[Ads-l] paddy wagon

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jul 28 23:13:13 UTC 2017

In April 2015 Stephen Goranson initiated a discussion thread about
"paddy wagon" by presenting some intriguing citations:


[Begin excerpt]
Though "paddy wagon" came to be associated with police vehicles, some
early uses associate it with wheelbarrows. OED (via Sam Clements) has
1909 for "paddy wagon."
[End excerpt]

I presented some complementary matches for "Paddy's wheelbarrow".

The OED has the following definition for "paddy" and notes that it can
be derogatory.

[Begin excerpt]
paddy, n.2
1. colloq.
 a. Usually in form Paddy. An Irishman. Frequently used as a
derogatory form of address.
1714   in R. Steele Poetical Misc. 201   Poor Paddy swears his whole
Week's Gains away.
[End excerpt]

Here is the OED information for "paddy wagon" which is listed under
"paddy, n.2".

[Begin excerpt]
paddy wagon  n. slang (orig. U.S.) a police van or car.

1909   Chicago Tribune 12 Sept. v. 3/1   Don't it make you think of
the paddy wagon going down the street to pinch a gambling joint?
[End excerpt]


On Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 5:09 PM, Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Even if it's true that it's a reference to Irishmen, they were typically hired as policemen who manned and operated the police wagons, so it's more descriptive than derogatory. Not every race/ethnic reference is a slur.
> ________________________________
> From: Wilson Gray<mailto:hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: ‎7/‎28/‎2017 15:54
> Subject: Re: paddy wagon
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: paddy wagon
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I wonder when Al discovered that it was a slur? I spent the greater portion
> of my life thinking that _paddy-wagon_ < "patty-wagon" < "patrol-wagon,"
> with no reference to race or ethnicity. I've been familiar with _paddy_
> itself since the beginning of time, but only as a synonym of e.g. _fade_
> "white person" (as opposed to _shade_ "black person").
> On Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 4:29 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> The Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC's _Deadline: White House_:
>> "[Now President Trump is] talking about 'paddy wagons' which, by the way,
>> is a *slur*, Mr. President!"
>> JL
>> --
>> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> --
> -Wilson
> -----
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -Mark Twain
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> ------------------------------------------------------------
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