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A Preliminary Inquiry into the Develop- 
ment of English in the United States 










The aim of this book is best exhibited by describing its origin. 
I am, and have been since early manhood, an editor of news- 
papers, magazines and books, and a critic of the last named. 
These occupations have forced me into a pretty wide familiarity 
with current literature, both periodical and within covers, and 
in particular into a familiarity with the current literature of 
England and America, It was part of my daily work, for a 
good many years, to read the principal English newspapers and 
reviews; it has been part of my work, all the time, to read the 
more important English novels, essays, poetry and criticism. 
An American born and bred, I early noted, as everyone else in 
like case must note, certain salient differences between the Eng- 
lish of England and the English of America as practically 
spoken and written differences in vocabulary, in syntax, in the 
shades and habits of idiom, and even, coming to the common 
speech, in grammar. And I noted too, of course, partly during 
visits to England but more largely by a somewhat wide and 
intimate intercourse with English people in the United States, 
the obvious differences between English and American pronun- 
ciation and intonation. 

Greatly interested in these differences some of them so great 
that they led me to seek exchanges of light with Englishmen 
I looked for some work that would describe and account for 
them with a show of completeness, and perhaps depict the 
process of their origin. I soon found that no such work existed, 
either in England or in America that the whole literature of 
the subject was astonishingly meagre and unsatisfactory. There 
were several dictionaries of Americanisms, true enough, but 
only one of them made any pretension to scientific method, and 
even that one was woefully narrow and incomplete. The one 
more general treatise, the work of a man foreign to both Eng- 


land and America in race and education, was more than 40 
years old, and full of palpable errors. For the rest, there was 
only a fugitive and inconsequential literature an almost use- 
less mass of notes and essays, chiefly by the minor sort of peda- 
gogues, seldom illuminating, save in small details, and often 
incredibly ignorant and inaccurate. On the large and impor- 
tant subject of American pronunciation, for example, I could 
find nothing save a few casual essays. On American spelling, 
with its wide and constantly visible divergences from English 
usages, there was little more. On American grammar there was 
nothing whatever. Worse, an important part of the poor litera- 
ture that I unearthed was devoted to absurd efforts to prove that 
no such thing as an American variety of English existed that 
the differences I constantly encountered in English and that 
my English friends encountered in American were chiefly imag- 
inary, and to be explained away by denying them. 

Still intrigued by the subject, and in despair of getting any 
illumination from such theoretical masters of it, I began a col- 
lection of materials for my own information, and gradually it 
took on a rather formidable bulk. My interest in it being made 
known by various articles in the newspapers and magazines, I 
began also to receive contributions from other persons of the 
same fancy, both English and American, and gradually my col- 
lection fell into a certain order, and I saw the workings of gen- 
eral laws in what, at first, had appeared to be mere chaos. The 
present book then began to take form its preparation a sort 
of recreation from other and far different labor. It is anything 
but an exhaustive treatise upon the subject; it is not even an 
exhaustive examination of the materials. All it pretends to do 
is to articulate some of those materials to get some approach to 
order and coherence into them, and so pave the way for a better 
work by some more competent man. That work calls for the 
equipment of a first-rate philologist, which I am surely not. All 
I have done here is to stake out the field, sometimes borrowing 
suggestions from other inquirers and sometimes, as in the case 
of American grammar, attempting to run the lines myself. 

That it should be regarded as an anti-social act to examine 


and exhibit the constantly growing differences between Eng- 
lish and American, as certain American pedants argue sharply 
this doctrine is quite beyond my understanding. All it indi- 
cates, stripped of sophistry, is a somewhat childish effort to gain 
the approval of Englishmen a belated efflorescence of the co- 
lonial spirit, often commingled with fashionable aspiration. The 
plain fact is that the English themselves are not deceived, nor 
do they grant the approval so ardently sought for. On the con- 
trary, they are keenly aware of the differences between the two 
dialects, and often discuss them, as the following pages show. 
Perhaps one dialect, in the long run, will defeat and absorb the 
other ; if the two nations continue to be partners in great adven- 
tures it may very well happen. But even in that case, some- 
thing may be accomplished by examining the differences which 
exist today. In some ways, as in intonation, English usage is 
plainly better than American. In others, as in spelling, Ameri- 
can usage is as plainly better than English. But in order to 
develop usages that the people of both nations will accept it is 
obviously necessary to study the differences now visible. This 
study thus shows a certain utility. But its chief excuse is its 
human interest, for it prods deeply into national idiosyncrasies 
and ways of mind, and that sort of prodding is always entertain- 
ing. < 

I am thus neither teacher, nor prophet, nor reformer, but 
merely inquirer. The exigencies of my vocation make me almost 
completely-bilingual ; I can write English, as in this clause, quite 
as readily as American, as in this here one. Moreover, I have 
a hand for a compromise dialect which embodies the common 
materials of both, and is thus free from offense on both sides of 
the water as befits the editor of a magazine published in both 
countries. But that compromise dialect is the living speech of 
neither. What I have tried to do here is to make a first sketch 
of the living speech of These States. The work is confessedly 
incomplete, and in places very painfully so, but in such enter- 
prises a man must put an arbitrary term to his labors, lest some 
mischance, after years of diligence, take him from them too sud- 
denly for them to be closed, and his laborious accumulations, as 


Ernest Walker says in his book on English surnames, be 
"doomed to the waste-basket by harassed executors." 

If the opportunity offers in future I shall undoubtedly return 
to the subject. For one thing, I am eager to attempt a more 
scientific examination of the grammar of the American vulgar 
speech, here discussed briefly in Chapter VI. For another thing, 
I hope to make further inquiries into the subject of American 
surnames of non-English origin. Various other fields invite. 
No historical study of American pronunciation exists ; the influ- 
ence of German, Irish-English, Yiddish and other such immi- 
grant dialects upon American has never been investigated; 
there is no adequate treatise on American geographical names. 
Contributions of materials and suggestions for a possible revised 
edition of the present book will reach me if addressed to me in 
care of the publisher at 220 West Forty-second Street, New York. 
I shall also be very grateful for the correction of errors, some 
perhaps typographical but others due to faulty information or 
mistaken judgment. 

In conclusion I borrow a plea in confession and avoidance from 
Ben Jonson's pioneer grammar of English, published in incom- 
plete form after his death. ' ' We have set down, ' ' he said, ' ' that 
that in our judgment agreeth best with reason and good order. 
Which notwithstanding, if it seem to any to be too rough hewed, 
let him plane it out more smoothly, and I shall not only not envy 
it, but in the behalf of my country most heartily thank him for 
so great a benefit ; hoping that I shall be thought sufficiently to 
have done my part if in tolling this bell I may draw others to 
a deeper consideration of the matter; for, touching myself, I 
must needs confess that after much painful churning this only 
would come which here we have devised." 


Baltimore, January 1, 1919. 



1. The Diverging Streams, 1 

2. The Academic Attitude, 4 

3. The View of Writing Men, 12 

4. Foreign Observers, 18 

-5. The Characters of American, 19 
6. The Materials of American, 29 

l \4 


1. In Colonial Days, 36 *^ 

2. Sources of Early Americanisms, 40 

3. New Words of English Material, 44 ^ 

* 4. Changed Meanings, 51 - 

5. Archaic English Words, 54 

6. Colonial Pronunciation, 58 


1. The New Nation, 63 

2. The Language in the Making, 72 v ' 

3. The Expanding Vocabulary, 76 1 

4. Loan- Words, 86 

- 5. Pronunciation, 94 >- - 


1. The Two Vocabularies, 97 ' , 

2. Differences in Usage, 102 

3. Honorifics, 117 

4. Euphemisms and Forbidden Words, 124 


1. International Exchanges, 131 

2. Points of Difference, 138 ^ 

3. Lost Distinctions, 143 

4. Foreign Influences Today, 149 

5. Processes of Word Formation, 159 
6. Pronunciation, 166 



1. Grammarians and Their Ways, 177 

2. Spoken American As It Is, 184 

3. The Verb, 192 

4. The Pronoun, 212 

5. The Adverb, 226 

6. The Noun and Adjective, 229 

7. The Double Negative, 231 

8. Pronunciation, 234 


1. Typical Forms, 242 

2. General Tendencies, 245 

3. The Influence of Webster, 247 t^- 

4. Exchanges, 255 

5. Simplified Spelling, 261 

6. Minor Differences, 264 


1. Surnames, 268 

2. Given Names, 283 

3. Geographical Names, 286 

4. Street Names, 298 


1. Proverb and Platitude, 301 

2. American Slang, 304 c "" 

3. The Future of the Language, 312 




By Way of Introduction 


The Diverging Streams Thomas Jefferson, with his usual 
prevision, saw clearly more than a century ago that the Ameri- 
can people, as they increased in numbers and in the diversity of 
their national interests and racial strains, would make changes 
in their mother tongue, as they had already made changes in the 
political institutions of their inheritance. ("The new circum- 
stances under which we are placed," he wrote to John "Waldo 
from Montieello on August 16, 1813, "call for new words, new 
phrases, and for the transfer of old words to new objects. An 
American dialect will therefore be formed. ' ' 

Nearly a quarter of a century before this, another great Amer- 
ican, and one with an expertness in the matter that the too ver- 
satile Jefferson could not muster, had ventured upon a prophecy 
even more bold and specific. He was Noah Webster, then at the 
beginning of his stormy career as a lexicographer. In his little 
volume of "Dissertations on the English Language," printed in 
1789 and dedicated to "His Excellency, Benjamin Franklin, 
Esq., LL.D., F.R.S., late President of the Commonwealth of 
Pennsylvania," Webster argued that the time for regarding 
English usage and submitting to English authority had already 
passed, and that "a future separation of the American tongue 
from the English" was " necessary and unavoidable." "Nu- 
merous local causes, ' ' he continued, ' ' such as a new country, new 
associations of people, new combinations of ideas in arts and 
sciences, and some intercourse with tribes wholly unknown in 
Europe, will introduce new words into the American tongue. 
These causes will produce, in a course of time, a language in 



North America as different from the future language of Eng- 
land as the modern Dutch, Danish and Swedish are from the 
German, or from one another. ' ' x \ 

Neither Jefferson nor Webster put a term upon his prophecy. 
They may have been thinking, one or both, of a remote era, not 
yet come to dawn, or they may have been thinking, with the 
facile imagination of those days, of a period even earlier than 
our own. In the latter case, they allowed far too little (and 
particularly Webster) for factors that have worked powerfully 
against the influences they saw so clearly in operation about 
them. One of these factors, obviously, has been the vast im- 
provement in communications across the ocean, a change scarcely 
in vision a century ago. It has brought New York relatively 
nearer to London today than it was to Boston, or even to Phila- 
delphia, during Jefferson's presidency, and that greater prox- 
imity has produced a steady interchange of ideas, opinions, news 
and mere gossip. We latter-day Americans know a great deal 
more about the everyday affairs of England than the early Amer- 
icans, for we read more English books, and have more about the 
English in our newspapers, and meet more Englishmen, and go 
to England much oftener. The effects of this ceaseless traffic in 
ideas and impressions, so plainly visible in politics, in ethics and 
aesthetics, and even in the minutae of social intercourse, are also 
to be seen in the language. On the one hand there is a swift 
exchange of new inventions on both sides, so that much of our 
American slang quickly passes to London and the latest Eng- 
lish fashions in pronunciation are almost instantaneously imi- 
tated, at least by a minority, in New York ; and on the other hand 
the English, by so constantly having the floor, force upon us, out 
of their firmer resolution and certitude, a somewhat sneaking 
respect for their own greater conservatism of speech, so that our 
professors of the language, in the overwhelming main, combat 
all signs of differentiation with the utmost diligence, and safe- 
guard the doctrine that the standards of English are the only 
reputable standards of American. 

This doctrine, of course, is not supported by the known laws of 

i Pp. 22-23. 


language, nor has it prevented the large divergences that we 
shall presently examine, but all the same it has worked steadily 
toward a highly artificial formalism, and as steadily against the 
investigation of the actual national speech. Such grammar, so- 
called, as is taught in our schools and colleges, is a grammar 
standing four-legged upon the theorizings and false inferences 
of English Latinists, eager only to break the wild tongue of 
Shakespeare to a rule; and its frank aim is to create in us a 
high respect for a book language which few of us ever actually 
speak and not many of us even learn to write. That language, 
heavily artificial though it may be, undoubtedly has notable 
merits. It shows a sonority and a stateliness that you must go 
to the Latin of the Golden Age to match; its "highly charged 
and heavy-shotted" periods, in Matthew Arnold's phrase, serve 
admirably the obscurantist purposes of American pedagogy and 
of English parliamentary oratory and leader- writing ; it is some- 
thing for the literary artists of both countries to prove their skill 
upon by flouting it. But to the average American, bent upon 
expressing his ideas, not stupendously but merely clearly, it 
must always remain something vague and remote, like Greek 
history or the properties of the parabola, for he never speaks it 
or hears it spoken, and seldom encounters it in his everyday 
reading. If he learns to write it, which is not often, it is with a 
rather depressing sense of its artificiality. He may master it as 
a Korean, bred in the colloquial Onmun, may master the literary 
Korean- Chinese, but he never thinks in it or quite feels it. 

