[Ads-l] Possible Further Antedating of "Woke" and "Stay Woke"

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sat Feb 4 18:11:34 UTC 2023

woke (OED 1962), stay woke (OED 1972)

1934 Indianapolis Star 18 Mar. 3/4 (Newspapers.com)  The otherwise good citizens who shirk their voting duty share the responsibility for our bad politics and the grafts, wastes and misgovernment flowing therefrom. If they will wake up and "stay woke," these first causes of the political evils which have messed up our government affairs can be largely removed.

NOTE: The citation above has a different context from the African-American / jazz idiom that I have previously traced back to 1956. It is possible that this 1934 occurrence is an independent or coincidental coinage. Nonetheless, it closely matches the political meaning of the present-day usage.

Fred Shapiro

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list