"Gurney" etymology

Wed Apr 14 23:01:02 UTC 2004

        The etymology given in Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate sounds plausible:  probably ultimately from _Gurney cab_ type of horse-drawn cab with a rear entrance, from J. Theodore _Gurney,_ who patented such a cab in Boston in 1883.

        This 1904 cite may be an antedating, though I suppose the cab theory is at least equally likely.  "The respondent, after setting out in her complaint in detail the cause and nature of her injuries, and the several ways she had been damaged by reason thereof, demanded judgment for loss of wages, for amounts she had paid and contracted for gurney hire, for amounts she had paid and contracted for drugs and medicines, physicians' services, hospital charges, and 'for damages caused by permanent injuries,' but made no special demand for damages caused by pain and suffering."  Gallamore v. City of Olympia, 75 P. 978, 34 Wash. 379 (1904).

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
Of Douglas G. Wilson
Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2004 10:27 PM
Subject: "Gurney" etymology

Is the origin of "gurney" = "wheeled cart or bed" (medical and other
jargon, I think) known?

I am surprised to find no very plausible origin in quick Web-search. My
dictionaries have nothing very likely; AHD mentions a horse-drawn cab from
1883, but I think the current usage dates from about 50 years later.

A notion which occurs to me involves the Gurney brand of ball bearings. Has
anybody looked into this?

-- Doug Wilson

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