[Ads-l] Antedating of "Yahtzee"

James Eric Lawson jel at NVENTURE.COM
Fri Feb 24 07:01:40 UTC 2023

1953  Library of Congress *Pamphlets, Serials, Contributions to 
Periodicals* _Catalog of copyright entries, Third Series, Volume 7, Part 
1B, Number 1_ (HathiTrust) 7B(1)   YAHTZIE Yahtzie, everybody’s game; 
any number can play. [Score sheet and rules] Crawfordsville, Ind., 
c1952. Sheet. © Edward C. Gullion (sole owner of Yahtzie); 1Oct52.


Having muddied the water, I guess it's incumbent on me to clear it. 
OED's 1957 Jan 1 date for "yahtzee, n." is substantially correct, 
1jan1957 being the date the application for the _trademark_ YAHTZEE was 
published and the OED definition being "the proprietary name of a game 
(originally ‘the yacht game’) played with dice and a score sheet", where 
"proprietary name" is used in a special sense (see OED Online 
'proprietary name').

However, as historical lexicography, OED might better serve those who 
use it by at least hinting at the history of 'yahtzee' before Lowe's 
trademark was granted. The history may include an early form of the 
game, Tibetan 'ya-tsee', although I've been unable to confirm that. The 
history does undoubtedly include the concurrent and slightly earlier 
term 'yahtzie', the name and rules of which game varied only slightly if 
at all from 'yahtzee'.

Also, Lowe's copyrights of the label and pamphlet ("How to Play 
Yahtzee") used the word 'yahtzee' in 1956 before it was trademarked; 
similarly, Gullion's 1953 copyright of the "score sheet and rules" for 
'yahtzie' used the word in 1953 with only a minor orthographic 
difference before the word was, ahem, seized by Lowe, who seems to have 
had a better grasp of the US system of 'legal' (those are scare quotes) 
proprietorship than Lowe.

Again, OED might better serve by at least mentioning the shady history 
and multiplicity of forms ('yatzie', 'yahtzie', 'yahtzee'), even if the 
Tibetan 'ya-tsee' cannot be substantiated.

On 2/23/23 10:12, James Eric Lawson wrote:
> OED 1957 Jan 1; ADS-L (Reitan) 1956 Apr 3
> 1954  *Calgary Herald* (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) 23 Jul 15/6 
> (newspapers.com) (*advt.*) YATZIE—(pronounced YACHT-SEE) We have found 
> the rules and score sheets for this amusing dice game.
> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/119533033/yahtzee-here-yatzie/
> On 2/21/23 13:58, Peter Reitan wrote:
>> The copyright registration for the game label with the name Yahtzee on 
>> it was filed April 3, 1956.
>> https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112100648531&view=1up&seq=575&q1=yahtzee
>> Sent from Mail<https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=550986> for 
>> Windows
>> From: Shapiro, Fred<mailto:fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
>> Sent: Tuesday, February 21, 2023 1:49 PM
>> Subject: Antedating of "Yahtzee"
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header 
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
>> Subject:      Antedating of "Yahtzee"
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Yahtzee (OED 1957)
>> 1956 Los Angeles Times 15 Apr. 1A-13 (adv't) (Newspapers.com)  
>> Introducing =
>> the most exciting new game of skill and chance in years  YAHTZEE.
>> Fred Shapiro

James Eric Lawson

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

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