Antedatings of "Scandihoovian"

Hugo hugovk at GMAIL.COM
Sun Apr 28 11:54:19 UTC 2013

Scandihoovian (OED 1929, DARE 1901?)

The earliest example I found refers to tobacco, in a description of "Enjoyment in a
Lumber Camp" in Michigan and Wisconsin towards Lake Superior ("by Bill Nye, in Denver
Opinion"), published in The Iola Register (May 23, 1884, Iola, Kan.):
The tobacco used by the pine-choppers of the northern forest is called the Scandihoovian.
I do not know why they call it that unless it is because you can smoke it in Wisconsin
and smell it in Scandihoovia.

The earliest I found referring to a person is in testimony in court reports regarding a
charge of assault with intent to murder. First the The Deseret Evening News (Sep 10,
1889, Salt Lake City, Utah):

[Fred] Laehr came up, and [W.T.] Holland slapped him on the shoulder, "Hello, you d———
scandihoovian;" Laehr objected to be called that name; he had had something to drink;
Holland repeatd his remark, and some words followed;


Holland came in and spoke to me; he then turned to Laehr and said "What are you? a
Skandihoovian or a gentleman?"

It was similarly reported in The Salt Lake Herald (September 11, 1889, Salt Lake City,
Utah) in a report titled "Held For Battery":
Laehr stepped up to Holland, when the latter slapped him on the shoulder, and said:
"Hello, you d—d Scandihoovian." Laehr replied, "What, you call me a Scandihoovian!"
Holland said, "Yes, and Fritz too."

I don't think Holland was calling Laehr by the nickname "Fritz", but rather he's saying
Fritz Riesen (present, and "at whose former place of business the fracas occurred") is
also a Scandihoovian. Both Fred Laehr and Fritz Riesen sound like German names and that
may have added to the insult: using a disparaging nickname for Scandinavians for people
who aren't even Scandinavian.

Links to sources:


The American Dialect Society -

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