[Ads-l] Skedaddle, skedaddling (incremental antedating to 1858?; 1859)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Mar 16 23:47:06 UTC 2021

Excellent citations Bonnie and JL. Here is a June 1959 citation for
"skedaddled" in a song verse. It seems to have the desired sense.

Date: June 12, 1859
Newspaper: Daily Missouri Republican
Newspaper Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Article: SONG. TUNE--"Hard Times"
Quote Page ??, Column 4
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
The first day of June we got to St. Joe--
Our teams in fine order, because we drove slow;
We washed ourselves up, and our hair we did comb,
Got aboard of the cars, and skedaddled for home.
For it's hard times.
[End excerpt]

I see that Barry Popik clipped the citation for "seen that gang
skedaddle"  in "Bucyrus Weekly Journal" on Sep 10, 1859, but I do not
see an article on his website for "skedaddle".


On Tue, Mar 16, 2021 at 3:23 PM Bonnie Taylor-Blake
<b.taylorblake at gmail.com> wrote:
> "Skedaddle" and variants have come up on the list before, with John Baker
> pushing this back to December, 1859. See his post and follow-ups:
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2016-April/141953.html.
> (BTW, OED still shows as its earliest example one from 1861.)
> 1) Here's something from McGregor, Iowa, in the fall of 1858, which
> suggests that a form of "skedaddle" was at least in place there. I'm not
> sure what "we will make it 'Skeedaddle'" means in the first text, though
> "Skeedaddle" is, according to the second, clearly a nickname for someone
> named Harrington. So, "we will make it 'Skeedaddle'" is obviously some sort
> of wordplay. (I wish "Skeedaddle" here meant "scatter," but does it seem to
> imply "appear"?)
> ------------------------
> We were trout fishing last week and had a "gel--orious" time but our
> columns are too crowded now to do justice to the trip -- Sawyer & Co will
> please hold their poles till our next issue -- "Jim Wing" will be
> immortalised and Wauzeka made classic ground -- if our pen does not fail
> us, we will make it "Skeedaddle". Saywer will please have that picture
> interred. [From "Fishing," The Weekly North Iowa Times (McGregor), 20
> October 1858, p. 2.]
> Not long since it was our good fortune to accompany a few friends on a
> little tour of exploration in Crawford Co., Wisconsin. There were Clark,
> the "Doc." and "Squatter Sovereignty" alias Sawyer, of Prairie du Chien,
> and "Skeedaddle" or Harrington and the writer, of McGregor. [From "A
> Fishing Trip," The Weekly North Iowa Times (McGregor), 27 October 1858, p.
> 2.]
> (The newspaper also mentions "'Skeedaddle,' alias Harrington" in its 16
> February 1859 issue, p. 2).
> ------------------------
> 2) We've touched on an anecdote about "a Hoosier, an awful ugly man," which
> ends in "You'd oughter seen that gang skedaddle." It's this sketch that had
> brought us the earliest appearance of the word, in December, 1859. (John
> Baker's post again:
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2016-April/141953.html.)
> Note, though, that this anecdote seems to have been first published at
> least as early as 1 December 1849 (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania), so a decade
> earlier, though there the last line reads,
> "You oughter'a seen that gang scatter."
> The "scatter" form persists in printings in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana,
> Wisconsin, Vermont, and New York until 1851. (The anecdote also sometimes
> appeared without that final punchline, so no "you ought to have seen that
> gang scatter." This truncated version appeared in an 1857 issue of "Yankee
> Notions" as well, which may be of interest to Peter Reitan.)
> In the summer of 1859, the tale seems to have reemerged, appearing in
> newspapers in California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maine, at least,
> still with the "scatter" punchline in place.
> But the versions printed in The Sioux City [Iowa] Register on 11 August
> 1859 and in The Red Wing [Minnesota] Sentinel two days later have
> substituted "skedaddle" for "scatter." (So, this is the same telling John
> Baker shared with us.)
> The anecdote appears again, however, with "scatter" back in place in Ohio,
> Iowa, and Wisconsin in August and September, until The Bucyrus [Ohio]
> Weekly Journal (10 September 1859) uses "skedaddle" in place of "scatter."
> It's hard to know where this anecdote's "skedaddle" came from, whether its
> placement was original to someone at the Sioux City paper, who simply
> removed "scatter" from the piece he was about to print and substituted
> "skedaddle," or whether it had already appeared elsewhere with "skedaddle"
> for "scatter." Someone, somewhere, sometime, though, made the substitution,
> perhaps for humorous effect. (I mean, "skedaddle" sounds funnier to me than
> "scatter" does. And I doubt the original form featured "skedaddle," with a
> decade's worth of editors changing the word to "scatter" until Sioux City
> slipped up.)
> 3) "Skedaddling" (verb).
> (I include it not only because it's early, but also because that to me it
> gives a sense of barreling in and not so much fleeing or retreating.)
> On Friday last a freight car belonging to a downward bound train on the
> Illinois Central Railroad took fire about eight miles north of the city,
> and came "skedaddling" in all ablaze. It was taken to the water tank and
> subjected to a pour bath, which soon extinguished the flames. [From "An
> Urgent Call," The Daily Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois), 22 September
> 1859, p. 2. The Pantagraph credits "Kankakee Gazette, 15th" for this piece,
> so presumably it appeared just a week before in that Illinois newspaper.]
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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