Mr. Gadjet?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Sep 24 17:34:05 UTC 2007

The context for "gadgetting" is the construction of the hut in which
the exploration party was to spend the winter on Antarctica.  The
immediately preceding sentence is "To add to our troubles, the boards
were all badly warped from being continually wet with sea-water on the voyage."


At 9/21/2007 11:47 AM, I wrote:
>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 -

The American Dialect Society -

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