Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Fri Dec 31 11:06:53 UTC 2004

On Fri, 31 Dec 2004 02:09:37 -0600, Mullins, Bill
<Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL> wrote:

>I understand the good Mr. Popik has already researched this word, but his
>efforts are lost in the DSL archives.  So if this is duplicative, my
>OED has 1903 for the noun, 1913 for the verb form, and 1904 for yeggman
>"A Bank Burglars' Union Story of the "Yeggmen" and Their Expert Operations
>with Nitroglycerine"
>New York Times (1857-Current file); Sep 15, 1901; pg. SM7
>The Washington Post Nov 17, 1900; pg. 9/7
>"Detective Horne believes the work was done by a member of a class of
>burglars known as "Yeggmen," or "Yeggs." "

Looks like the _Cincinnati Enquirer_ first broke the "yegg" story (so
perhaps Barry has been there, done that?)...

_Marion (Ohio) Daily Star_ June 23, 1900, p. 15/3
William Burns, who recently murdered a defenseless tramp at Covington and
jumped from the suspension bridge on the Ohio river in a vain effort to
escape the police, belongs to the class of criminals known as "yeggmen."
... From all parts of the country have come reports of the depredations
and atrocities committed by "yeggmen," says the Cincinnati Enquirer, but
this vicinity thus far has been immune from the presence of these tough
characters. It is the consensus of public opinion that the men are
desperate crooks. They talk and act like "yeggmen" and dropped several
slang phrases while being interviewed by an Enquirer reporter. Their lingo
is the language of the "yegg." No other crook uses it, and their phrases
would be Greek to the average citizen. It is the custom of the average
"yegg" to kill any "pal" who "peaches" on him.
New York Times, Aug 12, 1900, p. 12/1
TRAMP BURGLAR CAPTURED; "Frisco Slim" Caught by Detectives in Brooklyn.
Wanted for a Daring Bank Robbery in Strasburg, Va. -- The "Yeggman's

There's also an article on the APS database called "In The World of Graft"
(Josiah Flynt, _McClure's Magazine_, Feb 1901) with lots of "yegg" argot.

--Ben Zimmer

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