[Ads-l] "high five" (was Re: Pswaydo-BE)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 5 14:34:47 UTC 2017

On Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 9:27 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>

> When I was a big baseball fan in the '50s and '60s, the usual
> congratulatory gesture (say, from the next batter for a home run hitter
> when he reached the plate) was a firm handshake and often a back or
> shoulder pat.
> I don't recall noticing any high fives in the 1977 or '78 World Series
> (obviously an unreliable memory, but I can guarantee that I didn't hear the
> term at that time). Suddenly, ca1981, they (and the term) were everywhere.

Baseball's origin story places the first high five at a Dodgers-Astros game
on Oct. 2, 1977, exchanged between two Dodgers, Glenn Burke and Dusty
Baker, after Burke hit a home run.

"History of the High Five" (ESPN The Magazine, Apr. 12, 2013)

"30 for 30 Shorts: The High Five" (ESPN, July 23, 2014)

"High five" doesn't start appearing in print until 1980, though. OED3's
first cite (previously posted here by Bill Mullins) is from the Mar. 25,
1980 Boston Globe, referring to Univ. of Louisville basketball players.
(The ESPN article above also mentions high-fiving at Louisville, beginning
in the 1978-79 season.) Here's a slight antedating:

Cincinnati Enquirer, Mar. 23, 1980, p. C1 (photo caption)
Keeping wary eyes on last-second court action, Louisville's Darrell
Griffith (right) and Wiley Brown exchange the "high five" along the bench.


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

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