This fact, I daresay, is largely responsible for the notorious 
failure of our schools to turn out students who can put their 
ideas into words with simplicity and intelligibility. What their 
professors try to teach is not their mother-tongue at all, but a dia- 
lect that stands quite outside their common experience, and into 
which they have to translate their thoughts, consciously and 
painfully. Bad writing consists in making the attempt, and fail- 
ing through lack of practise. Good writing consists, as in the 
case of Howells, in deliberately throwing overboard the principles 
so elaborately inculcated, or, as in the case of Lincoln, in stand- 
ing unaware of them. Thus the study of the language he is 


supposed to use, to the average American, takes on a sort of 
bilingual character. On the one hand, he is grounded abominably 
in a grammar and syntax that have always been largely arti- 
ficial, even in the country where they are supposed to prevail, 
and on the other hand he has to pick up the essentials of his ac- 
tual speech as best he may. ' ' Literary English, ' ' says Van Wyck 
Brooks, 2 "with us is a tradition, just as Anglo-Saxon law with us 
is a tradition. They persist, not as the normal expressions of 
a race, . . . but through prestige and precedent and the will and 
habit of a dominating class largely out of touch with a national 
fabric unconsciously taking form out of school." What thus 
goes on out of school does not interest the guardians of our lin- 
guistic morals. No attempt to deduce the principles of Ameri- 
can grammar, or even of American syntax, from the everyday 
speech of decently spoken Americans has ever been made. There 
is no scientific study, general and comprehensive in scope, of the 
American vocabulary, or of the influences lying at the root of 
American word-formation. No American philologist, so far as I 
know, has ever deigned to give the same sober attention to the 
sermo plebeius of his country that he habitually gives to the 
mythical objective case in theoretical English, or to the pro- 
nunciation of Latin, or to the irregular verbs in French. 


The Academic Attitude This neglect of the vulgate by those 
professionally trained to investigate it, and its disdainful dis- 
missal when it is considered at all, are among the strangest phe- 
nomena of American scholarship. In all other countries the 
everyday speech of the people, and even the speech of the il- 
literate, have the constant attention of philologists, and the laws 
of their growth and variation are elaborately studied. In 
France, to name but one agency, there is the Societe des Parlers 
de France, with its diligent inquiries into changing forms; 
moreover, the Academic itself is endlessly concerned with the 

2 America's Coming of Age; New York, 1915, p. 15. See also the preface 
to Every-Day English, by Richard Grant White; Boston, 1881, p. xviii. 


subject, and is at great pains to observe and note every fluctua- 
tion in usage. 3 In Germany, amid many other such, works, there 
are the admirable grammars of the spoken speech by Dr. Otto 
Bremer. In Sweden there are several journals devoled to the 
study of the vulgate, and the government has recently granted a 
subvention of 7500 kronen a year to an organization of scholars 
called the Undersokningen av Svenska Folkmaal, formed to in- 
vestigate it systematically. 4 In Norway there is a widespread 
movement to overthrow the official Dano-Norwegian, and substi- 
tute a national language based upon the speech of the peasants. 5 
In Spain the Academia is constantly at work upon its great 
Diccionario, Ortografia and Gramatica, and revises them at fre- 
quent intervals (the last time in 1914), taking in all new words 
as they appear and all new forms of old ones. And in Latin- 
America, to come nearer to our own case, the native philologists 
have produced a copious literature on the matter closest at hand, 

s The common notion that the Academic combats changes is quite erro- 
neous. In the preface to the first edition of its dictionary (1694) it dis- 
claimed any purpose "to make new words and to reject others at its pleas- 
ure." In the preface to the second edition (1718) it confessed that "ig- 
norance and corruption often introduce manners of writing" and that "con- 
venience establishes them." In the preface to the third edition (1740) 
it admitted that it was "forced to admit changes which the public has 
made." And so on. Says D. M. Robertson, in A History of the French 
Academy (London, 1910): "The Academy repudiates any assumption of 
authority over the language with which the public in its own practise has 
not first clothed it. So much, indeed, does it confine itself to an interpre- 
tation merely of the laws of language that its decisions* are sometimes con- 
trary to its own judgment of what is either desirable or expedient." 

* Cf. Scandinavian Studies and Notes, vol. iv, no. 3, Aug. 1917, p. 258. 

5 This movement won official recognition so long ago as 1885, when the 
Storting passed the first of a series of acts designed to put the two lan- 
guages on equal footing. Four years later, after a campaign going back to 
1874, provision was made for teaching the landsmaal in the schools for the 
training of primary teachers. In 1899 a professorship of the landsmaal was 
established in the University of Christiania. The school boards in the case 
of primary schools, and the pupils in the case of middle and high schools 
are now permitted to choose between the two languages, and the landsmaal 
has been given official status by the State Church. The chief impediment 
to its wider acceptance lies in the fact that it is not, as it stands, a natural 
language, but an artificial amalgamation of peasant dialects. It was de- 
vised in 1848-50 by Ivar Aasen. Vide The Language Question, London 
Times Norwegian Supplement, May 18, 1914. 


and one finds in it very excellent works upon the Portuguese 
dialect of Brazil, and the variations of Spanish in Mexico, the 
Argentine, Chili, Peru, Ecuador, Uraguay and even Honduras 
and Costa Rica." But in the United States the business has at- 
tracted little attention, and less talent. The only existing formal 
treatise upon the subject 7 was written by a Swede trained in 
Germany and is heavy with errors and omissions. And the only 
usable dictionary of Americanisms 8 was written in England, and 
is the work of an expatriated lawyer. Not a single volume by a 
native philologist, familiar with the language by daily contact 
and professionally equipped for the business, is to be found in 
the meagre bibliography. 

I am not forgetting, of course, the early explorations of Noah 
Webster, of which much more anon, nor the labors of our later 
dictionary makers, nor the inquiries of the American Dialect So- 
ciety, 9 nor even the occasional illuminations of such writers as 
Richard Grant White, Thomas S. Lounsbury and Brander Mat- 
thews. But all this preliminary work has left the main field 
almost uncharted. Webster, as we shall see, was far more a 
reformer of the American dialect than a student of it. He in- 
troduced radical changes into its spelling and pronunciation, but 
he showed little understanding of its direction and genius. One 
always sees in him, indeed, the teacher rather than the scientific 
inquirer; the ardor of his desire to expound and instruct was 
only matched by his infinite capacity for observing inaccurately, 
and his profound ignorance of elementary philological princi- 
ples. In the preface to the first edition of his American Dic- 
tionary, published in 1828 the first in which he added the quali- 
fying adjective to the title he argued eloquently for the right 
of Americans to shape their own speech without regard to Eng- 

e A few such works are listed in the bibliography. More of them are men- 
tioned in Americanismos, by Miguel de Toro y Gisbert; Paris, n. d. 

7 Maximilian Schele de Vere : Americanisms : The English of the New 
World; New York, 1872. 

s Richard H. Thornton : An American Glossary. . . ., 2 volb. ; Phila. 
and London, 1912. 

Organized Feb. 19, 1889, with Dr. ,T. J. Child, of Harvard, as its first 


lish precedents, but only a year before this he had told Captain 
Basil Hall 10 that he knew of but fifty genuine Americanisms 
a truly staggering proof of his defective observation. Webster 
was the first American professional scholar, and despite his fre- 
quent engrossment in public concerns and his endless public con- 
troversies, there was always something sequestered and almost 
medieval about him. The American language that he described 
and argued for was seldom the actual tongue of the folks about 
him, but often a sort of Volapiik made up of one part faulty re- 
porting and nine parts academic theorizing. In only one de- 
partment did he exert any lasting influence, and that was in the 
department of orthography. The fact that our spelling is sim- 
pler and usually more logical than the English we chiefly owe to 
him. But it is not to be forgotten that the majority of his in- 
novations, even here, were not adopted, but rejected, nor is it to 
be forgotten that spelling is the least of all the factors that shape 
and condition a language. 

The same caveat lies against the work of the later makers of 
dictionaries ; they have gone ahead of common usage in the mat- 
ter of orthography, but they have hung back in the far more 
important matter of vocabulary, and have neglected the most 
important matter of idiom altogether. The defect in the work of 
the Dialect Society lies in a somewhat similar circumscription 
of activity. Its constitution, adopted in 1889, says that "its 
object is the investigation of the spoken English of the United 
States and Canada, ' ' but that investigation, so far, has got little 
beyond the accumulation of vocabularies of local dialects, such 
as they are. Even in this department its work is very far from 
finished, and the Dialect Dictionary announced years ago has not 
yet appeared. Until its collections are completed and synchro- 
nized, it will be impossible for its members to make any profitable 
inquiry into the general laws underlying the development of 
American, or even to attempt a classification of the materials 
common to the whole speech. The meagreness of the materials 
accumulated in the five slow-moving volumes of Dialect Notes 
shows clearly, indeed, how little the American philologist, is in- 

10 Author of Travels in North America; London, 1829. 


terested in the language that falls upon his ears every hour of 
the day. And in Modern Language Notes that impression is re- 
inforced, for its bulky volumes contain exhaustive studies of all 
the other living languages and dialects, but only an occasional 
essay upon American. 

Now add to this general indifference a persistent and often 
violent effort to oppose any formal differentiation of English and 
American, initiated by English purists but heartily supported by 
various Americans, and you come, perhaps, to some understand- 
ing of the unsatisfactory state of the literature of the subject. 
The pioneer dictionary of Americanisms, published in 1816 by 
John Pickering, a Massachusetts lawyer, 11 was not only criti- 
cized unkindly; it was roundly denounced as something subtly 
impertinent and corrupting, and even Noah Webster took a for- 
midable fling at it. 12 Most of the American philologists of the 
early days Witherspoon, Worcester, Fowler, Cobb and their 
like were uncompromising advocates of conformity, and corn- 
batted every indication of a national independence in speech with 
the utmost vigilance. One of their company, true enough, stood 
out against the rest. He was George Perkins Marsh, and in his 
j "Lectures on the English Language" 13 he argued that "in point 
of naked syntactical accuracy, the English of America is not at 
all inferior to that of England. ' ' But even Marsh expressed the 
hope that Americans would not, ' ' with malice prepense, go about 
to republicanize our orthography and our syntax, our grammars 
and our dictionaries, our nursery hymns (sic) and our Bibles" 
to the point of actual separation. 14 Moreover, he was a philolo- 
gist only by courtesy ; the regularly ordained school-masters were 
all against him. The fear voiced by William C. Fowler, pro- 
fessor of rhetoric at Amherst, that Americans might "break 
loose from the laws of the English language" 15 altogether, was 

11 A Vocabulary or Collection of Words and Phrases which Have Been 
Supposed to be Peculiar to the United States of America; Boston, 1810. 

12 A Letter to the Hon. John Pickering on the Subject of His Vocabu- 
lary; Boston, 1817. 

is 4th ed., New York, 1870, p. 669. 
I* Op. cit. p. 676. 

is The English Language; New York 1850; rev. ed., 1835. This was 
the first American text-book of English for use in colleges. P>efore its 


echoed by the whole fraternity, and so the corrective bastinado 
was laid on. 

It remained, however, for two professors of a later day to 
launch the doctrine that the independent growth of American 
was not only immoral, but a sheer illusion. They were Richard 
Grant White, for long the leading American writer upon lan- 
guage questions, at least in popular esteem, and Thomas S. 
Lounsbury, for thirty-five years professor of the English lan- 
guage and literature in the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale, and 
an indefatigable controversialist. Both men were of the utmost 
industry in research, and both had wide audiences. White's 
1 ' Words and Their Uses, ' ' published in 1872, was a mine of eru- 
dition, and his ' ' Everyday English, ' ' following eight years later, 
was another. True enough, Fitzedward Hall, the Anglo-Indian- 
American philologist, disposed of many of his etymologies and 
otherwise did execution upon him, 16 but in the main his conten- 
tions held water. Lounsbury was also an adept and favorite 
expositor. His attacks upon certain familiar pedantries of the 
grammarians were penetrating and effective, and his two books, 
"The Standard of Usage in English" and "The Standard of 
Pronunciation in English," not to mention his excellent "His- 
tory of the English Language" and his numerous magazine ar- 
ticles, showed a profound knowledge of the early development of 
the language, and an admirable spirit of free inquiry. But 
both of these laborious scholars, when they turned from English 
proper to American English, displayed an unaccountable desire 
to deny its existence altogether, and to the support of that denial 
they brought a critical method that was anything but unpreju- 
diced. White devoted not less than eight long articles in the 
Atlantic Monthly 1T to a review of the fourth edition of John 

publication, according to Fowler himself (rev. ed., p. xi), the language was 
studied only "superficially" and "in the primary schools." He goes on: 
"Afterward, when older, in the academy, during their preparation for col- 
lege, our pupils perhaps despised it, in comparison with the Latin and 
the Greek ; and in the college they do not systematically study the language 
after they come to maturity." 

i In Recent Exemplifications of False Philology; London, 1872. 

IT Americanisms, parts I- VIII, April, May, July, Sept., Nov., 1878; Jan., 
March, May, 1879. 


Russell Bartlett's American Glossary, 18 and when he came to the 
end he had disposed of nine-tenths of Bartlett's specimens and 
called into question the authenticity of at least half of what re- 
mained. And no wonder, for his method was simply that of 
erecting tests so difficult and so arbitrary that only the excep- 
tional word or phrase could pass them, and then only by a sort 
of chance. ' ' To stamp a word or a phrase as an Americanism, ' ' 
he said, "it is necessary to show that (1) it is of so-called 'Amer- 
ican' origin that is, that it first came into use in the United 
States of North America, or that (2) it has been adopted in those 
States from some language other than English, or has been kept 
in use there while it has wholly passed out of use in England." 
Going further, he argued that unless "the simple words in com- 
pound names" were used in America "in a sense different from 
that in which they are used in England" the compound itself 
could not be regarded as an Americanism. The absurdity of all 
this is apparent when it is remembered that one of his rules 
would bar out such obvious Americanisms as the use of sick in 
place of HI, of molasses for treacle, and of fall for autumn, for 
all of these words, while archaic in England, are by no means 
L wholly extinct ; and that another would dispose of that vast cate- 
* gory of compounds which includes such unmistakably character- 
istic Americanisms as joy-ride, rake-off, show-down, up-lift, out- 
house, rubber-neck, chair-warmer, fire-eater and back-talk. 

