Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue Sep 25 18:25:41 UTC 2007

On 9/25/07, Charles Doyle <cdoyle at uga.edu> wrote:
> Google Books seems to show "take a whiz" from 1925--Benjamin De Casseres,
> _Mirrors of New York_:  "There was a cellar, however, three blocks up the avenue
> where a gentleman could take a whiz at the wheel. No, we couldn't do anything
> with the wheel today."  Although it's attractive to envision a small waterwheel
> installed inside a urinal for the recreation of well hydrated whizzers, I assume the
> reference is to some other activity.

Presumably along the lines of "take a whirl/whack/crack/stab at".

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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