milk-walk (1872)

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sat Sep 22 01:31:15 UTC 2007

Do / did milkmen sell milk in the UK or in parts of the US other than
Marshall, TX and Saint Louis, MO, where they merely delivered it?


On 9/21/07, Douglas G. Wilson <douglas at> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
> Subject:      Re: milk-walk (1872)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 11:20 AM 9/21/2007, you wrote:
> >While perusing the Historical NYT for _gadget_, I came across the
> >following quote from March 17, 1872, p 4, in an article titled "The
> >Beggar's Banquet."
> >
> >There they are, all seated in their places, waiting for the master of the
> >feast, and wiling away the time by exchanging cherry but generally slangy
> >salutations.  "Sal, old gal, how goes it?"  "How's the milk-walk, Jerry?"
> >(Milk-walk is the slang for begging district.)  "Music (benevolence of the
> >public) in tune to-day, Cully?"  "What's the price of gold?"
> >"Organ-grinding lively?"  "Earned house and lot to-day?" and a dozen
> >inquiries of similar import were made and responded to in the same strain.
> >
> >The term milk-walk is unfamiliar to me.  I did not find it in the few
> >slang dictionaries at hand.  Is anyone familiar with it or have further
> >evidence?
> In my poor-man's OED under "milk" (10): <<milk-walk, a milkman's
> regular round for the sale of milk>>. Not usually slang AFAIK. There
> are hundreds of examples at Google Books.
> In the above passage I suppose the beggar's daily route is humorously
> likened to that of a milk vendor. The interpretation as "begging
> district" _may_ not be accurate.
> [There is a (different) slang sense: "milk walk" = "female breasts".
> In Cassell's, Partridge, F&H.]
> -- Doug Wilson
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