[Ads-l] "Just like riding a bike" - 1915

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue May 12 08:00:35 UTC 2020

Thanks for sharing the great article about the evolution of the phrase
"Just like riding a bike", Peter.


On Wed, May 6, 2020 at 3:44 PM Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:
> I recently posted a piece about the history of the expression, "just
> like riding a bike."
> https://esnpc.blogspot.com/2020/05/swim-skate-bike-easy-to-remember.html
> Before "riding a bike" was the standard reference point, they used to
> say "like swimming" or "like skating."
> In 1869, when bicycles were new, the learning curve for riding a bike
> was described as similar for that of learning to skate.
> [Excerpt] It is, in fact, just like skating, very difficult to learn at
> first; and easy enough when once the knack is acquired. [End Excerpt]
> The Royal Cornwall Gazette (Truro, England), April 1, 1869, page 8.
> The earliest examples of "like swimming" to describe the ease of recall
> of some skill appeared in the 1870s, although the notion that they were.
> The earliest example I found of "like riding a bike," used to describe
> the ability to recall some skill, is from 1915, although the sentiment
> that riding a bicycle is easy to recall after a long period of disuse
> was older.
> [Excerpt] I can skate all right.  There used to be an empty lot next to
> where I lived when I was a kid and ice skating’s one of those things you
> never forget, like swimming and riding a bike.  So, while others were
> tuning up, I gave a little exhibition all my own.  All the women, except
> one, were green with envy.[End excerpt]
> “Mollie of the Movies,” Alma Woodward, The Evening World (New York),
> December 17, 1915, page 22.
> "Riding a bike" became predominant in the 1940s or 1950s, with "like
> swimming" and "like skating" appearing regularly.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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