[Ads-l] Barry Popik's recent research on "Black Friday" origins

Bonnie Taylor-Blake b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 20 17:04:01 EST 2017

Barry has recently updated his page on the origins of "Black Friday," that
post-Thanksgiving shopping day.


He notes that this is an "entry in progress," so perhaps we'll see further
updates before Friday.

Importantly, Barry has discovered the so-far earliest usage of "Black
Friday" with specific reference to the shopping day after Thanksgiving. It
appeared in the 28 November 1960 issue of *Women’s Wear Daily*, with the
phrase applied specifically to activities in Philadelphia.

Moreover, he's found instances of "[b/B]ig Friday" that predate this
appearance of "Black Friday." (As you may recall, it's said that
Philadelphia merchants and a city representative felt "Black Friday" too
negative and subsequently made a push to rename the day "Big Friday." It
didn't seem to take.)

Something else that Barry notes is that the earliest known usage of "Black
Friday" with reference to the day after Thanksgiving (and not to shopping
on the day after Thanksgiving) appeared in November 1951.  There it's
linked to worker absenteeism after Thanksgiving.

For me making a solid link between the 1951 usage and Philadelphia's
shopping "Black Friday" (ca. 1960) has been difficult, but earlier I
wondered aloud whether "Black Friday" may have sometimes been used to refer
to having to work on any day after a Thursday holiday. See

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

-- Bonnie

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

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