[Ads-l] "The whole schmeer/schmear" [Antedating, 1901, with a hint at 1900]

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue May 25 20:26:47 UTC 2021

Well, there are a lot of Germans in Wisconsin.

Just as some things that originate somewhere else did not become widely 
known or popular until they were published by New York literati and by 
outlets with a national reach, some things that are German may not have 
become well known or popularized until placed into pop-culture by the 
entertainment industries on the coasts, where they became associated 
with Yiddish more than German.

After a quick look, "die ganze Schmier" (the whole schmier) appears in a 
German-American newspaper published in Missouri as early as 1894.  It is 
in a humorous joke about splitting the tab in a bar.  The two characters 
speak to each other in a German/English dialect, spelled phonetically in 
dialect (Swabian, perhaps?).  The opening line uses the English word, 
well, and names the person being addressed as Charlie ("Well, 

One of the characters is going to pay for whole tab.  "Dunnerwetter, 
jetz hab' ich die ganze Schmier am Bei'. Wos hea ich zu zahle, 

[Donnerwetter, now I've got the whole schmier. Whada I gotta pay 


Hermanner-Volksblatt, Hermann, Missouri, August 24, 1894, page 2.

------ Original Message ------
From: "Bonnie Taylor-Blake" <b.taylorblake at gmail.com>
To: ADS-L at listserv.uga.edu
Sent: 5/25/2021 12:20:31 PM
Subject: "The whole schmeer/schmear" [Antedating, 1901, with a hint at 

>---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Bonnie Taylor-Blake <b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM>
>Subject:      "The whole schmeer/schmear" [Antedating, 1901, with a hint at
>               1900]
>OED has for its earliest example for "the whole schmear/schmeer" one from
>Wisconsin, January 1909, which surprises me since I had assumed this was a
>1930s Hollywood or New York thing. (In the 1909 case it's "schmeer.")
>What follows are some earlier appearances.
>-- Bonnie
>Instead of marking our silk waists at $1.25 and $1.50 yd, what they are
>actually worth -- we want a big silk sale and have consequently placed the
>whole "schmeer" on sale at [blank] Fair Price 99c yd If they are not worth
>$1.25 to $1.50 yd don't buy. (From an advertisement in The Halstead
>[Kansas] Independent, 14 March 1901, p. 8. That "[blank]" indicates just a
>blank space -- no doubt a printer was to insert a price or similar there.)
>Jim's rathskeller was crowded and the flowing bowl passed freely. The whole
>schmear was there, and everybody had a large, lovely time. (From "Stein
>Shower a Big Success; Jim Dowdmeier Entertained His Friends Friday Night at
>His Home in Lewisburg," The [Covington] Kentucky Post, 11 June 1904, p. 1.)
>By the way, an article about a baseball game published in April, 1900
>included "thus retiring the whole schmeer-case, as it were," because
>Oakland shortstop Schmeer was involved in the play. It's possible that
>"whole schmeer-case" is a play on "the whole schmeer," but I don't think
>that's solid and I'm unsure what "case" means here. (The Evening Mail
>[Stockton, CA], 16 April 1900, p. 2.)
>Finally, here's one from December, 1909, so later than the OED's example,
>but I was interested in its appearance in Nebraska.
>Dear reader, did you ever see angels in your dreams? Cross-eyed angels with
>green Santa Claus whiskers and horns like a Texas steer? The writer did,
>and the whole schmear was caused by eating an indigestible supper Wednesday
>evening. But it wasn't a blamed bit funny while it lasted. (The Norfolk
>[Nebraska] Press, 24 December 1909, p. 1.)
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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