Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Feb 16 17:27:36 UTC 2006

Thanks, Arnold.  It didn't take a rocket surgeon to coin "phobe," but as is so often the case, the unbelievably obvious sometimes takes a long time to appear.


"Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Arnold M. Zwicky"
Subject: Re: Phobe

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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