Lounsbury went even further. In the course of a series of ar- 
ticles in Harper's Magazine, in 1913, 19 he laid down the dogma 
that "cultivated speech . . . affords the only legitimate basis 
of comparison between the language as used in England and in 
America, ' ' and then went on : 

In the only really proper sense of the term, an Americanism is a 
word or phrase naturally used by an educated American which under 
similar conditions would not be used by an educated Englishman. The 
emphasis, it will be seen, lies in the word "educated." 

This curious criterion, fantastic as it must have seemed to 

is A Glossary of Words and Phrases Usually Regarded as Peculiar to the 
United States, 4th ed.; Boston, 1877. 
is Feb., March, June, July, Sept. 


European philologists, was presently reinforced, for in his fourth 
article Lounsbury announced that his discussion was "restricted 
to the written speech of educated men." The result, of course, 
was a wholesale slaughter of Americanisms. If it was not impos- 
sible to reject a word, like White, on the ground that some stray 
English poet or other had once used it, it was almost always pos- 
sible to reject it on the ground that it was not admitted into the 
vocabulary of a college professor when he sat down to compose 
formal book-English. What remained was a small company, in- 
deed and almost the whole field of American idiom and Ameri- 
can grammar, so full of interest for the less austere explorer, 
was closed without even a peek into it. 

White and Lounsbury dominated the arena and fixed the 
fashion. The later national experts upon the national language, 
with a few somewhat timorous exceptions, pass over its peculiari- 
ties without noticing them. So far as I can discover, there is not 
a single treatise in type upon one of its most salient characters 
the wide departure of some of its vowel sounds from those of 
orthodox English. Marsh, C. H. Grandgent and Robert J. Men- 
ner have printed a number^of valuable essays upon the subject, 
but there is no work that co-ordinates their inquiries or that at- 
tempts otherwise to cover the field. When, in preparing mate- 
rials for the following chapters, I sought to determine the his- 
tory of the a-sound in America, I found it necessary to plow 
through scores of ancient spelling-books, and to make deductions, 
perhaps sometimes rather rash, from the works of Franklin, 
Webster and Cobb. Of late the National Council of Teachers of 
English has appointed a Committee on American Speech and 
sought to let some light into the matter, but as yet its labors are 
barely begun and the publications of its members get little beyond 
preliminaries. Such an inquiry involves a laboriousness which 
should have intrigued Lounsbury: he once counted the number 
of times the word female appears in "Vanity Fair." But you 
will find only a feeble dealing with the question in his book on 
pronunciation. Nor is there any adequate work (for Schele de 
Vere's is full of errors and omissions) upon the influences felt 
by American through contact with the languages of our millions 


of immigrants, nor upon our peculiarly rich and characteristic 
slang. There are several excellent dictionaries of English slang, 
and many more of French slang, but I have been able to find but 
one devoted exclusively to American slang, and that one is a 
very bad one. 


The View of Writing Men But though the native Gelehrten 
thus neglect the vernacular, or even oppose its study, it has been 
the object of earnest lay attention since an early day, and that 
attention has borne fruit in a considerable accumulation of mate- 
rials, if not in any very accurate working out of its origins and 
principles. The English, too, have given attention to it often, 
alas, satirically, or even indignantly. For a long while, as we 
shall see, they sought to stem its differentiation by heavy denun- 
ciations of its vagaries, and so late as the period of the Civil 
War they attached to it that quality of abhorrent barbarism 
which they saw as the chief mark of the American people. But 
in later years they have viewed it with a greater showing of sci- 
entific calm, and its definite separatiin from correct English, at 
least as a spoken tongue, is now quite frankly admitted. The 
Cambridge History of English Literature, for example, says that 
English and American are now "notably dissimilar" in vocab- 
ulary, and that the latter is splitting off into a distinct dialect. 20 
The Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, going 
further, says that the two languages are already so far apart that 
"it is not uncommon to meet with [American] newspaper articles 
of which an untravelled Englishman would hardly be able to 
understand a sentence. " 21 A great many other academic au- 
thorities, including A. H. Sayce and H. W. and F. G. Fowler, 
bear testimony to the same effect. 

On turning to the men actually engaged in writing English, 
and particularly to those aspiring to an American audience, one 
finds nearly all of them adverting, at some time or other, to the 
growing difficulties of intercommunication. William Archer, 

20 Vol. xiv, pp. 484-5; Cambridge, 1917. 

21 Vol. xxv, p. 209. 


Arnold Bennett, H. G. Wells, Sidney Low, the Chestertons and 
Kipling are some of those who have dealt with the matter at 
length. Low, in an article in the Westminster Gazette 22 iron- 
ically headed "Ought American to be Taught in our Schools?" 
has described how the latter-day British business man is "puz- 
zled by his ignorance of colloquial American" and "painfully 
hampered ' ' thereby in his handling of American trade. He con- 
tinues : 

In the United States of North America the study of the English 
tongue forms part of the educational scheme. I gather this because I 
find that they have professors of the English language and literature 
in the Universities there, and I note that in the schools there are certain 
hours alloted for "English" under instructors who specialize in that 
subject. This is quite right. English is still far from being a dead 
language, and our American kinsfolk are good enough to appreciate 
the fact. 

But I think we should return the compliment. We ought to learn 
the American language in our schools and colleges. At present it is 
strangely neglected by the educational authorities. They pay attention 
to linguistic attainments of many other kinds, but not to this. How 
many thousands of youths are at this moment engaged in puzzling their 
brains over Latin and Greek -grammar only Whitehall knows. Every 
well-conducted seminary has some instructor who is under the delusion 
that he is teaching English boys and girls to speak French with a good 
Parisian accent. We teach German, Italian, even Spanish, Russian, 
modern Greek, Arabic, Hindustani. For a moderate fee you can ac- 
quire a passing acquaintance with any of these tongues at the Berlitz 
Institute and the Gouin Schools. But even in these polyglot establish- 
ments there is nobody to teach you American. I have never seen a 
grammar of it or a dictionary. I have searched in vain at the book- 
sellers for "How to Learn American in Three Weeks" or some similar 
compendium. Nothing of the sort exists. The native speech of one 
hundred millions of civilized people is as grossly neglected by the pub- 
lishers as it is by the schoolmasters. You can find means to learn 
Hausa or Swahili or Cape Dutch in London more easily than the ex- 
pressive, if difficult, tongue which is spoken in the office, the bar-room, 
the tram-car, from the snows of Alaska to the mouths of the Missis- 
sippi, and is enshrined in a literature that is growing in volume and 
every day. 

Low then quotes an extract from an American novel appear- 
as July 18, 1913. 



ing serially in an English magazine an extract including such 
Americanisms as side-stepper, saltwater-taffy, Prince-Albert 
(coat), boob, bartender and' kidding, and many characteristically 
American extravagances of metaphor. It might be well argued, 
he goes on, that this strange dialect is as near to "the tongue 
that Shakespeare spoke" as "the dialect of Bayswater or Brix- 
ton," but that philological fact does not help to its understand- 
ing. "You might almost as well expect him [the British busi- 
ness man] to converse freely with a Portuguese railway porter 
because he tried to stumble through Caesar when he was in the 
Upper Fourth at school. ' ' 

In the London Daily Mail, W. G. Faulkner lately launched this 
proposed campaign of education by undertaking to explain vari- 
ous terms appearing in American moving-pictures to English 
spectators. Mr. Faulkner assumed that most of his readers 
would understand sombrero, sidewalk, candy-store, freight -car, 
boost, elevator, boss, crook and fall (for autumn} without help, 
but he found it necessary to define such commonplace Ameri- 
canisms as hoodlum, hobo, bunco-steerer, rubber-neck, drummer, 
sucker, dive (in the sense of a thieves' resort), clean-up, graft 
and to~Jeafure. Curiously enough, he proved the reality of the 
difficulties he essayed to level by falling into error as to the mean- 
ings of some of the terms he listed, among them dead-beat, flume, 
dub and stag. Another English expositor, apparently following 
him, thought it necessary to add definitions of hold-up, quitter, 
rube, shack, road-agent, cinch, live-wire and scab, 23 but he, too, 
mistook the meaning of dead-beat, and in addition he misdefined 
band-wagon and substituted get-out, seemingly an invention of 
his own, for get-away. Faulkner, somewhat belated in his ani- 
mosity, seized the opportunity to read a homily upon the vulgar- 
ity and extravagance of the American language, and argued that 
the introduction of ite coinages through the moving-picture 
theatre (Anglais, cinema) "cannot be regarded without serious 

23 Of the words cited as still unfamiliar in England, Thornton has 
traced hobo to 1891, hold-up and bunco to 1887, dive to 1882, dead-beat to 
1877, hoodlum to 1872, road-agent to 1866, stag to 1856, drummer to 1836 
and flume to 1792. All of them are probably older than these references in- 


misgivings, if only because it generates and encourages mental 
indiscipline so far as the choice of expressions is concerned." 
In other words, the greater pliability and resourcefulness of 
American is a fault to be corrected by the English tendency to 
hold to that which is established. 

Cecil Chesterton, in the New Witness, recently called atten- 
tion to the increasing difficulty of intercommunication, not only 
verbally, but in writing. The American newspapers, he said, 
even the best of them, admit more and more locutions that puzzle 
and dismay an English reader. After quoting a characteristic 
headline he went on : 

I defy any ordinary Englishman to say that that is the English lan- 
guage or that he can find any intelligible meaning in it. Even a dic- 
tionary will be of no use to him. He must know the language collo- 
quially or not at all. . . . No doubt it is easier for an Englishman to ; 
understand American than it would be for a Frenchman to do the same, 
just as it is easier for a German to understand Dutch than it would be 
for a Spaniard. But it does not make the American language identical 
with the English. 2 * 

Chesterton, however, refrained from denouncing this lack of 
identity ; on the contrary, he allowed certain merits to American. 
"I do not want anybody to suppose," he said, "that the Ameri- 
can language is in any way inferior to ours. In some ways it has 
improved upon it in vigor and raciness. In other ways it ad- 
heres more closely to the English of the best period." Testi- 
mony to the same end was furnished before this by William 
Archer. "New words," he said, "are begotten by new condi- 
tions of life ; and as American life is far more fertile of new con- 
ditions than ours, the tendency toward neologism cannot but 
be stronger in America than in England. America has enor- 
mously enriched the language, not only with new words, but 
(since the American mind is, on the whole, quicker and wittier 
than the English) with apt and luminous colloquial meta- 
phors." 25 

The list of such quotations might be indefinitely prolonged. 

24 Summarized in Literary Digest, June 19, 1915. 
26 America Today, Berliner's, Feb. 1899, p. 218. 


There is scarcely an English book upon the United States which 
does not offer some discussion, more or less profound, of Ameri- 
can peculiarities of speech, both as they are revealed in spoken 
discourse (particularly pronunciation and intonation) and as 
they show themselves in popular literature and in the news- 
papers, and to this discussion protest is often added, as it very 
often is by the reviews and newspapers. "The Americans," 
says a typical critic, "have so far progressed with their self-ap- 
pointed task of creating an American language that much of 
their conversation is now incomprehensible to English people. ' ' 2 * 
On our own side there is almost equal evidence of a sense of dif- 
ference, despite the fact that the educated American is presum- 
ably trained in orthodox English, and can at least read it without 
much feeling of strangeness. "The American," says George 
Ade, in his book of travel, "In Pastures New," "must go to 
England in order to learn for a dead certainty that he does not 
speak the English language. . . . This pitiful fact comes home 
to every American when he arrives in London that there are 
two languages, the English and the American. One is correct; 
the other is incorrect. One is a pure and limpid stream; the 
other is a stagnant pool, swarming with bacilli. ' ' 2T This was 
written in 1906. Twenty-five years earlier Mark Twain had 
made the same observation. "When I speak my native tongue 
in its utmost purity in England," he said, "an Englishman 
can 't understand me at all. ' ' 28 The languages, continued 
Mark, "were identical several generations ago, but our changed 
conditions and the spread of our people far to the south and far 
to the west have made many alterations in our pronunciation, 
and have introduced new words among us and changed the 
meanings of old ones." Even before this the great humorist 
had marked and hailed these differences. Already in "Rough- 
ing It" he was celebrating "the vigorous new vernacular of the 

26 London Court Journal, Aug. 28, 1892. 

ZT In Pastures New ; New York, 1906, p. 6. 

28 Concerning the American Language, in The Stolen White Elephant ; 
Boston, 1882. A footnote says that the essay is "part of a chapter crowded, 
out of A Tramp Abroad." (Hartford, 1880.) 


occidental plains and mountains, ' ' 20 and in all his writings, even 
the most serious, he deliberately engrafted its greater liberty 
and more fluent idiom upon the stem of English, and so lent the 
dignity of his high achievement to a dialect that was as unmistak- 
ably American as the point of view underlying it. 

The same tendency is plainly visible in William Dean Howells. 
His novels are mines of American idiom, and his style shows an 
undeniable revolt against the trammels of English grammarians. 
In 1886 he made a plea in Harper's for a concerted effort to put 
American on its own legs. "If we bother ourselves," he said, 
"to write what the critics imagine to be 'English/ we shall be 
priggish and artificial, and still more so if we make our Ameri- 
cans talk 'English.' . . . On our lips our continental English 
will differ more and more from the insular English, and we be- 
lieve that this is not deplorable but desirable. ' ' 30 Howells then 
proceeded to discuss the nature of the difference, and described 
it accurately as determined by the greater rigidity and formality 
of the English of modern England. In American, he said, there 
was to be seen that easy looseness of phrase and gait which char- 
acterized the English of the Elizabethan era, and particularly 
the Elizabethan hospitality to changed meanings and bold meta- 
phors. American, he argued, made new words much faster than 
English, and they were, in the main, words of much greater 
daring and savor. 

