[Ads-l] "Bullshit" ca1879

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Aug 17 16:12:04 UTC 2017

> On Aug 17, 2017, at 11:36 AM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> On Fri, Aug 29, 2008 at 1:41 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at yahoo.com>
> wrote:
>> 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.

Whence “jackshit”, a standard measure of the absence of knowledge or value?  I don’t have my HDAS on me, so I can’t find the actual etymology, which may of course be O.O.O.   But I like the idea of converting Bullshit Jack into jackshit.  


> 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.
> https://newspaperarchive.com/ben-zimmer-crime-clipping-jul-20-1881-364704/
> 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:
> https://stronglang.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/when-shit-hits-the-newspapers/
> --bgz
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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