terms and W. J. Lewis, Language of Cricket, although Lewis basically
repeats information from the OED and Davies sometimes fails to consult the

Needless to say, the OED and the Random House Historical Dictionary of
American Slang shed much light on sports terms in their relevant entries.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Public Services     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at     

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