tootsie, 1847

Sun Apr 19 19:34:25 UTC 2009

        Is this really a reference to a woman, girl or sweetheart in the
modern sense?  Consider how The Mikado used English nursery talk to name
its maids of marriageable age, Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing ("pretty thing"), and
Peep-Bo, as well as its adult men, Pooh-Bah and Pish-Tush.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of George Thompson
Sent: Sunday, April 19, 2009 11:38 AM
Subject: tootsie, 1847

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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