Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving), 1961

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu May 5 19:32:19 UTC 2011

Great work, Bonnie. Thanks for sharing the intriguing additional
details for the change in meaning of the term Black Friday.

On Wed, May 4, 2011 at 8:36 PM, Bonnie Taylor-Blake
<b.taylorblake at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Bonnie Taylor-Blake <b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving), 1961
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I find the following particularly helpful because it not only
> represents the (so far) earliest sighting of "Black Friday" used with
> respect to the day after Thanksgiving, but it also underscores that
> "Black Friday" was commonly used by Philadelphia police officers and
> not merchants.  Moreover, it reveals a concerted, though ultimately
> failed effort by downtown merchants and a Philadelphia city official
> to change the name of that post-Thanksgiving shopping day because of
> consumers' association of "black" with misfortune and disaster.
> This reinforces the suspicion that sometime well after 1961 some group
> launched an effort to rehabilitate "Black Friday," an expression that
> just wouldn't go away, by claiming an association with black ink
> (i.e., signifying profitability).  It's this upbeat (though false)
> black-ink explanation that has stuck.
> -- Bonnie

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