Whiz & names

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Tue Sep 25 23:43:07 UTC 2007

Those radio stars were "Quiz Kids,"not "Whiz Kids."

  WNCD9, however, dates "whiz kid" to ca1942.  Baseball fans may recall that the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies were nicknamed the "Whiz Kids," a name more sarcastically applied much later to Robert S. MacNamara's advisers and analysts at the Pentagon.

  As for the verb to "whizz," OED shows D H. Lawrence thinking of doing it in a policeman's eye in 1929. Lawrence, FWIW, lived in New Mexico for a couple of years around 1925.  Yet this is far earlier than anything I've encountered in the U.S., leading me to suspect the term is a Briticism.  (OED's "take a whizz" is from 1971.)


Paul <paulzjoh at MTNHOME.COM> wrote:
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Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Paul

Subject: Re: Whiz & names

I'm 72, grew up in Chicago and remember several women of my mother's
generation, nicknamed Whiz. Two of them were small time entertainers
from the '20s. one a dancer and the other was something like the
magician's assistant. Both had great legs at least to my 10 year all
believing eyes.

Wilson Gray wrote:
> I don't recall The Whiz Kids" as a game show. Wasn't it more like a
> "Look-how smart-these-children-are!-Ask-them-any-question-and-they-can-answer-it!-Aren't-they-amazing?!-They-can't-be-stumped!"
> kind of show that went back to radio days? The TV main Kid, Joel
> Kupperman (or "Kupferman" or something similar? Back in those days, I
> wasn't hip to, uh, I didn't know from Jewish names; I didn't even know
> that the legendary Arnold Stang was Jewish.) looked like a buddy of
> mine who was physically white but racially black.
> -Wilson
> On 9/25/07, Laurence Horn wrote:
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>> Sender: American Dialect Society
>> Poster: Laurence Horn
>> Subject: Re: Whiz
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> At 2:25 PM -0400 9/25/07, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>>> On 9/25/07, Charles Doyle 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".
>> And by the late 40s and early 50s, when "the whiz kids" was a
>> standard locution not only for the group that came to Ford after WWII
>> (including Robert F. Macnamara, for the term eventually turned
>> ironic) but for other groups of wunderkinder, including the
>> pennant-winning 1950 Phillies or TV game show contestants, I don't
>> think there was any snickering about any possible micturitional
>> double meaning.
>> LH
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You have to mutate the mutanda

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