Michael Quinion TheEditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Fri Apr 25 15:47:56 UTC 2003

A delighful folk etymology holds that the aircraft control stick was
originally called a Joyce stick, after its inventer, a Mr Joyce. If
we leave that aside, as we must, we are left with an obvious slang
source in "joy" + "stick", with a first recorded appearance in 1910.

Some etymologists see a crude sexual symbolism in the term, others
not. (The implication from HDAS is that the sense of the penis comes
later than its aviation one and derives from it.)

Has any member of the list done any work on the term or be able to
turn up early references that might tie down its antecedents more

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words
E-mail: <TheEditor at>
Web: <>

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