[Ads-l] "blimp" antedating

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jun 8 22:34:40 UTC 2019

The OED has:

1. A small non-rigid airship. Also: a large tethered balloon, as a barrage balloon.
2a. colloquial and depreciative (orig. and chiefly North American). An excessively fat person.


> On 8 Jun 2019, at 15:31, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> This gives me the chance to observe that the celebrated British balloon
> that depicts Donald Trump as a squalling infant is generally described on
> cable news as "the Trump baby blimp."
> Despite its tubbiness, it is not a "blimp" at all.  It is a "captive
> balloon" or "aerostat."
> JL
> On Fri, Jun 7, 2019 at 11:32 AM Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
>> My latest Wall Street Journal column is on the history of the word "blimp."
>> https://www.wsj.com/articles/blimp-a-world-war-i-term-thats-taken-on-a-weighted-meaning-11559918882
>> The OED and various other references give as their earliest citation of
>> "blimp" a letter written by Royal Naval Air Service pilot Harold Rosher
>> dated Feb. 11, 1916, collected posthumously in "With the Flying Squadron"
>> (also titled "In the Royal Naval Air Service"). By searching on the British
>> Newspaper Archive I was able to make a small but important antedating.
>> "This Morning's Gossip," Daily Mirror, Jan. 25, 1916, p. 12, col. 2
>> I was amused to hear what the Air Service call the lighter-than-air
>> machines, i.e., the airships and balloons. They call them "blimps,"
>> "submarine searchers" and "babies." But why "blimps," I wonder.
>> https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000560/19160125/100/0012
>> Even pushing back the earliest print date a few weeks is significant, since
>> the most widely accepted origin story for "blimp" is that it was coined on
>> Dec. 5, 1915 (by Lt. A.D. Cunningham, commanding officer at the
>> Capel-le-Ferne air base, where Rosher encountered the term).
>> You can see a page image of the Daily Mirror item here:
>> https://twitter.com/bgzimmer/status/1137014809814286338

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

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