[Ads-l] "Bullshit" ca1879

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 17 15:36:40 UTC 2017

On Fri, Aug 29, 2008 at 1:41 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at yahoo.com>

> HDAS has a bracketed ref. to one "Bull Dung Billy" back in the Old West.
> Gary L. Roberts, however, author of the documented bio _Doc Holliday: the
> Life and Legend_ (N.Y.: Wiley, 2006), p. 111, cites a John "Bullshit Jack"
> Pierce as a stage-robber near Las Vegas, N.M., around 1880.
> Though buried among paragraph citations, Roberts seems to cite the _Las
> Vegas Daily Optic_, July 21, 1881.

Following up on this long-forgotten thread... the Las Vegas Daily Optic for
1881 is now available on NewspaperArchive, so I checked this out. Roberts
was actually citing the July 20, 1881 issue, but not about "Bullshit Jack,"
unfortunately. Roberts quotes the Optic about how Doc Holliday "crept
through one of the many legal loop-holes that characterized Hoodoo Brown's
judicial dispensation." "Bullshit Jack" (or rather "Bull Shit Jack")
happens to appear in the same paragraph in the Doc Holliday bio, but is
nowhere to be seen in the Optic.


So the hunt continues for early newspaper appearances of "bullshit."
Nothing so far beats Bonnie Taylor-Blake's discovery of "bullshit" from the
(Topeka, Kan.) Daily Commonwealth, Aug. 31, 1886, where it appears as a
possibly intentional typo for "ballast." More here:



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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list