The difference between the two tongues, thus noted by the 
writers of both, was made disconcertingly apparent to the Amer- 
ican troops when they first got to France and came into contact 
with the English. Fraternizing was made difficult by the wide 
divergence in vocabulary and pronunciation a divergence in- 
terpreted by each side as a sign of uncouthness. The Y. M. C. A. 
made a characteristic effort to turn the resultant feeling of 
strangeness and homesickness among the Americans to account. 
In the Chicago Tribune's Paris edition of July 7, 1917, I find a 
large advertisement inviting them to make use of the Y. M. C. A. 

29 Hartford, 1872, p. 45. 

so The Editor's Study, Harper's Magazine, Jan. 1886. 


clubhouse in the Avenue Montaigue, "where American is 
spoken." Earlier in the war the Illinoiser Staats Zeitung, no 
doubt seeking to keep the sense of difference alive, advertised 
that it would ' ' publish articles daily in the American language. ' ' 


Foreign Observers What English and American laymen have 
thus observed has not escaped the notice of continental philolo- 
gists. The first edition of Bartlett, published in 1848, brought 
forth a long and critical review in the Archiv fur das Studium 
der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen by Prof. Felix Fliigel, 21 
and in the successive volumes of the Archiv, down to our own 
day, there have been many valuable essays upon Americanisms, 
by such men as Herrig, Koehler and Koeppel. Various Dutch 
philologists, among them Barentz, Keijzer and Van der Voort, 
have also discussed the subject, and a work in French has been 
published by G. A. Barringer. 32 That, even to the lay Continen- 
tal, American and English now differ considerably, is demon- 
strated by the fact that many of the. popular German Sprach- 
fuhrer appear in separate editions, Amerikanisch and Englisch. 
This is true of the "Metoula Sprachf iihrer " published by Prof. 
F. Lan^nscheidt 33 and of the "Polyglott Kuntz" books. 34 The 
American edition of the latter starts off with the doctrine that 
"Jeder, der nach Nord-Amerika oder Australien will, muss Eng- 
lisch ko'nnen," but a great many of the words and phrases that 
appear in its examples would be unintelligible to many English- 
men e. g., free-lunch, real-estate agent, buckwheat, corn (for 
maize), conductor, pop-corn and drug-store and a number of 
others would suggest false meanings or otherwise puzzle e. g., 
napkin, saloon, wash-stand, water-pitcher and apple-pie. 35 To 

si Die englische Sprache in Nordamerika, band iv, heft i ; Braunschweig, 

32 fitude sur 1'Anglais Parle" aux Etats Unis (la Langue Americaine), 
Actes de la Societe Philologique de Paris, March, 1874. 

33 Metoula-Sprachf iihrer. . . . Englisch von Karl Blattner; Ausgabe fur 
Amerika; Berlin-Schoneberg, 1912. 

3* Polyglott Kuntze ; Schnellste Erlernung jeder Sprache ohne Lehrer ; 
Amerikanisch; Bonn a. Rh., n. d. 

SB Like the English expositors of American slang, this German falls int 


these pedagogical examples must be added that of Baedeker, of 
guide-book celebrity. In his guide-book to the United States, 
prepared for Englishmen, he is at pains to explain the meaning 
of various American words and phrases. 

A philologist of Scandinavian extraction, Elias Molee, has 
gone so far as to argue that the acquisition of correct English, to 
a people grown so mongrel in blood as the Americans, has be- 
come a useless burden. In place of it he proposes a mixed 
tongue, based on English, but admitting various elements from 
the other Germanic languages. His grammar, however, is so 
much more complex than that of English that most Americans 
would probably find his artificial " American" very difficult of 
acquirement. At all events it has made no progress. 36 


The Characters of American The characters chiefly noted in 
American speech by all who have discussed it are, first, its gen- -> 
eral uniformity throughout the country, so that, dialects, prop- ^ 
erly speaking, are confined to recent immigrants, to the native ' 
whites of a few isolated areas and to the negroes of the South ; 
and, secondly, its impatient disdain of rule and precedent, and 
hence its large capacity (distinctly greater than that of the Eng- 
lish of England) for taking in new words and phrases and for 
manufacturing new locutions out of its own materials. The first 
of these characters has struck every observer, native and for- 
eign. In place of the local dialects of other countries we have a 
general Volkssprache for the whole nation, and if it is condi- 

several errors. For example, he gives cock for rooster, boots for shoes, 
braces for suspenders and postman for letter-carrier, and lists iron-monger, 
joiner and linen-draper, as American terms. He also spells wagon in the 
English manner, with two g's, and translates Schweinefusse as pork-feet. 
But he spells such words as color in the American manner and gives the 
pronunciation of clerk as the American klork, not as the English Mark. 

as Molee's notions are set forth in Plea for an American Language . . . ; 
Chicago, 1888; and Tutonish; Chicago, 1902. He announced the prepara- 
tion of A Dictionary of the American Language in 1888, but so far as I 
know it has not been published. He was born in Wisconsin, of Norwegian 
parents, in 1845, and pursued linguistic studies at the University of Wis- 
consin, where he seems to have taken a Ph. B. 


tioned at all it is only by minor differences in pronunciation and 
by the linguistic struggles of various groups of newcomers. 
"The speech of the United States," said Gilbert M. Tucker, "is 
quite unlike that of Great Britain in the important particular 
that here we have no dialects. 37 "We all," said Mr. Taft dur- 
ing his presidency, ' ' speak the same language and have the same 
ideas." "Manners, morals and political views," said the New 
York World, commenting upon this dictum, ' ' have all undergone 
a standardization which is one of the remarkable aspects of 
American evolution. Perhaps it is in the uniformity of lan- 
guage that this development has been most noteworthy. Outside 
of the Tennessee mountains and the back country of New Eng- 
land there is no true dialect. " 38 " While we have or have had 
single counties as large as Great Britain," says another Ameri- 
can observer, "and in some of our states England could be lost, 
there is practically no difference between the American spoken 
in our 4,039,000 square miles of territory, except as spoken by 
foreigners. We, assembled here, would be perfectly understood 
by delegates from Texas, Maine, Minnesota, Louisiana, or Alaska, 
or from whatever walk of life they might come. We can go to 
any of the 75,000 postoffices in this country and be entirely sure 
we will be understood, whether we want to buy a stamp or bor- 
row a match. " 39 " From Portland, Maine, to Portland, Ore- 
gon," agrees an English critic, "no trace of a distinct dialect is 
to be found. The man from Maine, even though he may be of 
inferior education and limited capacity, can completely under- 
stand the man from Oregon. ' ' 40 

No other country can show such linguistic solidarity, nor any 
approach to it not even Canada, for there a large part of the 
population resists learning English altogether. The Little Rus- 
sian of the Ukraine is unintelligible to the citizen of Petrograd ; 

87 American English, North American Review, Jan. 1883. 
ss Oct. 1, 1909. 

39 J. F. Healy, general manager of the Davis Colliery Co. at Elkins, 
W. Va., in a speech before the West Virginia Coal Mining Institute, at 
Wheeling, Dec. 1910; reprinted as The American Language; Pittsburgh, 

40 Westminster Review, July, 1888, p. 35. 


the Northern Italian can scarcely follow a conversation in Sici- 
lian ; the Low German from Hamburg is a foreigner in Munich ; 
the Breton flounders in Gascony. Even in the United Kingdom 
there are wide divergences. 41 "When we remember," says the 
New International Encyclopaedia 42 "that the dialects of the 
countries (sic) in England have marked differences so marked, 
indeed that it may be doubted whether a Lancashire miner and a 
Lincolnshire farmer could understand each other we may well 
be proud that our vast country has, strictly speaking, only one 
language." This uniformity was noted by the earliest observ- 
ers ; Pickering called attention to it in the preface to his Vocab- 
ulary and ascribed it, no doubt accurately, to the restlessness of 
the Americans, their inheritance of the immigrant spirit, "the 
frequent removals of people from one part of our country to 
another." It is especially marked in vocabulary and gram- 
matical formsrythe foundation stones of a living speech. There 
may be alight* differences in pronunciation and intonation a 
Southern softness, a Yankee drawl, a Western burr but in the 
words they use and the way they use them all Americans, even 
the least tutored, follow the same line. One observes, of course, 
a polite speech and a common speech, but the common speech is 
everywhere the same, and its uniform vagaries take the place of 
the dialectic variations of other lands. A Boston street-car con- 
ductor could go to work in Chicago, San Francisco or New Or- 
leans without running the slightest risk of misunderstanding his 
new fares. Once he had picked up half a dozen localisms, he 
would be, to all linguistic intents and purposes, fully naturalized. 
Of the intrinsic differences that separate American from Eng- 
lish the chief have their roots in the obvious disparity between 
the environment and traditions of the American people since the 
seventeenth century and those of the English. The latter have 
lived under a stable social order, and it has impressed upon their 

souls their characteristic respect for what is customary and of 
4i W. W. Skeat distinguishes no less than 9 dialects in Scotland, 3 in 
Ireland and 30 in England and Wales. Vide English Dialects From the 
Eighth Century to the Present Day; Cambridge, 1911, p. 107 et seq. 
42 Art. Americanisms, 2nd ed. 


good report. Until the war brought chaos to their institutions, 
their whole lives were regulated, perhaps more than those of any 
other people save the Spaniards, by a regard for precedent. 
The Americans, though largely of the same blood, have felt no 
such restraint, and acquired no such habit of conformity. On 
the cbntraiy, they have plunged to the other extreme, for the 
conditions of life in their new country have put a high value 
upon the precisely opposite qualities of curiosity and daring, 
and so they have acquired that character of restlessness, that im- 
patience of forms, that disdain of the dead hand, which now 
broadly marks them. From the first, says a recent literary his- 
torian, they have been "less phlegmatic, less conservative than 
the English. There were climatic influences, it may be; there 
was surely a spirit of intensity everywhere that made for short 
effort. ' ' 43 Thus, in the arts, and thus in business, in politics, in 
daily intercourse, in habits of mind and speech. The American 
is not, in truth, lacking in a capacity for discipline; he has it 
highly developed; he submits to leadership readily, and even to 
tyranny. But, by a curious twist, it is not the leadership that 
is old and decorous that fetches him, but the leadership that is 
new and extravagant. He will resist dictation out of the past, 
but he will follow a new messiah with almost Russian willing- 
ness, and into the wildest vagaries of economics, religion, morals 
and speech. A new fallacy in politics spreads faster in the 
United States than anywhere else on earth, and so does a new 
fashion in hats, or a new revelation of God, or a new means of 
killing time, or a new metaphor or piece of slang. 

Thus the American, on his linguistic side, likes to make his 
language as he goes along, and not all the hard work of his 
grammar teachers can hold the business back. A novelty loses 
nothing by the fact that it is a novelty; it rather gains some- 
thing, and particularly if it meet the national fancy for the terse, 
the vivid, and, above all, the bold and imaginative. The char- 
acteristic American habit of reducing complex concepts to the 
starkest abbreviations was already noticeable in colonial times, 

*3 F. L. Pattee: A History of American Literature Since 1870; New 
York, 1916. 


and such, highly typical Americanisms as 0. K., N. G., and P. 
D. Q., have been traced back to the first days of the republic. 
Nor are the influences that shaped these early tendencies in- 
visible today, for the country is still in process of growth, and 
no settled social order has yet descended upon it. Institution- 
making is still going on, and so is language-making. In so mod- 
est an operation as that which has evolved bunco from buncombe 
and bunk from bunco there is evidence of a phenomenon which 
the philologist recognizes as belonging to the most primitive and 
lusty stages of speech. The American vulgate is not only con- 
stantly making new words, it is also deducing roots from them, 
and so giving proof, as Prof. Sayce says, that ' ' the creative pow- 
ers of language are even now not extinct. ' ' 44 

But of more importance than its sheer inventions, if only be- 
cause much more numerous, are its extensions of the vocabulary, 
both absolutely and in ready workableness, by the devices of 
rhetoric. The American, from the beginning, has been the most 
ardent of recorded rhetoricians. His politics bristles with pun- 
gent epithets; his whole history has been bedizened with tall 
talk; his fundamental institutions rest as much upon brilliant 
phrases as upon logical ideas. And in small things as in large 
he exercises continually an incomparable capacity for projecting 
hidden and often fantastic relationships into arresting parts of 
speech. Such a term as rubber-neck is almost a complete treat- 
ise on American psychology; it reveals the national habit of 
mind more clearly than any labored inquiry could ever reveal it. 
It has in it precisely the boldness and disdain of ordered forms 
that are so characteristically American, and it has too the gro- 
tesque humor of the country, and the delight in devastating 
opprobriums, and the acute feeling for the succinct and sav- 
ory. The same qualities are in rough-house, water-wagon, 
near-silk, has-been, lame-duck and a thousand other such racy 
substantives, and in all the great stock of native verbs and ad- 
jectives. There is, indeed, but a shadowy boundary in these new 
coinages between the various parts of speech. Corral, borrowed 

** A. H. Sayce : Introduction to the Science of Language, 2 vols. ; London, 
1900. See especially vol. ii, ch. vi. 


from, the Spanish, immediately becomes a verb and the father of 
an adjective. Bust, carved out of burst, erects itself into a noun. 
Bum, coming by way of an earlier bummer from the German 
bummler, becomes noun, adjective, verb and adverb. Verbs 
are fashioned out of substantives by the simple process of pre- 
fixing the preposition: to engineer, to chink, to stump, to hog. 
Others grow out of an intermediate adjective, as to boom. Others 
are made by torturing nouns with harsh affixes, as to burglarize 
and to itemize, or by groping for the root, as to resurrect. Yet 
others are changed from intransitive to transitive: a sleeping- 
car sleeps thirty passengers. So with the adjectives. They are 
made of substantives unchanged: codfish, jitney. Or by bold 
combinations: down-and-out, up-state, flat-footed. Or by shad- 
ing down suffixes to a barbaric simplicity: scary, classy, tasty. 
Or by working over adverbs until they tremble on the brink be- 
tween adverb and adjective : right and near are examples. 

