[Ads-l] Antedating of "Loan Shark"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Mar 1 02:17:41 UTC 2020

Excellent citation, Fred.
Great overview and citations in the Wall Street Journal piece, Ben.
Below is an apparent precursor, "money-loaning sharks", with the
appropriate sense in 1873.

Date: November 27, 1873
Newspaper: The Blue Rapids Times
Newspaper Location: Blue Rapids, Kansas
Article: Work for the Legislature
Quote Page 1, Column 3
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
The manufacturing and productive interests are paralyzed for the want
of money. The insatiable banks and two per cent. money-loaning sharks
are grasping it all. Our legislature must work for the interests of
the producer. The capitalist is able to take care of himself.
[End excerpt]


On Sat, Feb 29, 2020 at 8:53 PM Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sat, Feb 29, 2020 at 8:03 PM Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu> wrote:
> > loan shark (OED 1905)
> >
> > 1875 _Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury_ 24 Apr. 12/2
> > (Newspapers.com)  It was not the privileges of Parliament that were
> > involved, but the interests of loan sharks and lobbyers.
> >
> > NOTE: This citation calls into question the statement "Originally U.S." in
> > OED.
> >
> I wrote about "loan shark" last May for the Wall Street Journal:
> https://www.wsj.com/articles/loan-shark-a-name-borrowed-to-deliver-a-financial-bite-11558643116
> Researching the column, I clipped the 1875 item that Fred cites:
> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31746544/loan-shark/
> However, it's not at all clear that this usage relates to the meaning that
> developed in American slang, referring to someone who charges excessive
> interest on a loan. The rest of the sentence reads: "...the interests of
> loan sharks and lobbyers, who are panic-stricken at the disclosures made
> and promised before the Foreign Loans Committee." From this we can assume
> the "loan sharks" were somehow involved with the UK government's Select
> Committee on Loans to Foreign States.
> As I wrote in the WSJ column, the familiar American usage can be dated to
> 1876, based on this:
> ---
> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31746564/loan-shark/
> Topeka (Kans.) Daily Blade, Feb. 22, 1876, p. 2, col. 1
> It is wonderful, bordering on the God like, and quite reaching to the
> sublime, to see the grand confidence of the Kansas farmer, as he walks up
> to the counter of some Loan and Trust Company, with corn at 20 cents per
> bushel, hay at 2 dollars per ton, and butter at 10 cents, and puts another
> mortgage on his farm. Interest 12 per cent, and commission to the smiling
> shark behind the counter at 10 per cent, on the whole sum borrowed.
> Interest compounded four times, each and every year, and attorney fees 10
> per cent. He has a touching confidence, that, long before it is due, he
> will be amply and abundantly able to "lift it." He does not know that the
> Loan shark, looks at his retreating form, as he walks away and smiles to
> himself as he says: "We've got him sure."
> ---
> I'd imagine that if the OED included the 1875 cite in a revised entry, it
> would get the bracketed treatment.
> --bgz
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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