[Ads-l] "Brouhaha" (in English usage; antedating to 1819)

Bonnie Taylor-Blake b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM
Wed Apr 7 17:52:22 UTC 2021

"Brouhaha" is of French origin and, according to the OED, dates to the 15th
century. (Lots of speculation about where the French got it. See, e.g.,
Michael Quinion's analysis: https://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-bro1.htm)

Figuring that "brouhaha" in English usage was pretty old, I was surprised
to see that the OED has its first example Oliver Wendell Holmes's "I enjoy
the brouhaha..of all this quarrelsome menagerie of noise-making machines"
(1890). BTW, Holmes's "brouhaha," in an 1891 edition of _Over the Teacups_,
appears in italics.

Here are some earlier appearances in English texts. Please note that I've
omitted texts that are clearly (or likely) just translations from French
into English, with "brouhaha" as an untranslatable word. I've also found
early examples of "brouhaha" in American French-language newspapers
and, well, French newspapers and journals and books, but these all appear
within completely French texts.

"Brouhaha" seems to have rarely appeared in (clearly) English-language
texts before publication of _Over the Teacups_ (1890), but it's still
possible to find it.

-- Bonnie


(Asterisks indicate italicized text.)

It is, nevertheless, horridly *ennuyant*, that to be able to cope with him,
one must be incessantly toiling *aux galéres de bel esprit*: the
*brouhaha*, too, that has constantly attended his speeches in the house,
has increased his confidence in himself, and consequently heightened the
difficulty of my task: [...] (In Mrs. Ross, _Hesitation; or To Marry, or
Not to Marry?_ [Volume II], London: Strahan & Spottiswoode, for Longman,
Hurse, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1819, pp. 22-23.)

Which *point*, when made (consisting, as it generally does, in some
execrable outrage on the modesty of nature) the performer must eke out and
prolong -- must stand fixed, like a literal pointer, till back-rows, boxes
and galleries have time to make out what is going on, and swell the
insensate *brouhaha* bestowed to requite an artist's martyrdom. (From the
"Theatrical Examiner" column, The Examiner [London], 7 October 1832, p.

The air was a moving echo of dissonant sounds -- shrieks, laughter,
bawling, conversations, the twanging of the guitar, the squalls of
children, the tramps of horses, and rolling of carriages -- not a noise,
even to the clink of spoons and glasses, that is possible for the human
race to make, was wanting. It was a universal *bronhaha* [sic] in which all
wore, however, an air of *fete*. (From "Naples," The Albion [New York, NY],
5 January 1833, p. 4.)

The *brouhaha* of yesterday has produced very little effect at the Bourse.
(From "From our own correspondent," "Paris, Nov. 24.," The Globe &
Traveller [London], 26 November 1840, p. 3.)

In the division of the school which had been previously riotous, the
students were confirmed to their own department; but they contrived, by
burning a hole with a red-hot iron through a wooden partition, to give
circulars to agents, who distributed them throughout the school, and these
circulars having announced the determination of the rioters and called upon
all their fellow-students to obey -- the intended riot having been voted by
a majority in council -- all the lamps were extinguished at the same
moment, and a *brouhaha* was set up which really terrified the officers.
(From "Paris, March 19.," "From a correspondent," The Globe & Traveller
[London] 21 March 1842, p. 2.)

However, in spite of the *brouhaha* of these half-educated, smoke-dried
students (of drinking, fighting, waltzing, and gambling), the arrival of
the royal party created the usual manifestation of hand-enthusiasm ...
(From J.W.D., "Letters on the Bonn Festival," The Musical World [London],
25 September 1845, p. 458.)

When the accumulation of prepared production, already in the market, so far
exceeds all hoped for demand, that works from thirty years ago would have
ensured immediate fortune and immortal fame to their contrivers, are flung
aside by listless repletion, from the entire impossibility to what is
eminently a reading age, of any examination of their claims, or separate of
their small voiced appeal from the multitudinous *brouhaha* of more
clamorous suitors. (From H.C.M., "To Our Readers," The Connoisseur
[London], 1 January 1846, p. 1.)

Out of all this complicated *brouhaha* it is hard to see our way, but the
great thing for this country is not to see our way into it. (The Morning
Post [London], 15 June 1866, column 5, p. 4.)

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

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