[Ads-l] "sea-pouse": [antedating OED2, and] a word for DARE?

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Wed Jun 1 00:02:49 UTC 2016

[Sorry, the previous letter mailed itself.]

And searching the OED for "sea-poose", there are two quotations using that spelling, under "sea-Purse, n.", sense 4: "U.S. Atlantic coast.  [ < the Algonquian language Munsee (Delaware) sepoûs, brook, small river: see Mathews Dict. Americanisms (1951).] A swirl of the undertow or a double undertow formed by two waves meeting at an angle, making a small whirlpool on the surface of the water, dangerous to bathers."

Earliest quotation 1842, so George's is a neat antedating.


      From: Douglas G. Wilson <douglas at NB.NET>
 Sent: Monday, May 30, 2016 10:44 PM
 Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "sea-pouse": a word for DARE?
On 5/30/2016 9:50 PM, George Thompson wrote:
> *Extract of a letter from East-Hampton, (Long-Island) June 29,
> 1788*.
>              It is well known to many that where a sandy shore is 
> washed by
> the ocean, the bottom is subject to continual variation, which 
> produce, or
> are produced, by a kind of eddy to the waves, by which any buoyant
> substance will be carried, sometimes with great rapidity, against the
> swell, back to the sea.
>              The South side of Long-Island, especially at the East 
> end, is
> remarkable for these reverting currents, which the natives call 
> *sea-pouse*,
> and cautiously avoid.
>              Daily Advertiser (New York, N. Y.), July 10, 1787, p. 2, 
> col. 1
> I don't have the later vols. of DARE; it's not in the OED.

It's in DARE (vol. 4, p. 830): "seapoose" (NY, NJ) and a few spelling 
variants, several citations. Algonquian etymology. Meanings: (1) inlet 
or channel connected to the sea (from 1650); (2) whirlpool, undertow 
(from 1842). The above seems to me to be sense 2, an antedating.

-- Doug Wilson

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

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

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