"keep shady"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Mar 2 02:59:14 UTC 2007

A slightly earlier cite from Google Books

The Humors of Falconbridge: A Collection of Humorous and Every Day
Scenes - Page 227
by Falconbridge - _1856_ - 872 pages

... let the cat out of the bag, he made up his mind to pocket the
shave and _keep
shady_, not even " letting on to his partner," who in the course of the ...


On 3/1/07, George Thompson <george.thompson at nyu.edu> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
> Subject:      "keep shady"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>         [reaction of "the better sort of colored people" to John Brown's
> insurrection; our reporter] found them disposed to "keep shady" on the
> subject, and it was hard to draw from them any opinion whatever on the
> matter at issue.  This is a characteristic of the negro race, even in
> the most trivial matters.  [a phrenological explanation of this quirk]
>         NY Evening Express, October 19, 1859, p. 1, cols. 4-5
> OED has no applicable sense under "shady"; it has the phrase from 1871,
> (under "simmer", verb, 1d) and 1897 (under "hang", verb, II:20.
> The Express was a vehemently anti-abolitionist newspaper.  All who are
> surprised that one of "the better sort of colored people" would "keep
> shady" when approached by a white man and asked for his opinion on
> Harper's Ferry, please raise your hand.
> I thought so.  Me neither.
> George A. Thompson
> Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
> Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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