Mr. Gadjet?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Sep 21 15:47:27 UTC 2007

There is the following, from 1915:


The Home of the Blizzard:  Being the story of the Australasian
Antarctic expedition, 1911 - 1914
Sir Douglas Mawson, D.SC., B.E.
London:  William Heinemann 1915 [undated; Author's Preface Autumn 1914]

Vol. I., Chapter v., p. 88

However, by judicious "gadgetting," as the phrase went, they were got
into place.

not in OED2; antedates OED2 s.v. "bus" n.2 -1921

I don't have a fuller context presently, so I can't say what was got
into place -- it might refer to something aboard ship, or something
on a sled, or ... .


At 9/21/2007 09:55 AM, Stephen Goranson wrote:
>Here is some speculation about the origin of "gadjet, gadget." There
>are various
>proposed origins from French words. (And an apparently-20th-century
>guess tries
>to link the word with M. Gaget whose firm worked on the Statue of Liberty.}
>The earliest reported publication is in 1886, in Spunyarn and Spindrift, A
>Sailor Boy's Log of a Voyage Out and Home in a
>China Tea-clipper [London] xxxi. 378: Then the names of all the other
>things on board a ship! I don't know half of them yet; even the sailors forget
>at times, and if the exact name of anything they want happens to slip from
>their memory, they call it a chicken~fixing, or a gadjet, or a gill-guy, or a
>timmey-noggy, or a wim-womjust pro tem., you know.
>The next earliest, AFAIK, from HDAS 1898 (with a 1897 preface, Cruise of the
>Cachalot: Round the World after Sperm Whales, Frank T. Bullen (some editions
>include a letter from Kipling, an early adopter of the word.) Here's the
>passage from gutenberg (ch.2, p.6f ?):
>The wheel was fixed upon the tiller in such a manner that the whole concern
>travelled backwards and forwards across the deck in the maddest kind of way.
>For the first quarter of an hour, in spite of the September chill, the sweat
>poured off me in streams. And the course--well, if was not steering, it was
>sculling; the old bumboat was wobbling all around like a drunken tailor with
>two left legs. I fairly shook with apprehension lest the mate should come and
>look in the compass. I had been accustomed to hard words if I did not steer
>within half a point each way; but here was a "gadget" that worked me to death,
>the result being a wake like a letter S. Gradually I got the hang of
>the thing,
>becoming easier in my mind on my own account. Even that was not an unmixed
>blessing, for I had now some leisure to listen to the goings-on around the
>deck.       Such brutality I never witnessed before. On board of English ships
>(except men-of-war) there is practically no discipline, which is bad, but this
>sort of thing was maddening.
>Many sources, including 1931 letters to the Times, suggest a British Navy
>A British publication, Colburn's The united service journal and
>naval and military magazine. 1884 PART I. [London: Simpkin and
>Marshall], [1829-
>]. 687pp. 63 vols [Sabin Americana] has an account of an 1880s event. In a
>Typhoon: a true Story of a Close Shave by Lieutenant E. P. Statham,
>R.N On p319 "Gadjet says he can see the land."  p320 "that there
>Gadjet"..."Gadjet, being a quarter-master and a garrulous
> spite of
>old Gadjet's disappointment"
>So we have a British quartermaster, an old man, with a name spelled
>the same as
>in the 1886 British usage, also with reference to China. A quartermaster,
>according to OED is "A petty officer who attends to the steering of the ship,
>the binnacle, signals, stowing of the hold, etc."
>The 1897/8 usage concerns steering a ship with a gadget, perhaps some
>apparatus involved with that steering.
>Mere coincidence or worth further research?
>Stephen Goranson
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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