[Ads-l] gaslighting

Ben Yagoda byagoda at UDEL.EDU
Fri Dec 24 13:52:25 UTC 2021

Thanks, Garson. I put a version of the post on my website, no paywall or registration required: https://benyagoda.com/2017/01/20/how-old-is-gaslighting/ <https://benyagoda.com/2017/01/20/how-old-is-gaslighting/>

I’ve also been alerted to an earlier (1948) use of “the ‘Gaslight’ treatment” from the Miami News, vis newspapers.com <http://newspapers.com/>:

GASLIGHT--Divorce petitions filed in Dade circuit court in recent weeks reveal an influence traceable to the current run of movies dealing with psychiatric plots, especially those in which the husband tries to convince the wife she is crazy. Several complainants have charged husbands with actions designed to produce fear of mental unbalance, and one suit, filed the other day, claimed the husband "gave her the Gaslight treatment.”


> Date:    Thu, 23 Dec 2021 08:00:58 -0500
> From:    ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM <mailto:adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>>
> Subject: Re: Verb form of gaslight used in script of video series "Being the Ricardos" circa 1953
> Ben Yagoda wrote a pertinent article titled "How Old Is
> ‘Gaslighting’?" at "The Chronicle of Higher Education" website back on
> January 12, 2017.
> Restricted access requiring registration / paywall
> https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2017/01/12/how-old-is-gaslight/&source=gmail-imap&ust=1640926838000000&usg=AOvVaw1hKtNSERsuAYId3yAg8410 <https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2017/01/12/how-old-is-gaslight/&source=gmail-imap&ust=1640926838000000&usg=AOvVaw1hKtNSERsuAYId3yAg8410>
> Snapshot of article
> https://www.google.com/url?q=https://web.archive.org/web/20170114192601/https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2017/01/12/how-old-is-gaslight/&source=gmail-imap&ust=1640926838000000&usg=AOvVaw2af0lxx1oQP-UpTUpigX0- <https://www.google.com/url?q=https://web.archive.org/web/20170114192601/https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2017/01/12/how-old-is-gaslight/&source=gmail-imap&ust=1640926838000000&usg=AOvVaw2af0lxx1oQP-UpTUpigX0->
> [Begin excerpt]
> The estimable Zimmer wasn’t done. Consulting with Josh Chetwynd,
> author of Totally Scripted: Idioms, Words, and Quotes From Hollywood
> to Broadway That Have Changed the English Language, which has an entry
> on gaslight, he located and watched a 1952 episode of The Burns and
> Allen Show called “Grace Buying Boat for George.” (It’s a tough job
> but somebody’s got to do it.) Zimmer wrote, “At 16:20 in the YouTube
> video, Harry (Fred Clark) says to Gracie, ‘Give him the gaslight
> treatment!’ and then explains what that means. A bit later you hear
> George say, ‘So they sold Gracie on the gaslight bit.’”
> Still no verb, you’ll notice.
> [End excerpt]
> Hence, Sorkin's version of Lucille Ball would have been fine if she
> had said "Don't give me the gaslight treatment."
> Garson

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

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