antedating catawampus (1839)

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Sep 10 16:45:44 UTC 2007

For catawampus connoisseurs:

  1887 Andrew Lang in _Christian Union_ (N.Y.) (Nov. 24) 574: If the battle between the crocodile of Realism and the catawampus of Romance is to be fought out to the bitter end - why, in that Ragnarok, I am on the side of the catawampus.


Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU> wrote:
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Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Stephen Goranson
Subject: antedating catawampus (1839)

United States? Telegraph, (Washington, DC) Thursday, July 23, 1835; pg. 798
(=page 2 of 4 for this issue); Issue [200]; col A
[article begns:] After some very catawampus chawing of the Philadelphia Vade
Necum (a rival sporting paper), the Editor gives a programme of "THE DAY"
Itemized and Condensed

"Is the tale true, think ye?"
"Very true, and not above a month old:--
Here are five justices hands to it!"--Shakespeare

Fashionables leaving, People gathering, Cousind arriving, Horses bolting,
Rockets flying, Tailors suffering....4th of July-ing.

OED has 1840 for catawampous.
According to Anatoly Liberman (July 20, 2007 blog at

"Wampus, a noun with sufficient currency, means ?monster, hobgoblin,? a
circumstance that came to the attention of lexicographers relatively late.
...Apparently, catawampuses were like ?bugs? (a bug is, among other things,
a hobgoblin)."

Stephen Goranson

The American Dialect Society -

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