more on early "jeeps"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 8 12:49:53 UTC 2011

HDAS I makes the history of _goldbrick_ clear to all.

("To sell somebody a gold brick" meant to sell them a bill of goods,
pull the wool over their eyes, etc.  Hence a "goldbricker" was a
fourflusher or - in the army - a malingerer; hence, a loafer; hence
"goldbrick"; hence the verb.)


On Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 2:15 AM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: more on early "jeeps"
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> On Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 12:48 AM, Douglas G. Wilson <douglas at> wrote:
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>> Sender: Â  Â  Â  American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster: Â  Â  Â  "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
>> Subject: Â  Â  Â Re: more on early "jeeps"
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>> On 12/7/2011 7:53 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>>> .... Since I've been able to understand English, I've known _yardbird_
>>> as a BE word for "chicken" - cf. Charlie "Yardbird" Parker, renowned
>>> as a connoisseur of fried chicken - and, since I've been able to read,
>>> I've known it as G.I. jargon, like _goldbrick_, used During The War,
>>> but extinct by the time of my own career in the military ....
>> (1) Was the military yardbird basically likened to a domestic bird
>> (policing the camp for butts etc. like a pecking chicken), or what?
> Could be. I have no idea, though I'm well-acquainted with "post
> police." ["Start bendin' 'n' pickin'! I don' wanna to see nothin' but
> assholes 'n' elbows!"] I'm also confused by "goldbrick." From
> somewhere or other, I have the impression that selling gold-plated or
> merely gold-painted lead or clay bricks to suckers was once a
> lucrative confidence game, but that's all. I don't see the connection.
> Professional NCO's aren't likely to overestimate the value of a
> recruit.
>> (2) Cf. Japanese "niwatori" = "chicken", < "niwa" (= "yard"/"garden") +
>> "tori" (= "bird").
> Interesting!
>> (3) Among those who call a chicken a "yardbird", would other (similar)
>> poultry (e.g., guinea-fowl) qualify as "yardbirds" also?
> Only chickens. Black people in the South, including my grandparents,
> ordinarily kept guinea-hens [sic] in addition to chickens, but, IME,
> they were referred to only by that term.
> My grandfather would always get a turkey-cock for Thanksgiving. It
> looked like the ones that, nowadays, you see only in pictures: a big -
> well, maybe not so big; I was far smaller then than I am, now - fat
> fowl with the varicolored plumage of a wild turkey, not like today's
> white ones that are said to be literally too dumb to come in out of
> the rain. Instead, they'll stare up at the clouds and breathe in
> raindrops till they drown. So, no free range for them!
> -Wilson
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