Earliest Reference to "Ghoti"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Dec 13 02:26:47 UTC 2006

At 9:00 PM -0500 12/12/06, Fred Shapiro wrote:
>I have previously posted a 1938 reference to "ghoti" as a spelling of
>"fish."  This was, I believe, the earliest reference anyone had ever
>Here's a slightly earlier one I just discovered:
>1937 _Garfieldian_ (Chicago, Ill.) 18 Nov. 6/8 (Newspaperarchive.com)  The
>office puzzler came in a moment ago to ask how we would pronounce the word
>ghoti if the gh were pronounced as in rough, the o as in women, and the ti
>as in notion.
>Fred Shapiro
I remember hearing a no doubt ghoti-y tale that the observation was
due to G. B. Shaw.  A little searching indicates that it is a
widespread canard (esp. good on toast).  See e.g.
(In this piece, Jim Scobbie doesn't attempt to date the "ghoti" fish-tale.)


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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