Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sun Sep 13 01:10:10 UTC 2009

On Sat, Sep 12, 2009 at 11:04 AM, Jesse Sheidlower <jester at panix.com> wrote:
> On Sat, Sep 12, 2009 at 11:00:43AM -0400, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> > Many years ago when the list was young someone began to refer to erotica as
> > "um, literature."  E.g.: "The word maily shows up in certain sorts of, um,
> > literature"
> > Wilson may have been involved in this.
> I think the original was "um-friend", from "This is my, um,
> friend," and IIRC this was well before Wilson's involvement in
> the list (but I'm too lazy to search right now).

First appearance that I'm aware of was in the May 1996 issue of
_Wired_ (Jargon Watch):

A sexual relationship of dubious standing. "This is Dale, my... um... friend."

--Ben Zimmer

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

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