push comes to shove (1924)

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Feb 26 21:27:28 UTC 2010

[Garson beat me to the punch on Talmage (the same NYPL copy) and Bill
Mullin got even better dates, but I still wanted to send in my full
notes. However, I am prepared to push the Talmage date to 1873.]

There is an *amazing* number of false hits (with pre-1924 alleged dates)
on GB. But there may be a couple others pre-1940.

This one seems accurate:
Central Valley project of California: Hearings (US Congress, Committee
on Flood Control), February 7-9, 1935
> ... that still, when push comes to shove, there is not just a world
> order that we are talking about but an American order that we all have
> to be cognizant about.

But I did get an intriguing one in 1913/4.
The Autobiography of a Happy Woman
p. xi of the Foreword
> What part is woman going to play in this new world? Is it to prepare
> her for this part that the impetus has come, forcing her into new
> arenas, of which even our mothers did not dream? I don't know. I only
> know that *push has come, shoving us out*. Where are we going I don't
> know.

The Publisher's Note starts, "The publishers are pledged not to reveal
the identity of the author of this remarkable book. For reasons which
will be obvious to any reader of the book, the author has made this a
condition of its publication."

I initially ignored another hit, but changed my mind.

Around the Tea-Table; by T. de Witt Talmage. Complete Edition. London:
James Blackwood &Co.
Chapter XXVI
Push and Pull
> The proposed improvement is about to fail when Push comes up behind it
> and gives it a shove, and Pull goes in front and lays into the traces
> ; and, lo ! the enterprise advances, the goal is reached !

There is no copyright date or printed date on the title page. The NYPL
stamped the book in 1923 and the cataloguing mark on the title page says
"[1875?]". Their actual catalog record says "18-?" GB thinks it's 1900.
Wheaton College and Trinity College libraries list the Philadelphia
edition as 1874. Gardner A. Sage library of New Brunswick Theological
Seminary has 1875. Princeton also claims 1875, but for a Philadelphia
edition. Adelphi, Elmira and Rutgers have the "Funk & Wagnalls" edition
that it claims seems to be 1885. Harvard, Columbia, Penn State and URI
think it's 1895. Talmage died in 1902.

It is clear that something happened between 1874 and 1902 and that the
work might have been quite popular. But it did not first appear as a
book! As was popular at the time, the piece "Push and Pull" first
appeared in a periodical.

United Methodist Free Churches' Magazine, August, 1873
Push and Pull; T. de Witt Talmage, D. D.

By the way, note, per previous discussion of "ffoliot" that the capital
F in Free does have a clear appearance of double-f. (p. 439 and title page).


On 2/26/2010 11:14 AM, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
> The latest OED draft entry for "push" has "if/when push comes to
> shove" from 1940. Some earlier cites (the first three are from "The
> Week," by Defender columnist Roscoe Simmons):
> ---
> 1924 _Chicago Defender_ 9 Aug. II1/2 "Defense day," backed by
> President Coolidge, will be used to show you what you could do in a
> pinch and, also, to show Europe what Uncle Sam can do if push comes to
> shove.
> ---
> 1924 _Chicago Defender_ 4 Oct. II1/2 Hope that this matter will blow
> over, but if push comes to shove and you are called, don't make a
> mistake.
> ---
> 1926 _Chicago Defender_ 20 Feb. II1/2 He may even give the register of
> the treasury to some dark American if push comes to shove.
> ---
> 1932 _Chicago Defender_ 23 Jan. 14/2 Indeed, American sailors, like
> all Americans, are tough on ladies, all outside of their "race" first,
> and then their own if push comes to shove, at sea, on land, home or
> abroad.
> ---
> 1935 Arna Bontemps _Black Thunder_ 53 And, let push come to shove, He
> going to fight them down like a flock of pant'ers, He is.
> http://books.google.com/books?id=z3wGAQAAIAAJ
> ---
> 1937 _Atlanta Daily World_ 9 Mar. 2/6 It would be better, when push
> comes to shove, for you to put all of them out and after they are out
> a little while and realize what it is all about, they will be glad to
> come back and be good.
> ---
> And M.J. Devaney sends this one along:
> ---
> 1931 _Baltimore Sun_ 5 Dec. 36 "It's got to be one or two [whites],
> but if push come to shove, they're not going to do no better'n keep
> quiet." (in: "Mob Took Negro from Her Custody," quoting Snow Holden
> from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, regarding the inability of blacks
> to trust whites in the wake of the Matthew Williams lynching in 1931)
> ---
> --Ben Zimmer
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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