That Damned Elusive Skallewagg

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Jan 7 18:53:23 UTC 2013

At 1/7/2013 01:38 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>*Very* interesting finds, Nat, particularly since
>historians stereotypically associate  the word with Reconstruction.

At least in sense 2, which the OED has from 1862.  For sense 1, "A
disreputable fellow", it has from 1848.

I haven't tried to analyze all of Nathaniel's early instances, but
April 11, 1832, Ithaca Chronicle (scalliwag ticket) seems to be sense
2 while November 18, 1834, Republican Advocate (Batavia, NY) Page 4,
Column 2, "Absconding Debtors" seems to be sense 1.  *Very*
interesting if both arose close together (it seems intuitively
unlikely that sense 2 really is earlier).


The American Dialect Society -

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