tootsie, 1847

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Sun Apr 19 15:38:15 UTC 2009

In the summer of 1847, a Chinese junk, with a Chinese crew, though owned and captained by an Anglo -- I forget whether American or English -- sailed into NY harbor, and was a tourist attraction for several months.  Among its other benefits, it offered newspaper editors a chance to show off their gift for whimsicality, as for instance a report of a banquet served on board, but not of traditional Chinese grub, since there was no dog or rat.

Another effort to be amusing included an indication that the word "tootsie", meaning "a woman, girl or sweetheart" (OED's sense 2) is nearly 50 years older than the OED's 1895.
        "Mrs. Toot-See," mother of the Chinese Lady.
        N-Y Daily Tribune, August 10, 1847, p. 2, col. 4

OED shows its sense 1, "a child", from 1854.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

The American Dialect Society -

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