jitney 1912 etc.

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Tue Mar 17 02:32:01 UTC 2009

> Might the context(s) be helpful in deciding between Yiddish, Russian,
> French, Japanese, Polish, Irish....?
> Any early citations in newspaperarchive?

Two or three versions of the 1903 "St. Louis slang" item, and a few
items with "gitney"/"jitney" = "nickel" (similar to those given with the
above), 1910-1913.

Of course what comes up today at N'archive may not reliably come up

The following may be of interest:


_Daily News_ [Marshall MI], 23 April 1903: p. '2':

<<Picturesque Additions to the Language Used by Newsboys. / Here is the
St. Louis newsboys' glossary of slang, as revised and edited by
"Noddles" [?: "Noddies"?] Fagan, a famous newsboy now in St. Louis, says
the Post-Dispatch of that city: / Meg, a cent; jitney, a nickel; case
note, a dollar; pubil, $2, finif, $5; mootch, leave, depart; dinge, a
negro; shine, a negro; ruby guy, a farmer; fly guy, a detective; ginnie,
an Italian; punk, a child; punks, children; crape, latest for "dead
one;" doll, a girl; lace curtains, whiskers; steer, guide; hicky, a
crown; crown guy, policeman; high prince, chief of police; swell doll,
pretty girl; spring, go after; stall, stop; Muggs' Landing, Union
station; lay, occupation; flat, settled; troupin', traveling; the goods,
someone who is ideal; all the candy, the same; hand it to him sweet,
tell him nicely; bunch of creams, a sweet girl; ever lovin' doll,
devoted sweetheart; pipe me way, follow my style.>>


I think "pubil" is a new one on me. "Finif" would appear German. "Meg"
and "jitney" of unknown (to me) origin.

One might imagine "jitney" to be related to Italian "gettone" =
"[coin-like] token", but the phonetics might be a stretch.

-- Doug Wilson

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

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