ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Feb 6 19:58:33 UTC 2013

Intriguing finds, Bill. The 1928 cite below seems to contain an
instance of "choked up" with the requisite sense.  The newspaper
article described a baseball game between the United State Banks and
the Brown Park Merchants in which the Banks won by a score of 16 to 0.
There were playing for the American League Amateur Pennant.

Cite: 1928 September 4, Omaha World Herald, Section: Sports, Union
State Nine Upsets Browns by 16-to-0 Count, Quote Page 15, Column 4,
Omaha, Nebraska. (GenealogyBank)

[Begin excerpt]
A misplay by Marvin Olson enabled the Banks to tally three times in
the first frame and paved the way for a victory. The Browns' infield
choked up in the second and third innings and the Banks made 10 more
[End excerpt]

NewspaperArchive has some 1937 instances of "choked up in the clutch",
so perhaps "choked up" by itself is plausible.


On Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 1:58 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: choke (UNCLASSIFIED)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Interesting that "choke artist" is as old as 1941 (or older), which I wouldn't have guessed.  The most famous fictional choking act was that of Casey at the bat in the eponymous Thayer poem (1888), but the word "choke" doesn't appear in the poem.
> LH
> On Feb 6, 2013, at 12:58 PM, Mullins, Bill AMRDEC wrote:
>> Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
>> Caveats: NONE
>> The OED entries for choke don't seem to included the figurative sense
>> "to fail when the stakes are high", as is often used in sports.
>> _London [UK] Daily Mail 12/9/1905 p. 8 col 3
>> "Moifaa was pulling double alongside Killerby entering the straight, but
>> he choked under pressure up the long, severe hill, and stopped to
>> nothing at last."
>> [This article is about horse racing, and the cite may literally mean
>> choking, as in not having enough breath.]
>> _NY Post_ 5/18/1932 p 16 col 8
>> "The colorful language of the clubhouse describes a player's inability
>> to come through in the tight spots as "choking in the clutch." Lloyd and
>> Paul seldom have "choked"-and they've been in lots of "clutches." "
>> _NY Post_ 7/20/1936 p 17 col 8
>> "It might have been about 10--4 in favor of the other side-if Watty
>> Clark or his support had choked in the clutch at any time."
>> _Seattle Daily Times_ 3/26/1937 p 13 col 1
>> "CHOKES IN THE CLUTCH - Not so good in a pinch."
>> _Springfield [MA] Republican_ 7/2/1938 p 10 col 8
>> "Jacobs had choked in the clutch."
>> _Syracuse Herald Journal_ 7/14/1941 p 15 col 3
>> "Jim Newton has taken the title of "choke artist" away from Jimmy
>> Scott."
>> _Abilene [TX] Reporter News_ 3/25/1946 p 6 col 7
>> "When I was a sports reporter I guess I must have written a thousand
>> stories describing how a certain hitter choked up under pressure, or how
>> a golfer froze upon a short putt, or how a tennis player couldn't take
>> it when the pressure was on."
>> _Boston Herald_ 7/25/1956 p16 col 4
>> "As we know, Ted's defiance was a specific one, aimed at a few
>> journalists most of whom have specialized in the past 15 years in
>> calling him everything from a primadonna to a "choke artist." "
>> Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
>> Caveats: NONE
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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