[Ads-l] antedating "birdbrain"

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Oct 27 17:16:51 UTC 2020

"Bird-brained" from as early as 1905.

Several examples in the 1910s on HathiTrust.

1905 on Newspapers.com.

"The "piece" writers of a moribund Publication that has a mill stone around its neck, bird-brained individuals who think ownership of a share of stock qualifies and authorizes its owner to write "keerds" to boost himself or his friends, or to "get even" with somebody are getting busy and like the cuttle-fish are endeavoring, to becloud the situation as to local politics and to set up a gigantic straw man and wallop him unmercifully."

News-Journal, Mansfield, Ohio,
24 Jun 1905, Page 4

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2020 9:33:11 AM
Subject: Re: antedating "birdbrain"

---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
Subject:      Re: antedating "birdbrain"

Excellent work, Bill. The popular author Kathleen Norris used "bird
brain" in a short story for "Cosmopolitan" published in 1923.

Date: May 1923
Periodical: Cosmopolitan
Story: The Guests of Honor
Author: Kathleen Norris
Start Page 31, Quote Page 34, Column 1
Database: Google Books


[Begin excerpt]
But she remembered with a faint inward chill that there had been a
rather insipid young man, who looked and danced like a professional
dancer, in close attendance upon the beautiful Mrs. Cruikshank at the
club last week, and that Mr. Cruikshank, being warmed with his meal,
had expressed himself with more honesty than tact about him.

"She's giving that bird-brain a run!" had been his way of putting it,
and Juliana remembered now that there was a hint of real resentment in
his words.
[End excerpt]


On Tue, Oct 27, 2020 at 10:54 AM Bill Mullins <amcombill at hotmail.com> wrote=
> 1925  _New York Times_ Oct 11 X2/1
> "What is the character portrayed by Miss Crews?  A middle-aged actress re=
tired to private life, after years upon the stage.  A bird brain, utterly w=
ithout mental processes, functioning entirely through the medium of the taw=
dry melodramas that have been her life."
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list