A newly popular word

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Wed Dec 8 23:33:16 UTC 2004

On Wed, 8 Dec 2004 16:52:12 -0600, Mullins, Bill
<Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL> wrote:

>> From: Rebecca Larche Moreton [mailto:mlrlm at OLEMISS.EDU]
>> Sent: Wednesday, December 08, 2004 4:39 PM
>> Can anyone tell me what "wing-nut" means in articles on
>> recent politics, and something about its use in whatever its
>> meaning is there? Thanks in advance.
>Probably comes from "left wing nut" or "right wing nut".  I've seen it
>applied to nuts on either side of the spectrum (along with "moonbat", which
>I like better).

That seems to be the likely derivation.  But it's not particularly new...
the Usenet archive shows that it first started popping up in 1989:

  Message-ID: <16451 at watdragon.waterloo.edu>
  Date: 17 Sep 89 06:48:08 GMT
  Although the telepaths in the campaign world my egoist is in probably
  -shouldn't- be trusted to behave themselves, since about half of them
  are serious wingnuts...

  Message-ID: <1039 at nsscb.UUCP>
  Date: 31 Oct 89 23:58:32 GMT
  Hey! You wingnut! Don't get so hyper.

  Message-ID: <1601 at mrsvr.UUCP>
  Date: 22 Nov 89 22:34:58 GMT
  Did Henry Ford II really become a wing-nut towards the end of his life?

--Ben Zimmer

More information about the Ads-l mailing list