Bennies (slang term for Benzedrine)

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Wed Dec 22 13:18:18 UTC 2004

On Wed, Dec 22, 2004 at 04:51:13AM -0500, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
> On Wed, 22 Dec 2004 03:59:13 EST, Jerry E Kane <Jerryekane at AOL.COM> wrote:
> >When I saw the post bennies, I immediately thought of the slang term bennies
> >(or uppers, circa 1950's for Benzedrine tablets) used by people to get a
> >euphoric temporary high and to ward off sleep.  The drug was very popular
> >among beatniks.
> That was my first thought too, given all the drug terminology that's been
> floating around the list.  OED2 has a first cite of 1955 for "bennies"
> (from _Amer. Speech_), but Newspaperarchive turns up a 1947 syndicated
> column by Earl Wilson:
>   Syracuse (NY) Herald Journal, Nov 4, 1947, p. 2, col. 1
>   A new thrill to the Greenwich Village stay-up set is canapes filled
>   with benzedrine (also known as bennies or bee-bees).
> MWCD11 gives 1945... does HDAS have it that far back?

No, HDAS has 1949.


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