Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Thu Dec 16 21:18:39 UTC 2004

A few senses of "screamie(s)" (none yet in the OED)...

1) talking pictures (used in 1930s film advertising), eventually coming to
refer only to low-budget horror movies:

Coshocton (Ohio) Tribune, Aug 2, 1930, p. 6 (film ad)
Marie Dressler - Polly Moran - in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's Screamie! with
Anita Page - Caught Short.

Mansfield (Ohio) News, Jan 7, 1933, p. 9 (film ad)
The funniest pair in pictures in their new 6-reel screamie.

Lincoln (Nebraska) Star, Dec 16, 1934, p. B8
Even those who called the first sound films "screamies" and predicted utter
failure for the studios who adopted them, take the finished product as a
matter of course and tell their amusing stories about the old "silents."

Lima (Ohio) News, Mar 31, 1935, p. 23
George Burns and Gracie Allen, gay radio comics, romp thru another film
"screamie" at the Sigma.

Frederick (Maryland) Post, Sep 8, 1942, p. 4
Apparently RKO never recovered from its confusion, because it kept on
casting him in gangster quickies and Lupe Velez screamies.

Bridgeport (Connecticut) Telegram, Nov 4, 1947, p. 8
One of the charges made before the Congressional Committee investigating
the Screamies is that the Communist film literati considered it a good
day's work, rating a pat on the back from Moscow, if they could slip in a
scene, a line or a moment in a picture ridiculing the rich and holding
them up to contempt and contumely, or making villains out of them.

Council Bluffs (Iowa) Nonpareil, Sep 22, 1955, p. 4
We ... have witnessed the invention of the automobile and airplane, and
have seen the miracle of the talking machine, the movies, the screamies,
radio, television, electronics, jet propulsion and split atoms.

The Observer, Apr 30, 1995, p. 8 (Nexis)
Nevertheless, he is forever associated with the tin age of low-budget
British horror, an era celebrated by Bravo TV's Christopher Lee season
next month, which features The Face Of Fu Manchu, I, Monster and Rasputin
The Mad Monk. He insists that of his 235 films only 20 are screamies.

2) tabloid newspapers (with "screaming" headlines)

Syracuse (New York) Herald Journal, Jul 15, 1941, p. 19
It out-yellowed all yellow sheets. It was the forerunner to the hysterical
tabloids. It was the inspiration of the London two pence screamies.

3) screaming young fans of rock stars or other celebrities

New York Times, May 28, 1967, p. SM13
Not just any teen-ager with longish hair and a pair of boots is a
teeny-bopper. Coexisting with them are ... the screamies -- younger
children, usually girls, from 9 to 12, who are only beginning to awaken to
the world around and have not yet developed any cool about themselves,
screaming and fainting at the few big-name concerts they are allowed to go

Toronto Star, Nov 21, 1990, p. B4 (Nexis)
This worked so well that sleepers like "Right About Now" were transformed
by sheer enthusiasm into campfire singalongs, which was just right
considering the age of the screamies who jammed stage front.

(Sydney, Australia) Daily Telegraph, Mar 28, 1998, p. 25 (Nexis)
The events in Canada will make the debate even more relevant, because
there is no doubt that in the world of instantaneous mass media contagion,
William is now a fully paid-up icon for the screamies.

(London) Guardian, Oct 16, 1998, p. 2 (Nexis)
Erupting decorously into Britain's wan mid-Atlantic musical scene of the
fifties, young Harry Webb got the Elvis treatment when he metamorphosed
into Cliff Richard: a mob of little screamies, the passing disapproval of
mothers of his hip movements, the satirical youth movie Expresso Bongo
(1959) followed by bland fare typified by The Young Ones (1961).

Some variations on sense 3:

* teen(y)-screamies

(London) Independent, Aug 25, 1994, p. 26 (Nexis)
"Appearing" at "a very special party" to "perform" all their hits and
more, teen-screamies E17 are not expected to hit many bum notes.

(Sydney, Australia) Daily Telegraph, Jun 29, 2002, p. 102 (Nexis)
There is a genuine crowd admiration for Henman, leaving out the
heart-throb stuff tennis teeny-screamies have.

* screamy-bopper

Los Angeles Times, Oct 14, 1985, p. 3 (Proquest)
For anyone who's followed the Cure and its leader Robert Smith's career,
it seemed unlikely that this veteran English post-punk outfit would become
Tiger Beat material. But at a sold-out Irvine Meadows on Saturday night,
the former patron saints of the doom-for-lunch bunch were greeted by
zealous hordes of screamy-boppers, riveted by Smith's whines of

(New York) Daily News, Feb 03, 1997, p. 32 (Nexis)
>From the squeaky-clean, boy-next-door croons of Ricky Nelson to the
faux-bad-boy rapping of the New Kids on the Block, screamy-bopper stars
provide the training wheels of pop fandom.

Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Journal Sentinel, Jul 3, 1999, p. 8 (Nexis)
Every dip, nod, strut, shrug or microphone caress by lead singer Goran
Kralj brought yips of excitement from the screamy-boppers down front.

(New York) Daily News, Dec 28, 1999, p. 34 (Nexis)
In the year just ending, the No. 2 spot went to - guess what - another
screamy-bop fave, Britney Spears, who pushed in excess of 7 million

* screamy-teen(y) (Usenet newsgroup), Mar 5, 1999
Is Wilmington a big spring break destination for screamy-teens?

The Scotsman, Aug 5, 2000, p. 7 (Nexis)
If you're a screamy teeny she's the lucky girl who got to interview
Boyzone for BBC children's TV.

--Ben Zimmer

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