[Ads-l] Origin of "The Big Apple" -- Barry Popik's Extraordinary Research On This Topic

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at MST.EDU
Fri Aug 5 15:42:01 UTC 2016

This is just a reminder that Barry Popik's extraordinary research on 
the origin of the "The Big Apple" (NYC) is often overlooked. The 
Wikipedia item does mention him but overlooks the book we co-authored:
_Origin of New York City's Nickname "the Big Apple"_ (by Gerald Leonard Cohen
and Barry A. Popik) 2nd, revised and expanded edition, Frankfurt am Main: Peter
Lang Verlag, 2011.

Wikipedia mentions the first edition (1991), which I alone authored, but this turns out
to be only a preliminary study, and the second (2011) edition with Popik as co-author
is much improved. All the major improvements in that second edition came from Popik,
so if only one edition is to be cited, it should be the second one.

Popik would be deeply appreciative if just a note of acknowledgment is made
when the results of his research are publicized; it's a reasonable request.
Today, for example, he sent me a message with the title "Richard Lederer Cites
Our Work, But Not Our Names." I reprint Lederer's item below my signoff.  

With best wishes all around.

Gerald Cohen, Ph.D. 
(Research specialty: Etymology) 
Department of Arts, Languages, & Philosophy
Missouri University of Science & Technology
Rolla, MO 65409

[Item by Richard Lederer; the discoveries to which he refers were made by Barry Popik]: 

U-T Sports Headlines Often Feature Intriguing PhrasesPublished July 23, 2016 | By Richard LedererMark Zeigler’s Aztecs basketball story in a late-March Union-Tribune was headlined SDSU TAKES CARE OF GEORGIA TECH, HEADS TO NIT SEMIS IN BIG APPLE. The first paragraph read, “There might be some bruises on the apple, but it’s an apple. A Big Apple,” which raises the question (not “begs the question”!) whence cometh the phrase Big Apple, referring to New York?
The first print citation shows up in 1921 in a regular racing column in the New York Morning Telegraph by one John FitzGerald, in which he used “big apple” to refer to the race tracks of New York. By 1924, FitzGerald had broadened the phrase to identify the city itself: “The Big Apple, the dream of every lad that ever threw a leg over a thoroughbred, There’s only one Big Apple. That’s New York.” The columnist wrote that he had first heard the phrase from two black stable hands in New Orleans in 1920, for whom “the big apple” was their name for the New York racetracks – the big time, “the goal of every aspiring jockey and trainer.”
Some linguists theorize that the debt for creating the nickname the “Big Apple” has been paid back to the two stable hands because, in the late 1960s, the city of New Orleans capitalized on the “Big Apple” success and started calling itself “The Big Easy.”
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list