"coony" adj. = sly, cunning, 1910

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Feb 4 15:12:35 UTC 2010

At 2/3/2010 09:44 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>That's my guess, especially now that I see several dozen GB hits for "sly
>old coon."

And many refer not to Homo sapiens but to Procyon lotor, who possibly
was the original of the cunning Yankee.

Including one (and the earliest) GB hit from Lucius Manlius
Sargent!  (_Temperance Tales_, 1856).  Otherwise known (to me) for
the 698-page _Dealings with the dead. By a sexton of the old school_,
in which Sargent reports that one New England minister carefully
recorded his receipt and disposition of [funeral] gloves and rings,
including from whom received, whether at funerals or at weddings or
christenings, the fabric of the gloves and whether man's or woman's,
and to whom he consigned them for sale and how many were returned
unsold" (quoting myself).

There are even a few (one?) GB instances of "sly young coon", title
of a minstrel song from 1850s New York, with the refrain "Du da, du
day day".  But no "sly young coot"" -- only old ones.


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

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