All of these processes, of course, are also to be observed in the 
English of England ; in the days of its great Elizabethan growth 
they were in the lustiest possible being. They are, indeed, 
common to all languages ; they keep language alive. But if you 
will put the English of today beside the American of today you 
will see at once how much more forcibly they are in operation 
in the latter than in the former. English has been arrested in 
its growth by its purists and grammarians. It shows no living 
change in structure and syntax since the days of Anne, and very 
little modification in either pronunciation or vocabulary. Its 
tendency is to conserve that which is established ; to say the new 
thing, as nearly as possible, in the old way; to combat all that 
expansive gusto which made for its pliancy and resilience in the 
days of Shakespeare. In place of the old loose-footedness there 
is set up a preciosity which, in one direction, takes the form of 
unyielding affectations in the spoken language, and in another 
form shows itself in the heavy Johnsonese of current English 
writing the Jargon denounced by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch in 
hit Cambridge lectures. This "infirmity of speech" Quiller- 
Couch finds "in parliamentary debates and in the newspapers"; 


. . . "it has become the medium, through which Boards of Gov- 
ernment, County Councils, Syndicates, Committees, Commercial 
Firms, express the processes as well as the conclusions of their 
thought, and so voice the reason of their being. ' ' Distinct from 
journalese, the two yet overlap, "and have a knack of assimi- 
lating each other's vices." 45 

American, despite the gallant efforts of the professors, has so 
far escaped any such suffocating formalization. We, too, of 
course, have our occasional practitioners of the authentic Eng- 
lish Jargon; in the late Grover Cleveland we produced an 
acknowledged master of it. But in the main our faults in writ- 
ing lie in precisely the opposite direction. That is to say, we 
incline toward a directness of statement which, at its greatest, 
lacks restraint and urbanity altogether, and toward a hospitality 
which often admits novelties for the mere sake of their novelty, 
and is quite uncritical of the difference between a genuine im- 
provement in succinctness and clarity, and mere extravagant raci- 
ness. "The tendency," says one English observer, "is ... to 
consider the speech of any man, as any man himself, as good as 
any other." 46 "All beauty and distinction," says another, 47 
"are ruthlessly sacrificed to force." Moreover, this strong re- 
volt against conventional bonds is by no means confined to the 
folk-speech, nor even to the loose conversational English of the 
upper classes; it also gets into more studied discourse, both 
spoken and written. I glance through the speeches of Dr. 
Woodrow Wilson, surely a purist if we have one at all, and find, 
in a few moments, half a dozen locutions that an Englishman in 
like position would never dream of using, among them we must 
get a move <m, 48 hog as a verb, 49 gum-shoe as an adjective with 

45 Cf. the chapter, Interlude : On Jargon, in Quiller-Couch's On the Art 
of Writing; New York, 1916. Curiously enough, large parts of the learned 
critic's book are written in the very Jargon he attacks. 

46 Alexander Francis: Americans: an Impression; New York, 1900. 

47 G. Lowes Dickinson, in the English Review, quoted by Current Litera- 
ture, April, 1910. 

4 8 Speech before the Chamber of Commerce Convention, Washington, Feb. 
19, 1916. 

4 Speech at workingman's dinner, New York, Sept. 4, 1912. 


verbal overtones, 50 onery in place of ordinary,^ and that is going 
some. 52 From the earliest days, indeed, English critics have 
found this gipsy tendency in our most careful writing. They 
denounced it in Marshall, Cooper, Mark Twain, Poe, Lossing, 
Lowell and Holmes, and even in Hawthorne and Thoreau ; and it 
was no less academic a work than W. C. Brownell's "French 
Traits" which brought forth, in a London literary journal, the 
dictum that ' ' the language most depressing to the cultured Eng- 
lishman is the language of the cultured American." Even 
' ' educated American English, ' ' agrees the chief of modern Eng- 
lish grammarians, "is now almost entirely independent of Brit- 
ish influence, and differs from it considerably, though as yet not 
enough to make the two dialects American English and British 
English mutually unintelligible. ' ' 53 

American thus shows its character in a constant experimenta- 
tion, a wide hospitality to novelty, a steady reaching out for 
new and vivid forms. No other tongue of modern times admits 
foreign words and phrases more readily; none is more careless 
of precedents ; none shows a greater fecundity and originality of 
fancy. It is producing new words every day, by trope, by ag- 
glutination, by the shedding of inflections, by the merging of 
parts of speech, and by sheer brilliance of imagination. It is 
full of what Bret Harte called the "sabre-cuts of Saxon"; it 
meets Montaigne's ideal of "a succulent and nervous speech, 
short and compact, not as much delicated and combed out as 
vehement and brusque, rather arbitrary than monotonous, not 
pedantic but soldierly, as Suetonius called Caesar's Latin." 
One pictures the common materials of English dumped into a 
pot, exotic flavorings added, and the bubblings assiduously and 
expectantly skimmed. What is old and respected is already in 
decay the moment it comes into contact with what is new and 
vivid. Let American confront a novel problem alongside Eng- 

BO Wit and Wisdom of Woodrow Wilson, comp. by Richard Linthicum ; 
New York, 1916, p. 54. 

si Speech at Ridgewood, N. J., April 22, 1910. 

62 Wit and Wisdom . . ., p. 56. 

S3 Henry Sweet : A New English Grammar, Logical and Historical, 2 
parts; Oxford, 1900-03, part i, p. 224. 


lish, and immediately its superior imaginativeness and resource- 
fulness become obvious. Movie is better than cinema; it is not 
only better American, it is better English. Bill-board is better 
than hoarding. Office-holder is more honest, more picturesque, 
more thoroughly Anglo-Saxon that public-servant. Stehn- 
winder somehow has more life in it, more fancy and vividness, 
than the literal keyless-watch. Turn to the terminology of rail- 
roading (itself, by the way, an Americanism) : its creation fell 
upon the two peoples equally, but they tackled the job inde- 
pendently. The English, seeking a figure to denominate the 
wedge-shaped fender in front of a locomotive, called it a plough; 
the Americans, characteristically, gave it the far more pungent 
name of cow-catcher. So with the casting where two rails join. 
The English called it a crossing-plate. The Americans, more re- 
sponsive to the suggestion in its shape, called it a frog. 

This boldness of conceit, of course, makes for vulgarity. Un- 
restrained by any critical sense and the critical sense of the 
professors counts for little, for they cry wolf too often it flow- 
ers in such barbaric inventions as tasty, alright, no-account, 
pants, go-aheadativeness, tony, semi-occasional, to fellowship 
and to doxologize. Let it be admitted : American is not infre- 
quently vulgar; the Americans, too, are vulgar (Bayard Taylor 
called them "Anglo-Saxons relapsed into semi-barbarism") ; 
America itself is unutterably vulgar. But vulgarity, after all, 
means no more than a yielding to natural impulses in the face of 
conventional inhibitions, and that yielding to natural impulses 
is at the heart of all healthy language-making. The history of 
English, like the history of American and every other living 
tongue, is a history of vulgarisms that, by their accurate meet- 
ing of real needs, have forced their way into sound usage, and 
even into the lifeless catalogues of the grammarians. The colo- 
nial pedants denounced to advocate as bitterly as they ever de- 
nounced to compromit or to happify, and all the English au- 
thorities gave them aid, but it forced itself into the American 
language despite them, and today it is even accepted as English 
and has got into the Oxford Dictionary. To donate, so late as 
1870, was dismissed by Richard Grant White as ignorant and 


abominable and to this day the English will have none of it, but 
there is not an American dictionary that doesn't accept it, and 
surely no American writer would hesitate to use it. 54 Reliable, 
gubernatorial, standpoint and scientist have survived opposition 
of equal ferocity. The last-named was coined by William 
Whewell, an Englishman, in 1840, but was first adopted in 
America. Despite the fact that Fitzedward Hall and other emi- 
nent philologists used it and defended it, it aroused almost in- 
credible opposition in England. So recently as 1890 it was de- 
nounced by the London Daily News as "an ignoble American- 
ism," and according to William Archer it was finally accepted 
by the English only ' ' at the point of the bayonet. ' ' B5 

The purist performs a useful office in enforcing a certain 
logical regularity upon the process, and in our own case the 
omnipresent example of the greater conservatism of the English 
corrects our native tendency to go too fast, but the process it- 
self is as inexorable in its workings as the precession of the 
equinoxes, and if we yield to it more eagerly than the English 
it is only a proof, perhaps, that the future of what was once the 
Anglo-Saxon tongue lies on this side of the water. "The story 
of English grammar," says Murison, "is a story of simplifica- 
tion, of dispensing with grammatical forms. ' ' 56 And of the 
most copious and persistent enlargement of vocabulary and mu- 
tation of idiom ever recorded, perhaps, by descriptive philology. 
English now has the brakes on, but American continues to leap 
in the dark, and the prodigality of its movement is all the indi- 

5* Despite this fact an academic and ineffective opposition to it still goes 
on. On the Style Sheet of the Century Magazine it is listed among the 
"words and phrases to be avoided." It was prohibited by the famous Index 
Expurgatorius prepared by William Cullen Bryant for the New York Even- 
ing Post, and his prohibition is still theoretically in force, but the word 
is now actually permitted by the Post. The Chicago Daily News Style 
Book, dated July 1, 1908, also bans it. 

55 Scientist is now in the Oxford Dictionary. So are reliable, standpoint 
and gubernatorial. But the Century Magazine still bans standpoint and the 
Evening Post (at least in theory) bans both standpoint and reliable. The 
Chicago Daily News accepts standpoint, but bans reliable and gubernatorial. 
All of these words, of course, are now quite as good as ox or and. 

5 Art. Changes in the Language Since Shakespeare's Time, Cambridge 
History of English Literature, vol. xiv. p. 491. 


cation that is needed of its intrinsic health, its capacity to meet 
the ever-changing needs of a restless and iconoclastic people, con- 
stantly fluent in racial composition, and disdainful of hamper- 
ing traditions. "Language," says Sayce, "is no artificial prod- 
uct, contained in books and dictionaries and governed by the 
strict rules of impersonal grammarians. It is the living expres- 
sion of the mind and spirit of a people, ever changing and shift- 
ing, whose sole standard of correctness is custom and the common 
usage of the community. . . . The first lesson to be learned is 
that there is no intrinsic right or wrong in the use of language, 
no fixed rules such as are the delight of the teacher of Latin 
prose. What is right now will be wrong hereafter, what lan- 
guage rejected yesterday she accepts today. ' ' " 


The Materials of American One familiar with the habits of 
pedagogues need not be told that, in their grudging discussions 
of American, they have spent most of their energies upon vain 
attempts to classify its materials. White and Lounsbury, as I 
have shown, carried the business to the limits of the preposter- 
ous ; when they had finished identifying and cataloguing Ameri- 
canisms there were no more Americanisms left to study. The 
ladies and gentlemen of the American Dialect Society, though 
praiseworthy for their somewhat deliberate industry, fall into a 
similar fault, for they are so eager to establish minute dialectic 
variations that they forget the general language almost alto- 

Among investigators of less learning there is a more spacious 
view of the problem, and the labored categories of White and 
Lounsbury are much extended. Pickering, the first to attempt 
a list of Americanisms, rehearsed their origin under the follow- 
ing headings : 

1. "We have formed some new words." 

2. "To some old ones, that are still in use in England, we have affixed 
new significations." 

5 7 Introduction to the Science of Language, vol. ii, pp. 333-4. 


3. "Others, which have long been obsolete in England, are still re- 
tained in common use among us." 

Bartlett, in the second edition of his dictionary, dated 1859, 
increased these classes to nine ; 

1. Archaisms, i. e., old English words, obsolete, or nearly so, in Eng- 
land, but retained in use in this country. 

2. English words used in a different sense from what they are in 
England. These include many names of natural objects differently 

3. Words which have retained their original meaning in the United 
States, though not in England. 

4. English provincialisms adopted into general use in America. 

5. Newly coined words, which owe their origin to the productions or 
to the circumstances of the country. 

6. Words borrowed from European languages, especially the French, 
Spanish, Dutch and German. 

7. Indian words. 

8. Negroisms. 

9. Peculiarities of pronunciation. 

Some time before this, but after the publication of Bartlett 's 
first edition in 1848, William C. Fowler, professor of rhetoric 
at Amherst, devoted a brief chapter to "American Dialects" in 
his well-known work on English 68 and in it one finds the fol- 
lowing formidable classification of Americanisms : 

1. Words borrowed from other languages. 

a. Indian, as Kennebec, Ohio, Tombigbee; sagamore, quahaug, suc- 

b. Dutch, as boss, kruller, stoop. 

c. German, as spuke (?), sauerkraut. 

d. French, as bayou, cache, chute, crevasse, levee. 

e. Spanish, as calaboose, chapparal, hacienda, rancho, rancher o. 

f. Negro, as buckra. 

2. Words "introduced from the necessity of our situation, in order 
to express new ideas." 

a. Words "connected with and flowing from our political institu- 
tions," as selectman, presidential, congressional, caucus, mass-meeting, 
lynch-law, help (for servants'). 

b. Words "connected with our ecclesiastical institutions," as associa- 
tional, consociational, to fellowship, to missicmate. 

