[Ads-l] "color crayon" for a child's drawing implement

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Sun Mar 13 15:40:42 UTC 2016

I see that the OED entry for crayon hasn't been tinkered with since it was
first composed; the most recent illustrative quotation was from 1883.

"*1. a   *
 A pointed stick or pencil of coloured chalk or other material, for drawing.

*c*1660    J. Evelyn *Diary* anno 1644 (1955) II. 160   The Prospect was so
tempting, that I could not forbeare to designe it with my Crayon.
1688    R. Holme *Acad. Armory*  iii. 145/2   Crions [are] either White or
Red Chalk cut into long pieces, and made sharp at the end to draw withall.
1719    J. Richardson *Art Crit.* 174   If..what was done in Oyl is
imitated with..Crayons.
1760    *Philos. Trans. 1759* (Royal Soc.) *51* 185   He wrote his
name..with a craion.
1823    J. Badcock *Domest. Amusem.* 142   Lithographic Crayons..may be
used as pencils upon the stone.
1860    J. Ruskin *Mod. Painters* V. Pref. p. vi (*note*)    Chalk débris,
black and white, broken off the crayonswith which Turner had drawn.
It seems that the chalk was colored naturally; at least it seems it offered
limited color choices: "either White or Red Chalk".  So if that sense of
crayon was still in general use in Shreveport, then distinguishing the
child's multi-colored crayon box as "colored crayons" would be useful.


On Sat, Mar 12, 2016 at 12:19 PM, Charles Law <chaslaw at gmail.com> wrote:

> My wife says “color crayon” for the child’s drawing implement that I’ve
> always called simply a “crayon”. She grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana,
> where she was born in the mid-1950s.
> I know that sometimes these combinations have a logical basis, e.g., “ink
> pen” and “stick pin” as used by people who don’t distinguish between the
> vowels in “pen” and “pin”. So I figured, naively, that maybe in southern
> Louisiana “crayon” at some point meant “pencil”, as it does in French,
> making the modifier “color” useful, especially in elementary school
> classrooms. I don’t have a bit of evidence for that, though, and, in fact,
> Shreveport is pretty far removed culturally and linguistically from
> southern Louisiana.
> Does anybody have any insight into the use of “color crayon”?
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

George A. Thompson
The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998..

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

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