[Ads-l] Codswallop antedated (?) 1958 (previously cited, 1959)

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Wed Aug 7 09:24:17 UTC 2019

Though "codswallop" is so far attested in print merely from 1958 [1], collocations of "cod" and "wallop" are earlier.
The 1958 story (below) set in Bournemouth (seaport, where cod used to be more common) conveys four fish names (and maybe cod [-head] as a fool). As many have suggested, we may set aside the proposed etymology with bottler Mr. Codd, even though "wallop" OED n. 4c can  be antedated to times before his 1870s patents.
Another 1958 usage was noted at Phrase Finder, in a notebook drawing by Richard Larter (who later moved to Australia) of a welcoming of a dignitary (Queen Elizabeth?) at a small (seaside?) town under a rough banner marked "Welcome to Codswallop." [2]
As noted before:
Cod walloper. A cod-fishing vessel of the New England coast. (e.g. GB, ADS, Dialect Notes 1928 and elsewhere)
And a big fish:
"I 's got a cod- walloper." " How it does pull ! " " It 'll break his pole." (1878 GB)
"morning I hauled up a regular one-er—a great walloping cod—(1899 Trove)
"an old cod-walloper," (1913 GB)

Here's another maybe-relevant passage from 1915, on salty sea language ("Bad language is excusable in a sailor"--quoting a ship newsletter) set in the London fish-market synonymous with rough talk [3]:
"The ease with which a Billingsgate cod-walloper can crumple up a special constable cannot be beaten even by a socialist orator with twice the lung power."

Stephen Goranson

[1] I later found that the antedating had already been made:

[2] The image is available here:


From: American Dialect Society <...> on behalf of Stephen Goranson <...>
Sent: Monday, August 5, 2019 12:20 PM
Subject: [ADS-L] Codswallop antedated (?) 1958 (previously cited, 1959)

Thursday July 10, 1958, The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, p. 77 col. 1 [Am. Hist. Newsp.]

Maurice Arthur Fish, a Bournemouth, England, butcher, has changed his name to Carrington-Fisher.
Said his wife, "We've been called Fishy, Kipper and Codswallop. For our daughter Sandra's sake we hoped to put a stop to it." Sandra already is being called "Little Sprat."

Stephen Goranson

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

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