Antedating of "Pizzazz"?

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Mon Jun 24 01:24:13 UTC 2013

Evidence in the OED and elsewhere strongly suggests that the word "pizzazz" originated around early 1937 and was promoted by the Harvard Lampoon and Harper's Bazaar.

However, I find the following early citation:

1912 Mansfield (Ohio) News 7 Dec. 10 (Newspaperarchive)  Mansfield people are manifesting a decided interest in the efforts being made to encourage a spread of the Clean Language League of America into all parts of the country, the purpose of this organization being to do away with the use of all slang expressions in connection with conversation.  A meeting in this behalf was held a few days ago in Chicago, the following being one reporter's version of the proceedings. ... According to the dope that was passed out today  by one of the high moguls, Tommy Russell, the main doing tonight was to pick out a publicity gang which will have the job of throwing this line of bull into every state in the uion, being particularly strong on the schools and colleges, and not passing up the educational hangouts for skirts.  The side show of the movement will be to go after the kind of music that you hear in the all-night dumps and the public hog-rassles.  Brother Russell declared, bo, that his crowd had already framed it up with some of the big guys in the music world to put the kibosh on this line of junk, and that it was only a question of time before they would have such pieces as "When I Get You Alone Tonight" completely on the pizzazz.

This is probably a coincidental occurrence of the same spelling, with this 1912 usage having an entirely different meaning, but it might be some kind of earlier stage in the development of the later word.

Fred Shapiro

The American Dialect Society -

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