"screw the pooch" (UNCLASSIFIED)

Mullins, Bill CIV (US) william.d.mullins18.civ at MAIL.MIL
Tue Dec 17 22:52:01 UTC 2013

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

If I search Google Books for "Screw the pooch", delimited by date from
1900 to 1970, I get one hit for "Canticle for Liebowitz" (in a "no
preview" version), dated supposedly 1959.

If I search the Amazon version of the book for "pooch", I get nothing.

This isn't helpful to Ben's request, but it is odd . . . .

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On
> Behalf Of Ben Zimmer
> Sent: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 3:46 PM
> Subject: "screw the pooch"
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> --------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      "screw the pooch"
> --------
> Wiktionary says this of "screw the pooch":
> ===
> https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/screw_the_pooch
> The term was first documented in the early "Mercury" days of the US
> space program. It came there from a Yale graduate named John Rawlings
> who helped design the astronauts' space suits. The phrase is actually
> bastardization of an earlier, more vulgar and direct term which was
> slang for doing something very much the wrong way, as in "you are
> fucking the dog!" At Yale a friend of Rawlings', the radio DJ Jack May
> (a.k.a. "Candied Yam Jackson") amended this term to "screwing the
> pooch" which was simultaneously less vulgar and more pleasing to the
> ear.
> ===
> The unsourced part about Rawlings and May was added by an anonymous
> user in 2008:
> 3&oldid=3503284
> Since then, this information has been repeated on numerous websites.
> While it's quite plausible that "screw the pooch" is a euphemization
> "fuck the dog" (Green's Dict of Slang agrees), the rest of this seems
> little dubious. Various sources suggest that there was indeed a Joseph
> L. "Jack" May who DJ'ed "The Candied Yam Jackson Show" on the Yale
> radio station WYBC when he was an undergrad from 1947 to 1951.
> And Rawlings is mentioned alongside May/Jackson in this article about
> the Chi Delta Theta literary society in the Feb. 7, 1950 Yale Daily
> News:
> ===
> http://digital.library.yale.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/yale-
> ydn/id/180905/rec/1
> "The chorus of the gods at dinner," as the motto of Chi Delta Theta
> requires, was sung and played, soothing the more savage breasts, by
> David Chavchavadze, 1950, "Candied Yam" Jackson and Med Bennett, 1950,
> and John Rawlings, 1950.
> ===
> Anyone have firmer evidence about the origins of the phrase?
> --bgz
> --
> Ben Zimmer
> http://benzimmer.com/
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list