Antedating of "Jaywalker"

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Tue Apr 15 14:53:08 UTC 2014

Paul McFedries has written an excellent article antedating the term "jaywalker":

Ben Zimmer has written this up, also excellently, in the Wall Street Journal.

Here is a slight further antedating of "jaywalker" (OED 1917).  Like McFedries' earliest (1906) citation, it is in a somewhat different meaning (person walking unsafely on sidewalk) from the now-usual meaning (person unsafely crossing a street).

1905 _Kansas City Star_ 20 Oct. 10 (America's Historical Newspapers)  Now the "Jay Walker."  _To the Star:_  As a great improvement has been recently made in regard to drivers of vehicles keeping to the right and now only occasionally a "jay driver" is apprehended, would it not be of great advantage and convenience as well if pedestrians would make it a rule to keep to the right as much as possible?

Fred Shapiro

The American Dialect Society -

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