[Ads-l] next puzzle: 1903 "Hept--to get wise or next."

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Sat Feb 8 11:31:05 UTC 2020

(see below)

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Jesse Sheidlower <jester at PANIX.COM>
Sent: Saturday, February 8, 2020 6:16 AM
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] next puzzle: 1903 "Hept--to get wise or next."

On Sat, Feb 08, 2020 at 10:41:10AM +0000, Stephen Goranson wrote:
> My list of seven early "hep" uses were ones I found. There are others. HDAS  gives (as does OED) 1903 Enquirer (Cincinnati) (May 9) 13: Modern Slang Glossary...Hept--To get wise or next."
> An article, "The Circus Origin of 'Hep'" by Laurence Senelick, Popular Entertainment Studies 1 (2010) 107-110 (and available online by title search) quotes the above and adds "[sic]" after "next." Though I think the "circus origin" fails, it did get me thinking about "next." Was it a typo? The News-Democrat, Paducah KY, admittedly later (May 18), also has "next" in the Glossary.
> Ads in the 1904 Kansas Agitator, Garnett (Chronicling America) agitate (all hepped up (OED sense 2), avant la lettre?) about a grand holiday sale "READ THIS! GET WISE!! GET NEXT!!!"
> My current guess: it's not a typo, but may mean something along the lines that the hept get wise and also are initiated (that is, helped into knowing) about what is upcoming.

It's not a typo. If you look up _next_ in HDAS, you'll find it defined as 'informed; aware; in the know; (hence) sophisticated; WISE', with a first example from George Ade in 1896, and ten quotations before 1910. (It's also in OED and GDoS.) The additional examples you've found are exactly in line with how the word was used in this period.

Jesse Sheidlower

Thanks. I have HDAS at hand.

My main question is not about definition but about etymology of hep. OED spends most of the etymology discussion on a putative connection with a Mr. Hepp.  To me, unpersuasively. For one thing I found no double-p (*hepp) spellings. And the earlier dates also may make circus or barman guesses less likely.

GDoS's hep etymology section includes "[rooted in the 19C SE hep, shrewd, which comes in turn from Hep!, the exhortation of the ploughman or driver urging his horses to ‘Get up!’ and get lively; ..." That baffles me, as I have not found Hep as shrewd in 19C Standard English.

If new etymology suggestions are unwelcome here, let me know.

Stephen Goranson

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