[Ads-l] "Pom-poms" - "Pom-pons" (was "to hell in a hand-barrow" interdating 1831)

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 18 21:44:45 UTC 2020

An article about a flower show in Chicago in 1900 includes a photograph 
of "Pom-poms", which it says is a style of chrysanthemum.

The text of the accompanying article also refers to it as the "pompon" 


------ Original Message ------
From: "Peter Reitan" <pjreitan at hotmail.com>
To: "American Dialect Society" <ADS-L at listserv.uga.edu>
Sent: 11/18/2020 1:37:13 PM
Subject: "Pom-poms" - "Pom-pons" (was "to hell in a hand-barrow" 
interdating 1831)

>I have only ever said or written "pom-pom," although I have heard 
>"pom-pon" frequently throughout my life.
>"Pom-pom" appears to be the original spelling, although "Pom-pon," and 
>a debate over the difference between the appropriate for the cheer 
>accessory as opposed to the automatic gun, dates to at least 1924.
>[Excerpt] It's Pom-Pons - Not Pom-Poms. In the Review two weeks ago it 
>was announced that pom-poms would be used at the football game.  In the 
>last Review it was stated that pom pons had been sold and used at the 
>football game.
>Since a pom-pon is one of the blue and white play-things which were 
>displayed at the game, and since a pom-pom is an automatic gun 
>according to the authorities, Washburn might have come out in the lead 
>if, as was first announced, pom-poms had been distributed instead of 
>the colorful pompons.
>[End Excerpt]
>The Washburn Review (Topeka, Kansas), November 5, 1924, page 4. 
>As definitive as that writer appears to have been, "pom-poms" (with 
>that spelling) had been used at football games since at least as early 
>as the 1919 Cal-USC game (Los Angeles Times, November 9, 1919, page 8), 
>had been sold at fairs since 1911 (The Evening Herald (Fall River, 
>Massachusetts), September 21, 1911, page 3), and similar "paper 
>pom-poms" had been worn on a helmet in a mock sword-fighting sport 
>discussed in 1897 (knock the paper pom-pom off the helmet) (Kansas City 
>Star, May 23, 1897, page 9).
>The paper "pom-poms" used at fairs and football games appears to have 
>been named from a flower, perhaps similar to a carnation, called a 
>"pom-pom" and a decorative item, like a tassle, on clothing or hats, 
>sometimes a feather pom-pom, sometimes a fur pom-pom. There are 
>instructions on how to make a silk "pom-pom" as early as 1890 
>(Newcastle Weekly Courant (Newcastle upon Tyne, England), April 19, 
>1890, page 3).
>The automatic guns referred to as pom-poms are first mentioned in 1899, 
>with reference to the South African wars.  So name for the decorative 
>items, of which the later paper pom-poms on sticks are an example, is 
>older than the name of the gun, which presumably has a separate, 
>unrelated etymology.

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