88 Op. eit., pp. 119-28. 


c. Words "connected with a new country," as lot, diggings, better- 
ments, squatter. 
3. Miscellaneous Americanisms. 

a. Words and phrases become obsolete in England, as talented, 
offset (for set-off), back and forth (for backward and forward). 

b. Old words and phrases "which are now merely provincial in 
England," as hub, whap (?), to wilt. 

c. Nouns formed from verbs by adding the French suffix -ment, 
as publishment, releasement, requirement. 

d. Forms of words "which fill the gap or vacancy between two 
words which are approved," as obligate (between oblige and obliga- 
tion) and variate (between vary and variation). 

e. "Certain compound terms for which the English have different 
compounds," as bank-bill, (bank-note), book-store (book-seller's shop), 
bottom-land (interval land), clapboard (pale), sea-board (sea-shore), 
side-hill ( hill-side ) . 

f. "Certain colloquial phrases, apparently idiomatic, and very ex- 
pressive," as to cave in, to flare up, to flunk out, to fork over, to hold 
on, to let on, to stave off, to take on. 

g. Intensives, "often a matter of mere temporary fashion," as 
dreadful, mighty, plaguy, powerful. 

h. "Certain verbs expressing one's state of mind, but partially or 
timidly," as to allot upon (for to count upon), to calculate, to expect 
(to think or believe) , to guess, to reckon. 

i. "Certain adjectives, expressing not only quality, but one's sub- 
jective feelings in regard to it," as clever, grand, green, likely, smart, 

j. Abridgments, as stage (for stage-coach), turnpike (for turnpike- 
road), spry (for sprightly), to conduct (for to conduct one's self). 

k. "Quaint or burlesque terms," as to tote, to yank; humbug, 
loafer, muss, plunder (for baggage), rock (for stone). 

I. "Low expressions, mostly political," as slang whamger, loco foco > 
hunker; to get the hang of. 

m. "Ungrammatical expressions, disapproved by all," as do don't, 
used to could, can't come it, Universal preacher (for Universalist), 
there's no two ways about it. 

Elwyn, in 1859, attempted no classification. 59 He confined his 
glossary to archaic English words surviving in America, and 
sought only to prove that they had come down "from our re- 
motest ancestry ' ' and were thus undeserving of the reviling lav- 

59 Alfred L. Elwyn, M. D. : Glossary of Supposed Americanisms . . . ; 
Phila., 1859. 


ished upon them by English critics. Schele de Vere, in 1872, 
followed Bartlett, and devoted himself largely to words bor- 
rowed from the Indian dialects, and from the French, Spanish 
and Dutch. But Farmer, in 1889, 60 ventured upon a new clas- 
sification, prefacing it with the following definition: 

An Americanism may be defined as a word or phrase, old or new, 
employed by general or respectable usage in America in a way not 
sanctioned by the best standards of the English language. As a mat- 
ter of fact, however, the term has come to possess a wider meaning, 
and it is now applied not only to words and phrases which can be so 
described, but also to the new and legitimately born words adapted to 
the general needs and usages, to the survivals of an older form of Eng- 
lish than that now current in the mother country, and to the racy, 
pungent vernacular of Western life. 

He then proceeded to classify his materials thus: 

1. Words and phrases of purely American derivation, embracing 
words originating in : 

a. Indian and aboriginal life. 

b. Pioneer and frontier life. 

c. The church. 

d. Politics. 

e. Trades of all kinds. 

f. Travel, afloat and ashore. 

2. Words brought by colonists, including: 

a. The German element. 
6. The French. 

c. The Spanish. 

d. The Dutch. 

e. The negro. 
f.. The Chinese. 

3. Names of American things, embracing : 

a. Natural products. 

&. Manufactured articles. 

4. Perverted English words. 

5. Obsolete English words still in good use in America. 

6. English words, American by inflection and modification. 

7. Odd and ignorant popular phrases, proverbs, vulgarisms, and 
colloquialisms, cant and slang. 

8. Individualisms. 

9. Doubtful and miscellaneous. 

o John S. Farmer: Americanisms Old and New . . .; London, 1889. 


Clapin, in 1902, 81 reduced these categories to four : 

1. Genuine English words, obsolete or provincial in England, and uni- 
versally used in the United States. 

2. English words conveying, in the United States, a different meaning 
from that attached to them in England. 

3. Words introduced from other languages than the English: 
French, Dutch, Spanish, German, Indian, etc. 

4. Americanisms proper, i.e., words coined in the country, either 
representing some new idea or peculiar product. 

Thornton, in 1912, substituted the following: 

1. Forms of speech now obsolete or provincial in England, which sur- 
vive in the United States, such as allow, bureau, fall, gotten, guess, 
likely, professor, shoat. 

2. Words and phrases of distinctly American origin, such as belittle, 
lengthy, lightning-rod, to darken one's doors, to bark up the wrong tree, 
to come out at the little end of the horn, blind tiger, cold snap, gay 
Quaker, gone coon, long sauce, pay dirt, small potatoes, some pumpkins. 

3. Nouns which indicate quadrupeds, birds, trees, articles of food, etc., 
that are distinctively American, such as ground-hog, hang-bird, hominy, 
live-oak, locust, opossum, persimmon, pone, succotash,, wampum, wig- 

4. Names of persons and classes of persons, and of places, such as 
Buckeye, Cracker, Greaser, Hoosier, Old Bullion, Old Hickory, the 
Little Giant, Dixie, Gotham, the Bay State, the Monumental City. 

5. Words which have assumed a new meaning, such as card, clever, 
fork, help, penny, plunder, raise, rock, sack, ticket, windfall. 

In addition, Thornton added a provisional class of "words and 
phrases of which I have found earlier examples in American 
than in English writers; . . . with the caveat that further re- 
search may reverse the claim" a class offering specimens in 
alarmist, capitalize, eruptiveness, horse of another colour (sic!), 
the jig's up, nameable, omnibus bill, propaganda and whitewash. 

No more than a brief glance at these classifications is needed to 
show that they hamper the inquiry by limiting its scope not so 
much, to be sure, as the ridiculous limitations of White and 
Lounsbury, but still very seriously. They meet the ends of 

i Sylva Clapin : A New Dictionary of Americanisms, Being a Glossary 
of Words Supposed to be Peculiar to the United States and the Dominion of 
Canada; New York, 1902. 


purely descriptive lexicography, but largely leave out of account 
some of the most salient characters of a living language, for 
example, pronunciation and idiom. Only Bartlett and Farmer 
establish a separate category of Americanisms produced by 
changes in pronunciation, though even Thornton, of course, is 
obliged to take notice of such forms as bust and bile. None of 
them, however, goes into the matter at any length, nor even into 
the matter of etymology. Bartlett 's etymologies are scanty and 
often inaccurate; Schele de Vere's are sometimes quite fanciful; 
Thornton offers scarcely any at all. The best of these collec- 
tions of Americanisms, and by long odds, is Thornton's. It 
presents an enormous mass of quotations, and they are all very 
carefully dated, and it corrects most of the more obvious errors 
in the work of earlier inquirers. But its very dependence upon 
quotations limits it chiefly to the written language, and so the 
enormously richer materials of the spoken language are passed 
over, and particularly the materials evolved during the past 
twenty years. One searches the two fat volumes in vain for 
such highly characteristic forms as would of, near-accident, and 
buttinski, the use of sure as an adverb, and the employment of 
well as a sort of general equivalent of the German also. 

These grammatical and syntactical tendencies are beyond the 
scope of Thornton's investigation, but it is plain that they must 
be prime concerns of any future student who essays to get at the 
inner spirit of the language. Its difference from standard Eng- 
lish is not merely a difference in vocabulary, to be disposed of 
in an alphabetical list ; it is, above all, a difference in pronuncia- 
tion, in intonation, in conjugation and declension, in metaphor 
and idiom, in the whole fashion of using words. A page from 
one of Ring W. Lardner's baseball stories contains few words 
that are not in the English vocabulary, and yet the thoroughly 
American color of it cannot fail to escape anyone who actually 
listens to the tongue spoken around him. Some of the elements 
which enter into that color will be considered in the following 
pages. The American vocabulary, of course, must be given 
first attention, for in it the earliest American divergences are 
embalmed and it tends to grow richer and freer year after year, 


but attention will also be paid to materials and ways of speech 
that are less obvious, and in particular to certain definite ten- 
dencies of the grammar of spoken American, hitherto wholly 

The Beginnings of American 


In Colonial Days William Gifford, the first editor of the 
Quarterly Review, is authority for the tale that some of the Puri- 
tan clergy of New England, during the Revolution, proposed 
that English be formally abandoned as the national language of 
America, and Hebrew adopted in its place. An American 
chronicler, Charles Astor Bristed, makes the proposed tongue 
Greek, and reports that the change was rejected on the ground 
that "it would be more convenient for us to keep the language 
as it is, and make the English speak Greek. ' ' x The story, 
though it has the support of the editors of the Cambridge His- 
tory of American Literature, 2 has an apocryphal smack ; one sus- 
pects that the savagely anti-American Gifford invented it. But, 
true or false, it well indicates the temper of those times. The 
passion for complete political independence of England bred a 
general hostility to all English authority, whatever its charac- 
ter, and that hostility, in the direction of present concern to us, 
culminated in the revolutionary attitude of Noah "Webster's 
"Dissertations on the English Language," printed in 1789. 
Webster harbored no fantastic notion of abandoning English 
altogether, but he was eager to set up American as a distinct 
and independent dialect. "Let us," he said, "seize the present 
moment, and establish a national language as well as a national 
government. ... As an independent nation our honor requires 

i Bristed was a grandson of John Jacob Astor and was educated at Cam- 
bridge. He contributed an extremely sagacious essay on The English 
Language in America to a volume of Cambridge Essays published by a 
group of young Cambridge men; London, 1855. 

* Vol. i, p. vi. 



us to have a system of our own, in language as well as govern- 
ment. ' ' 

Long before this the challenge had been flung. Scarcely two 
years after the Declaration of Independence Franklin was in- 
structed by Congress, on his appointment as minister to France, 
to employ ' ' the language of the United States, ' ' not simply Eng- 
lish, in all his ' ' replies or answers ' ' to the communications of the 
ministry of Louis XVI. And eight years before the Declara- 
tion Franklin himself had drawn up a characteristically Ameri- 
can scheme of spelling reform, and had offered plenty of proof 
in it, perhaps unconsciously, that the standards of spelling and 
pronunciation in the New World had already diverged notice- 
ably from those accepted on the other side of the ocean. 3 In 
acknowledging the dedication of Webster's " Dissertations " 
Franklin endorsed both his revolt against English domination 
and his forecast of widening differences in future, though pro- 
testing at the same time against certain Americanisms that have 
since come into good usage, and even migrated to England.* 

This protest was marked by Franklin's habitual mildness, but 
in other quarters dissent was voiced with far less urbanity. The 
growing independence of the colonial dialect, not only in its 
spoken form, but also in its most dignified written form, had 
begun, indeed, to attract the attention of purists in both Eng- 
land and America, and they sought to dispose of it in its infancy 
by force majeure. One of the first and most vigorous of the 
attacks upon it was delivered by John Witherspoon, a Scotch 
clergyman who came out in 1769 to be president of Princeton 
in partibus infidelium. This Witherspoon brought a Scotch 
hatred of the English with him, and at once became a leader of 
the party of independence; he signed the Declaration to the 
tune of much rhetoric, and was the only clergyman to sit in the 
Continental Congress. But in matters of learning he was ortho- 
dox to the point of hunkerousness, and the strange locutions that 

3 Scheme for a New Alphabet and a Reformed Mode of Spelling; Phila- 
delphia, 1768. 

* Dec. 26, 1789. The Works of B. Franklin, ed. by A. F. Smyth; New 
York, 1905, vol. i, p. 40. 


he encountered on all sides aroused his pedagogic ire. "I have 
heard in this country," he wrote in 1781, "in the senate, at the 
bar, and from the pulpit, and see daily in dissertations from 
the press, errors in grammar, improprieties and vulgarisms which 
hardly any person of the same class in point of rank and litera- 
ture would have fallen into in Great Britain." 5 It was Wither- 
spoon who coined the word Americanism and at once the Eng- 
lish guardians of the sacred vessels began employing it as a 
general synonym for vulgarism and barbarism. Another learned 
immigrant, the Rev. Jonathan Boucher, soon joined him. This 
Boucher was a friend of Washington, but was driven back to 
England by his Loyalist sentiments. He took revenge by print- 
ing various charges against the Americans, among them that of 
"making all the haste they can to rid themselves of the [Eng- 
lish] language." 

After the opening of the new century all the British reviews 
maintained an eager watchfulness for these abhorrent inven- 
tions, and denounced them, when found, .with the utmost ve- 
hemence. The Edinburgh, which led the charge, opened its 
attack in October, 1804, and the appearance of the five volumes 
of Chief Justice Marshall's "Life of George Washington," dur- 
ing the three years following, gave the signal for corrective 
articles in the British Critic, the Critical Review, the Annual, 
the Monthly and the Eclectic. The British Critic, in April, 
1808, admitted somewhat despairingly that the damage was 
already done that "the common speech of the United States 
has departed very considerably from the standard adopted in 
England." The others, however, sought to stay the flood by 
invective against Marshall and, later, against his rival biog- 
rapher, the Rev. Aaron Bancroft. The Annual, in 1808, pro- 
nounced its high curse and anathema upon ' ' that torrent of bar- 
barous phraseology" which was pouring across the Atlantic, 
and which threatened "to destroy the purity of the English 
language." 6 In Bancroft's "Life of George Washington" 

5 The Druid, No. 5 ; reprinted in Witherspoon's Collected Works, edited 
by Ashbel Green, vol. iv; New York, 1800-1. 

e Vide, in addition to the citations in the text, the British Critic, NOT. 




