"Black Man", 1849

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Sat May 1 21:49:48 UTC 2010

On Sat, May 01, 2010 at 02:37:28PM -0400, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> "Black Man" also appears in Hawthorne's "Main Street":  "Most of them
> have one huge chimney in the centre, with flues so vast that it must
> have been easy for the witches to fly out of them, as they were wont
> to do, when bound on an aerial visit to the Black Man in the forest."
> This 1849 instance antedates the OED2's earliest citation of 1851 for
> singular "black man",   "2. An evil spirit; also, the evil one, the
> devil; also, a spirit or bogey invoked in order to terrify children".
> Its only two earlier citations are:
>      [1591 in Pitcairn Crim. Trials Scotl. (1833) I. 246 {Th}e
> Dewill start vp in {th}e pulpett, lyke ane mekill blak man, with ane
> blak baird stikand out lyke ane gettis baird.] 1658 tr. Bergerac's
> Satyr. Char. xii. 48, I send the Goblins..the nightbats,..the black men.

We now have 1656, 1727, and 1751 singular examples of this

Jesse Sheidlower

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

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