[Ads-l] Antedating of "humdinger"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 24 22:38:57 UTC 2015

On Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 6:11 PM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
Stephen Goranson posted this 1896 "humdinger" from Rockford, Illinois:
>> In an ad for new cabs, of five levels of quality, the best
>> being "A humdinger, only... [$]15.00"
>> Paper: Daily Register Gazette, published as The Rockford Daily Register
>> Gazette.; Date: 04-07-1896; Page: 2; col. 7 Location: Rockford, Illinois.
>> [Amer. Hist. News.]
> I found other cites for "humdinger" in Rockford papers in 1896-97, so
> it was active slang there. And I also found "dinger" cites from
> Rockford predating the Apr. 1896 "humdinger":
> ---
> _Daily Register-Gazette_ (Rockford, Ill.), Dec. 26, 1895, p. 3, col. 4
> W.A. Airis -- My trade during the holidays will exceed last year's
> business by several hundred dollars. I am satisfied with the business,
> but if the rain had only left off it would have been a dinger this
> year, for people seemed to have more money, but couldn't get a chance
> to get out and spend it on account of the disagreeable weather.
> ---
> _Daily Register-Gazette_ (Rockford, Ill.), Jan. 14, 1896, p. 7, col. 3
> Ira Chase will handle the Belvidere wheel next season and he says it
> is going to be a "dinger" in every stage of the game.
> ---

Here are two earlier "dinger" cites that suggest a horse-racing origin...

_Daily Register-Gazette_ (Rockford, Ill.), Nov. 24, 1894, p. 5, col. 6
Jim McAllister has a yearling chestnut by Morris M., 2:27 3/4, dam by
Signal, sire of the dam of Chief, 2:27 3/4. This filly is fast at the
test and is bred right. Her owner says that she is just a dinger.
_Daily Register-Gazette_ (Rockford, Ill.), Jan. 5, 1895, p. 3, col. 3
Barney McGrahan is the proud owner of a fine chestnut colt by Morris
M., 2:27 3/4. Barney says it is fast and just a "dinger" and the cafe
business will not be anything to this fellow making money when he gets
him straightened away.


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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list