(1808), according to the British Critic, there were gross Ameri- 
canisms, inordinately offensive to Englishmen, "at almost every 
page. ' ' 

The Eev. Jeremy Belknap, long anticipating Elwyn, White 
and Lounsbury, tried to obtain a respite from this abuse by 
pointing out the obvious fact that many of the Americanisms 
under fire were merely survivors of an English that had become 
archaic in England, but this effort counted for little, for on the 
one hand the British purists enjoyed the chase too much to give 
it up, and on the other hand there began to dawn in America 
a new spirit of nationality, at first very faint, which viewed the 
differences objected to, not with shame, but with a fierce sort of 
pride. In the first volume of the North American Review Wil- 
liam Ellery Charming spoke out boldly for "the American lan- 
guage and literature, ' ' 7 and a year later Pickering published 
his defiant dictionary of "words and phrases which have been 
supposed to be peculiar to the United States." This thin col- 
lection of 500 specimens set off a dispute which yet rages on 
both sides of the Atlantic. Pickering, however, was undismayed. 
He had begun to notice the growing difference between the Eng- 
lish and American vocabulary and pronunciation, he said, while 
living in London from 1799 to 1801, and he had made his col- 
lections with the utmost care, and after taking counsel with 
various prudent authorities, both English and American. Al- 
ready in the first year of the century, he continued, the English 
had accused the people of the new republic of a deliberate "de- 
sign to effect an entire change in the language" and while no 

ch design was actually harbored, the facts were the facts, and 
he cited the current newspapers, the speeches from pulpit and 
rostrum, and Webster himself in support of them. This debate 
over Pickering's list, as I say, still continues. Lounsbury, en- 
trenched behind his grotesque categories, once charged that 
four-fifths of the words in it had ' ' no business to be there, ' ' and 

1793; Feb. 1810; the Critical Review, July 1807; Sept. 1809; the Monthly 
Review, May 1808; the Eclectic Review, Aug. 1813. 

i 1815, pp. 307-14; reprinted in his Remarks on National Literature, 
Boston, 1823. 


Gilbert M. Tucker 8 has argued that only 70 of them were genuine 
Americanisms. But a careful study of the list, in comparison 
with the early quotations recently collected by Thornton, seems 
to indicate that both of these judgments, and many others no 
less, have done injustice to Pickering. He made the usual er- 
rors of the pioneer, but his sound contributions to the subject 
were anything but inconsiderable, and it is impossible to forget 
his diligence and his constant shrewdness. He established firmly 
the native origin of a number of words now in universal use in 
America e. g., backwoodsman, breadstuffs, caucus, clapboard, 
sleigh and squatter and of such familiar derivatives as guber- 
natorial and dutiable, and he worked out the genesis of not a few 
loan-words, including prairie, scow, rapids, hominy and barbecue. 
It was not until 1848, when the first edition of Bartlett appeared, 
that his work was supplanted. 



Sources of Early Americanisms The first genuine American- 
isms were undoubtedly words borrowed bodily from the Indian 
dialects words, in the main, indicating natural objects that had 
no counterparts in England. We find opossum, for example, 
in the form of opasum, in Captain John Smith's "Map of Vir- 
ginia" (1612), and, in the form of apossoun, in a Virginia docu- 
ment two years older. Moose is almost as old. The word is 
borrowed from the Algonquin musa, and must have become fa- 
miliar to the Pilgrim Fathers soon after their landing in 1620, 
for the woods of Massachusetts then swarmed with the huge 
quadrupeds and there was no English name to designate them. 
Again, there are skunk (from the Abenaki Indian seganku,), 
hickory, squash, paw-paw, raccoon, chinkapin, porgy, chip- 
munk, pemmican, terrapin, menhaden, catalpa, persimmon and 
cougar. Of these, hickory and terrapin are to be found in Rob- 
ert Beverley's "History and Present State of Virginia" (1705), 
and squash, chinkapin and persimmon are in documents of the 
preceding century. Many of these words, of course, were short- 

8 American English, North American Review, April, 1883. 


ened or otherwise modified on being taken into colonial English. 
Thus chinkapin was originally checkinqumin, and squash appears 
in early documents as isquontersquash, askutasquash, isquonker- 
squash and squantersqiMsh. But William Penn, in a letter 
dated August 16, 1683, used the latter in its present form. Its 
variations show a familiar effort to bring a new and strange 
word into harmony with the language an effort arising from 
what philologists call the law of Hobson-Jobson. This name 
was given to it by Col. Henry Yule and A. C. Burnell, compilers 
of a standard dictionary of Anglo-Indian terms. They found 
that the British soldiers in India, hearing strange words from 
the lips of the natives, often converted them into English words 
of similar sound, though of widely different meaning. Thus 
the words Hassan and Hosein, frequently used by the Moham- 
medans of the country in their devotions, were turned into 
Hob son- Job son. The same process is constantly in operation 
elsewhere. By it the French route de roi has become Rotten 
Row in English, ecrevisse has become crayfish, and the English 
bowsprit has become beau pre (= beautiful meadow) in French. 
The word pigeon, in Pigeon English, offers another example ; it 
has no connection with the bird, but merely represents a China- 
man 's attempt to pronounce the word business. No doubt squash 
originated in the same way. That woodchuck did so is prac- 
tically certain. Its origin is to be sought, not in wood and 
chuck, but in the Cree word otchock, used by the Indians to 
designate the animal. 

In addition to the names of natural objects, the early colonists, 
of course, took over a great many Indian place-names, and a 
number of words to designate Indian relations and artificial ob- 
jects in Indian use. To the last division belong hominy, pone, 
toboggan, canoe, tapioca, moccasin, pow-wow, papoose, toma- 
hawk, wigwam, succotash and squaw, all of which were in com- 
mon circulation by the beginning of the eighteenth century. 
Finally, new words were made during the period by translating 
Indian terms, for example, war-path, war-paint, pale-face, medi- 
cine-man, pipe-of-peace and fire-water. The total number of 
such borrowings, direct and indirect, was a good deal larger 


than now appears, for with the disappearance of the red man 
the use of loan-words from his dialects has decreased. In our 
own time such words as papoose, sachem, tepee, wigwam and 
wampum have begun to drop out of everyday use ; 9 at an earlier 
period the language sloughed off ocelot, manitee, calumet, su- 
pawn, samp and quahaug, or began to degrade them to the estate 
of provincialisms. 10 A curious phenomenon is presented by the 
case of frnaize, which came into the colonial speech from some 
West Indian dialect, went o*ver into orthodox English, and from 
English into French, German and other continental languages, 
and was then abandoned by the colonists. We shall see other 
examples of that process later on. 

Whether or not Yankee comes from an Indian dialect is still 
disputed. An early authority, John G. E. Heckwelder, argued 
that it was derived from an Indian mispronunciation of the 
word English. 11 Certain later etymologists hold that it origi- 
nated more probably in an Indian mishandling of the French 
word Anglais. Yet others derive it from the Scotch yankie, 
meaning a gigantic falsehood. A fourth party derive it from 
the Dutch, and cite an alleged Dutch model for "Yankee Doo- 
dle," beginning "Tanker didee doodle down." 12 Of these 
theories that of Heckwelder is the most plausible. But here, 
as in other directions, the investigation of American etymology 
remains sadly incomplete. An elaborate dictionary of words 
derived from the Indian languages, compiled by the late W. R. 
Gerard, is in the possession of the Smithsonian Institution, but 
on account of a shortage of funds it remains in manuscript. 

9 A number of such Indian words are preserved in the nomenclature of 
Tammany Hall and in that of the Improved Order of Red Men, an organ- 
ization with more than 500,000 members. The Red Men, borrowing from 
the Indians, thus name the months, in order: Cold Moon, Snow, Worm, 
Plant, Flower, Hot, Buck, Sturgeon, Corn, Travelers', Beaver and Hunting. 
They call their officers incohonee, sachem, wampum-keeper, etc. But such 
terms, of course, are not in general use. 

10 A long list of such obsolete Americanisms is given by Clapin in his 

11 An Account of the History, Manners and Customs of the Indian Na- 
tions. . . .; Phila., 1818. 

12 Cf. Hans Brinker, by Mary Maples Dodge; New York, 1891. 


From the very earliest days of English colonization the lan- 
guage of the colonists also received accretions from the languages 
of the other colonizing nations. The French word portage, for 
example, was already in common use before the end of the sev- 
enteenth century, and soon after came chowder, cache, caribou, 
voyageur, and various words that, like the last-named, have 
since become localisms or disappeared altogether. Before 1750 
bureau, 13 gopher, batteati, bogus, and prairie were added, and 
caboose, a word of Dutch origin, seems to have come in through 
the French. Carry-all is also French in origin, despite its Eng- 
lish quality. It comes, by the law of Hobson-Jobson, from the 
French carriole. The contributions of the Dutch during the 
half century of their conflicts with the English included cruller, 
cold-slaw, dominie (for parson), cookey, stoop, span (of horses), 
pit (as in peach-pit), waffle, hook (a point of land), scow, boss, 
smearcase and Santa Glaus. 1 * Schele de Vere credits them with 
hay-barrack, a corruption of hooiberg. That they established 
the use of bush as a designation for back-country is very prob- 
able; the word has also got into South African English. In 
American it has produced a number of familiar derivatives, e. g., 
bush-whacker and bush-league. Barrere and Leland also credit 
the Dutch with dander, which is commonly assumed to be an 
American corruption of dandruff. They say that it is from the 
Dutch word donder (= thunder). Op donderen, in Dutch, 
means to burst into a sudden rage. The chief Spanish contri- 
butions to American were to come after the War of 1812, with 
the opening of the West, but Creole, calaboose, palmetto, peewee, 
key (a small island), quadroon, octoroon, barbecue, pickaninny 
and stampede had already entered the language in colonial days. 
Jerked beef came from the Spanish charqui by the law of Hob- 
son-Jobson. The Germans who arrived in Pennsylvania in 
1682 also undoubtedly gave a few words to the language, though 

13 (a) A chest of drawers, (b) a government office. In both senses the 
word is rare in English, though its use by the French is familiar. In the 
United States its use in (b) has been extended, e. g., in employment -bureau. 

i* From Sint-Klaas Saint Nicholas. Santa Glaus has also become fa- 
miliar to the English, but the Oxford Dictionary still calls the name an 


it is often difficult to distinguish their contributions from those 
of the Dutch. It seems very likely, however, that sauerkraut 16 
and noodle are to be credited to them. Finally, the negro slaves 
brought in gumbo, goober, juba and voodoo (usually corrupted 
to hoodoo), and probably helped to corrupt a number of other 
loan-words, for example banjo and breakdown. Banjo seems to 
be derived from bandore or bandurria, modern French and Span- 
ish forms of tambour, respectively. It may, however, be an 
actual negro word; there is a term of like meaning, bania, in 
Senegambian. Ware says that breakdown, designating a riotous 
negro dance, is a corruption of the French rigadon. The word 
is not in the Oxford Dictionary. Bartlett listed it as an Ameri- 
canism, but Thornton rejected it, apparently because, in the sense 
of a collapse, it has come into colloquial use in England. Its 
etymology is not given in the American dictionaries. 


New Words of English Material But of far more importance 
than these borrowings was the great stock of new words that the 
colonists coined in English metal words primarily demanded by 
the ' ' new circumstances under which they were placed, ' ' but also 
indicative, in more than one case, of a delight in the business for 
its own sake. The American, even in the early eighteenth cen- 
tury, already showed many of the characteristics that were to set 
him off from the Englishman later on his bold and somewhat 
grotesque imagination, his contempt for authority, his lack of 
aesthetic sensitiveness, his extravagant humor. Among the first 
colonists there were many men of education, culture and gentle 
birth, but they were soon swamped by hordes of the ignorant 
and illiterate, and the latter, cut off from the corrective influence 
of books, soon laid their hands upon the language. It is impos- 
sible to imagine the austere Puritan divines of Massachusetts 
inventing such verbs as to cowhide and to logroll, or such adjec- 
tives as no-account and stumped, or such adverbs as no-how and 

15 The spelling is variously sauerkraut, saurkraut, sourkraut and sour- 


lickety-split, or such substantives as bull-frog, hog-wallow and 
hoe-cake; but under their eyes there arose a contumacious prole- 
tariat which was quite capable of the business, and very eager 
for it. In Boston, so early as 1628, there was a definite class of 
blackguard roisterers, chiefly made up of sailors and artisans ; in 
Virginia, nearly a decade earlier, John Pory, secretary to Gov- 
ernor Yeardley, lamented that ' ' in these five moneths of my con- 
tinuance here there have come at one time or another eleven sails 
of ships into this river, but fraighted more with ignorance than 
with any other marchansize. ' ' In particular, the generation born 
in the New World was uncouth and iconoclastic ; 16 the only world 
it knew was a rough world, and the virtues that environment en- 
gendered were not those of niceness, but those of enterprise and 

Upon men of this sort fell the task of bringing the wilderness 
to the ax and the plow, and with it went the task of inventing a 
vocabulary for the special needs of the great adventure. Out of 
their loutish ingenuity came a great number of picturesque names 
for natural objects, chiefly boldly descriptive compounds: bull- 
frog, canvas-back, lightning-bug, mud-hen, cat-bird, razor-back, 
garter-snake, ground-hog and so on. And out of an inventive- 
ness somewhat more urbane came such coinages as live-oak, po- 
tato-bug, turkey -gobbler, poke-weed, copper-head, eel-grass, reed- 
bird, egg-plant, blue-grass, pea-nut, pitch-pine, ding-stone 
(peach), moccasin-snake, June-bug and butter-nut. Live-oak 
appears in a document of 1610 ; bull-frog was familiar to Bever- 
ley in 1705 ; so was James-Town weed (later reduced to Jimson 
weed, as the English hurtleberry or whortleberry was reduced to 
huckleberry}. These early Americans were not botanists. They 
were often ignorant of the names of the plants they encountered, 
even when those plants already had English names, and so they 
exercised their fancy upon new ones. So arose Johnny-jump-up 
for the Viola tricolor, and basswood for the common European 
linden or lime-tree (Tilia), and locust for the Robinia pseuda- 
cacia and its allies. The Jimson weed itself was anything but a 

16 Cf. The Cambridge History of American Literature, vol. i, pp. 14 and 


novelty, but the pioneers apparently did not recognize it, and so 
we find them ascribing all sorts of absurd medicinal powers to it, 
and even Beverley solemnly reporting that ' ' some Soldiers, eating 
it in a Salad, turn'd natural Fools upon it for several Days." 
The grosser features of the landscape got a lavish renaming, 
partly to distinguish new forms and partly out of an obvious 
desire to attain a more literal descriptiveness. I have mentioned 
key and hook, the one borrowed from the Spanish and the other 
from the Dutch. With them came run, branch, fork, bluff, 
(noun), neck, barrens, bottoms, underbrush, bottom-land, clear- 
ing, notch, divide, knob, riffle, gap, rolling-country and rapids, 17 
and the extension of pond from artificial pools to small natural 
lakes, and of creek from small arms of the sea to shallow feeders 
of rivers. Such common English geographical terms as downs, 
weald, wold, fen, bog, fell, chase, combe, dell, heath and moor 
disappeared from the colonial tongue, save as fossilized in a few 
proper names. So did bracken. 

