Short take: "smiley face" - OED WOTD

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Mon May 10 02:27:17 UTC 2010

Ron, Arnold, anyone feel free to jump in to educate me at any point:

I'm not going to address the 1968 one about the kid using orange
paper and buttons to make a smiley face on his craft in Norwalk, CT
-- that's still post the Harvey Ball development (and didja notice in
the first 1971 cite -- it said "Ball Smiley Lamp"). [Being in
Worcester, I've got an agenda.]

>[Hopkinsville] Kentucky New Era - Feb 13, 1961
>A Bo-K of Balloons For Your Valentine. By Beth Schmidt. p. 8/4 [GNA page
>5 of 50]
>>  Balloon bouquets can be selected and arranged in a variety of ways.
>  > For instance, on this year's anniversary, you can send your loved one
>>  assorted colors of balloons with "Happy Anniversary" printed on them.
>>  Or for that small child who's celebrating his birthday, how about a
>>  dozen "Smiley Face" balloons, arranged with party decorations to
>>  accompany the bouquet.

This may or may not refer to the yellow and black design, or
something akin to it.

>The last one is a bit ambiguous, it would seem. But the design is
>obviously of a piece.
>Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Magazine Section - Family Weekly, Sep 8, 1957
>[GNA date Sep. 7--other sections confirm that this date is wrong.]
>Junior Treasure Chest. Ed. by Marjorie Barrows.
>Do-It-Youself Carnival. By Jane McHenry. p. 14 [GNA page 42 of 55]
>>  First, make a carnival greeter to prop against a tree or fence. Tape a
>>  paper plate to a mop head for a face, arranging the string strands on
>  > each side for hair. Draw a big smiley face on the plate!

This doesn't seem to refer to anything akin to the yellow and black
design at all. So, would it just be a "generic" use: just a
self-explanatory use of the adjective "smiley" modifying "face."
While the OED def refers to the yellow and black design, the MWC11
def doesn't ("line drawing of a smiling face"), so they could use
that 1957 antedate, couldn't they?

---Amy West

The American Dialect Society -

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