[Ads-l] antedating "birdbrain"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Oct 27 08:29:24 EDT 2020


Excellent, as usual!

JL

On Tue, Oct 27, 2020 at 8:18 AM ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Nice work JL. The prominent critic Alexander Woollcott used bird-brain
> as an insult in 1926.
>
> Date: March 21, 1926
> Newspaper: The Pittsburgh Sunday Post
> Newspaper Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
> Article: "Second Thoughts on First Nights"
> Author: Alexander Woollcott
> Section 6, Quote Page 2, Column 8
> Database: Newspapers.com
>
> [Begin excerpt]
> However, I suppose that in 1960, my grandchildren (on whom I have thus
> far made an admittedly inadequate start) will shake with laughter over
> a revival of "Abie's Irish Rose," saying one to another, "What a
> bird-brain grandpa must have been!"
> [End excerpt]
>
> I suspect that the term had a long gestation. Back in 1877 "bird-like
> brain" was used as an insult.
>
> Date: December 10, 1877
> Newspaper: The Huddersfield Daily Chronicle
> Newspaper Location:
> Article: Muncy's Mother-In-Law
> Quote Page 4, Column 5
> Database: Newspapers.com
>
> [Begin excerpt]
> The only accidental speck of originality that ever flashed from his
> bird-like brain was a tirade against mothers-in-law; for he is the
> originator of those tiresome, silly, so-called jokes on the
> mother-in-law topic which have lately been floating through the
> papers, worse than a visitation of locusts and grasshoppers.
> [End excerpt]
>
> Garson
>
> On Mon, Oct 26, 2020 at 2:45 PM Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >
> > OED: 1943
> >
> > 1930 Cleveland Plain Dealer (May 11) Fiction Magazine 2: I’m such an
> utter
> > bird-brain where art of any sort is concerned!
> >
> > JL
> >
> > --
> > "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the
> truth."
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>


-- 
"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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


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