Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Thu Feb 16 15:11:28 UTC 2006

On Feb 15, 2006, at 9:54 AM, Jon Lighter wrote:

> As a slangy synonym for "homophobe," this has been around since at
> least 1989.  A dozen years ago, according to Net, there were T-
> shirts asking "Friend or Phobe ?"
>   1. Did anyone hear, or better yet use, "phobe" before 1989 ?

memory is an unreliable friend, so i tried searching google groups
for "phobe" from 1981 through 1988, and got nothing relevant (only a
discussion of the meaning of the "-phobe" element in "homophobe",
from my late friend rob bernardo).  jess anderson, a long-time and
prolific poster to soc.motss, searched his own files and found
nothing before 1989.  "phobe" (or "'phobe") on soc.motss seems to go
back only to 1992, but from then on it occurs with some regularity.

i find this surprising, but by now i should be deeply suspicious of
my beliefs about the age, or recency, of particular expressions.


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