[Ads-l] teenager (1913)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 17 17:08:11 UTC 2016

OED2 takes "teenager"/"teen-ager" back to 1941, but the entry is in
dire need of an update. I see a mention in the ADS-L archives of Barry
Popik antedating it to 1937, but I'm not aware of more recent
research. Newspapers.com readily supplies examples going all the way
back to 1913, mostly in the context of church youth groups. Here are a
few early cites:

News Journal (Wilmington, Del.), Sept. 19, 1913, p. 5, col. 4
The 26th annual convention of the New Castle County Sunday-school
Association will be held in Bethesda M.E. Church, Middletown, Del., on
Thursday, October 16, 1913. [...] The work of the "Teen Age" will be
given a prominent place on the program and some of the best practical
workers among "Teen Agers" will be present and speak.

Scranton (Pa.) Republican, Sept. 17, 1914, p. 2, col. 2
Central City 'Teen Agers Progressive.
At the meeting held last night in Elm Park church plans were outlined
for the canvass to be conducted by the central city and South Scranton
'teen agers on September 26.

[Lots more examples from Scranton newspapers about the "'teen agers".]

Warren Record (Warrenton, N.C.), Jan. 22, 1915, p. 1, col. 3
The Duty of the Sunday School to the Orphan, by J. Edward Allen
Next we have the "ungainly youth, the awkward teen-ager, the younger
adolescent," thirteen to sixteen years old, candidate for admission to
the organized class, who is really far better material than he looks.


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

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