ADS-L Digest - 30 Jan 2006 to 31 Jan 2006 (#2006-32)

Geoff Nathan geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU
Wed Feb 1 13:32:36 UTC 2006

At 12:00 AM 2/1/2006, you wrote:
>I don't think these are synonymous. "Tin hat" suggests mock or play
>soldiers, but "tinfoil hat" I think usually is meant to allude to paranoia
>(a reference to the foil's capacity to ward off endangering rays of some
>sort). The contexts should either support or refute this view.

Wikipedia has what I believe to be a pretty good entry on 'tinfoil
hat' (  While I don't have
time to do the necessary research, my impression is that it has
developed a connotation of 'those who believe in wild conspiracy
theories (originally involving mind control rays)', and now has
broadened to any right-wing conspiracy theory as referred to by
someone not in that political camp. (I'm fairly sure I've heard it on
West Wing, for example..).  My guess is that is what Barry found is
just that term coupled with 'brigade'.

Geoffrey S. Nathan <geoffnathan at>
Faculty Liaison, Computing and Information Technology,
         and Associate Professor of English
Linguistics Program                     Phone Numbers
Department of English                   Computing and Information
Technology:  (313) 577-1259
Wayne State University                  Linguistics (English):  (313) 577-8621
Detroit, MI, 48202                      C&IT Fax: (313) 577-1338

The American Dialect Society -

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