With the new landscape came an entirely new mode of life 
new foods, new forms of habitation, new methods of agriculture, 
new kinds of hunting. A great swarm of neologisms thus arose, 
and, as in the previous case, they were chiefly compounds. 
Back-country, back-woods, back-woodsman, back-settlers, back- 
settlements: all these were in common use early in the eighteenth 
century. Back-log was used by Increase Mather in 1684. Log- 
house appears in the Maryland Archives for 1669. 18 Hoe-cake, 
Johnny-cake, pan-fish, corn-dodger, roasting-ear, corn-crib, corn- 
cob and pop-corn were all familiar before the Revolution. So 
were pine-knot, snow-plow, cold-snap, land-slide, salt-lick, 
prickly-heat, shell-road and cane-brake. Shingle was a novelty 
in 1705, but one S. Symonds wrote to John Winthrop, of Ipswich, 
about a clapboarded house in 1637. Frame-house seems to have 
come in with shingle. Trail, half-breed, Indian-summer and 

i 7 The American origin of this last word has been disputed, but th 
weieht of evidence seems to show that it was borrowed from the rapides of 
the French Canadians. It is familiar in the United States and Canada, but 
seldom met with in England. 

is Log-cabin came in later. Thornton's first quotation is dated 1818. 
The Log-Cabin campaign was in 1840. 


Indian-file were obviously suggested by the Red Men. State- 
house was borrowed, perhaps, from the Dutch. Selectman is first 
heard of in 1685, displacing the English alderman. Mush had 
displaced porridge by 1671. Soon afterward hay-stack took the 
place of the English hay-cock, and such common English terms as 
'byre, mews, weir, and wain began to disappear. Hired-^man is to 
be found in the Plymouth town records of 1737, and hired-girl 
followed soon after. So early as 1758, as we find by the diary of 
Nathaniel Ames, the second-year students at Harvard were al- 
ready called sophomores, though for a while the spelling was 
often made sophimores. Camp-meeting was later ; it did not ap- 
pear until 1799. But land-office was familiar before 1700, and 
side-walk, spelling -bee, bee-line, moss-back, crazy-quilt, mud- 
scow, stamping-ground and a hundred and one other such com- 
pounds were in daily use before the Revolution. After that 
great upheaval the new money of the confederation brought in a 
number of new words. In 1782 Gouverneur Morris proposed to 
the Continental Congress that the coins of the republic be called, 
in ascending order, unit, penny-bill, dollar and crown. Later 
Morris invented the word cent, substituting it for the English 
penny. 10 In 1785 Jefferson proposed mill, cent, dime, dollar and 
eagle, and this nomenclature was adopted. 

Various nautical terms peculiar to America, or taken into Eng- 
lish from American sources, came in during the eighteenth cen- 
tury, among them, schooner, cat-boat and pungy, not to recall 
batteau and canoe. According to a recent historian of the Amer- 
ican merchant marine, 20 the first schooner ever seen was launched 
at Gloucester, Mass., in 1713. The word, it appears, was orig- 
inally spelled scooner. To scoon was a verb borrowed by the 
New Englanders from some Scotch dialect, and meant to skim 
or skip across the water like a flat stone. As the first schooner 
left the ways and glided out into Gloucester harbor, an enrap- 
tured spectator shouted: "Oh, see how she scoons!" "A 
scooner let her be!" replied Captain Andrew Robinson, her 

is Theo. Roosevelt: Gouverneur Morris; Boston, 1888, p. 104. 
20 William Brown Meloney: The Heritage of Tyre; New York, 1916, p. 


builder and all boats of her peculiar and novel fore-and-aft rig 
took the name thereafter. The Dutch mariners borrowed the 
term and changed the spelling, and this change was soon accepted 
in America. The Scotch root came from the Norse skunna, to 
hasten, and there are analogues in Icelandic, Anglo-Saxon and 
Old High German. The origin of cat-boat and pungy I have 
been unable to determine. Perhaps the latter is related in some 
way to pung, a one-horse sled or wagon. Pung was once widely 
used in the United States, but of late it has sunk to the estate 
of a New England provincialism. Longfellow used it, and in 
1857 a writer in the Knickerbocker Magazine reported that pungs 
filled Broadway, in New York, after a snow-storm. 

Most of these new words, of course, produced derivatives, for 
example, to stack hay, to shingle, to shuck (i. e., corn), to trail 
and to caucus. Backwoods immediately begat backwoodsman 
and was itself turned into a common adjective. The colonists, 
indeed, showed a beautiful disregard of linguistic nicety. At 
an early date they shortened the English law-phrase, to convey 
by deed, to the simple verb, to deed. Pickering protested against 
this as a barbarism, and argued that no self-respecting law-writer 
would employ it, but all the same it was firmly entrenched in the 
common speech and it has remained there to this day. To table, 
for to lay on the table, came in at the same time, and so did 
various forms represented by bindery, for bookbinder's shop. To 
tomahawk appeared before 1650, and to scalp must have followed 
soon after. Within the next century and a half they were rein- 
forced by many other such new verbs, and by such adjectives 
made of nouns as no-account and one-horse, and such nouns made 
of verbs as carry-all and goner, and such adverbs as no-how. In 
particular, the manufacture of new verbs went on at a rapid 
pace. In his letter to Webster in 1789, Franklin denounced to 
advocate, to progress, and to oppose a vain enterprise, for all 
of them are now in perfectly good usage. To advocate, indeed, 
was used by Thomas Nashe in 1589, and by John Milton half a 
century later, but it seems to have been reinvented in America. 
In 1822 and again in 1838 Robert Southey, then poet laureate, 
led two belated attacks upon it, as a barbarous Americanism, but 


its obvious usefulness preserved it, and it remains in good usage 
on both sides of the Atlantic today one of the earliest of the 
English borrowings from America. In the end, indeed, even so 
ardent a purist as Richard Grant White adopted it, as he did 
to placate. 21 

Webster, though he agreed with Franklin in opposing to advo- 
cate, gave his imprimatur to to appreciate (i. e., to rise in value), 
and is credited by Sir Charles Lyell 22 with having himself in- 
vented to demoralize. He also approved to obligate. To antago- 
nize seems to have been given currency by John Quincy Adams, 
to immigrate by John Marshall, to eventuate by Gouverneur 
Morris, and to derange by George Washington. Jefferson, al- 
ways hospitable to new words, used to belittle in his "Notes on 
Virginia," and Thornton thinks that he coined it. Many new 
verbs were made by the simple process of prefixing the preposi- 
tion to common nouns, e. g., to clerk, to dicker, to dump, to Now, 
(i. e., to bluster or boast), to cord (i. e., wood) to stump, to room 
and to shin. Others were made by transforming verbs in the 
orthodox vocabulary, e. g., to cavort from to curvet, and to snoop 
from to snook. Others arose as metaphors, e. g., to whitewash 
(figuratively) and to squat (on unoccupied land). Others were 
made by hitching suffixes to nouns, e. g., to negative, to deputize, 
to locate, to legislate, to infract, to compromit and to happify. 
Yet others seem to have been produced by onomatopoeia, e. g., 
to fizzle, or to have arisen by some other such spontaneous process, 
so far unintelligible, e. g., to tote. With them came an endless 
series of verb-phrases, e. g., to draw a bead, to face the music, 
to darken one's doors, to take to the woods, to fly off the handle, 
to go on the war-path and to saw wood all obvious products of 
frontier life. Many coinages of the pre-Revolutionary era later 
disappeared. Jefferson used to ambition but it dropped out 
nevertheless, and so did to compromit, (i. e., to compromise), to 
homologize, and to happify. Fierce battles raged 'round some of 
these words, and they were all violently derided in England. 
Even so useful a verb as to locate, now in perfectly good usage, 

21 Vide his preface to Every-Day English, pp. xxi and xv, respectively. 

22 Vide LyelFs Travels in North America; London, 1845. 


was denounced in the third volume of the North American Re- 
view, and other purists of the times tried to put down to legis- 

The young and tender adjectives had quite as hard a row to 
hoe, particularly lengthy. The British Critic attacked it in No- 
vember, 1793, and it also had enemies at home, but John Adams 
had used it in his diary in 1759 and the authority of Jefferson 
and Hamilton was behind it, and so it survived. Years later 
James Russell Lowell spoke of it as "the excellent adjective," 23 
and boasted that American had given it to English. Dutiable 
also met with opposition, and moreover, it had a rival, custom- 
able; but Marshall wrote it into his historic decisions, and thus 
it took root. The same anonymous watchman of the North 
American Review who protested against to locate pronounced his 
anathema upon "such barbarous terms as presidential and con- 
gressional," but the plain need for them kept them in the lan- 
guage. Gubernatorial had come in long before this, and is to 
be found in the New Jersey Archives of 1734. Influential was 
denounced by the Rev. Jonathan Boucher and by George Can- 
ning, who argued that influent was better, but it was ardently 
defended by William Pinkney, of Maryland, and gradually made 
its way. Handy, kinky, law-abiding, chunky, solid (in the sense 
of well-to-SoJ^evincive, complected, judgmatical, underpinned, 
blooded and cute were also already secure in revolutionary days. 
So with many nouns. Jefferson used breadstuff s in his Report 
of the Secretary of State on Commercial Restrictions, December 
16, 1793. Balance, in the sense of remainder, got into the de- 
bates of the First Congress. Mileage was used by Franklin in 
1754, and is now sound English. Elevator, in the sense of a 
storage house for grain, was used by Jefferson and by others 
before him. Draw, for drawbridge, comes down from Revolu- 
tionary days. So does slip, in the sense of a berth for vessels. 
So does addition, in the sense of a suburb. So, finally, does 

The history of many of these Americanisms shows how vain is 
the effort of grammarians to combat the normal processes of lan- 

23 Pref. to the Biglow Papers, 2nd series, 1866. 


guage development. I have mentioned the early opposition to 
dutiable, influential, presidential, lengthy, to locate, to oppose, to 
advocate, to legislate and to progress. Bogus, reliable and stand- 
point were attacked with the same academic ferocity. All of 
them are to be found in Bryant's Index Expurgatorius 2 * (circa 
1870), and reliable was denounced by Bishop Coxe as "that abom- 
inable barbarism" so late as 1886. 25 Edward S. Gould, another 
uncompromising purist, said of standpoint that it was "the 
bright particular star ... of solemn philological blundering" 
and "the very counterpart of Dogberry's non-com." 2B Gould 
also protested against to jeopardize, leniency and to demean, 
and Richard Grant White joined him in an onslaught upon to 
donate. But all of these words are in good use in the United 
States today, and some of them have gone over into English. 27 


Changed Meanings A number of the foregoing contributions 
to the American vocabulary, of course, were simply common 
English words with changed meanings. To squat, in the sense of 
to crouch, had been sound English for centuries; what the col- 
onists did was to attach a figurative meaning to it, and then bring 
that figurative meaning into wider usage than the literal mean- 
ing. In a somewhat similar manner they changed the signifi- 
cance of pond, as I have pointed out. So, too, with creek.- In 
English it designated (and still designates) a small inlet or arm 
of a large river or of the sea; in American, so early as 1674, it 
designated any small stream. Many other such changed 'mean- 
ings crept into American in the early days. A typical one was 
the use of lot to designate a parcel of land. Thornton says, per- 
haps inaccurately, that it originated in the fact that the land in 

ew England was distributed by lot. "Whatever the truth, lot, 


2* Reprinted in Helpful Hints in Writing and Reading, comp. by Grenville 
Kleiser; New York, 1911, pp. 15-17. 

25 A. Cleveland Coxe: Americanisms in England, Forum, Oct., 1886. 

26 Edwin S. Gould: Good English, or, Popular Errors in Language: 
New York, 1867; pp. 25-27. 

27 Cf. Ch. I, 5, and Ch. V, 1. 


to this day, is in almost universal use in the United States, though 
rare in England. Our conveyancers, in describing real prop- 
erty, always speak of ' ' all that lot or parcel of land. ' ' 28 Other 
examples of the application of old words to new purposes are 
afforded by freshet, barn and team. A freshet, in eighteenth 
century English, meant any stream of fresh water; the colonists 
made it signify an inundation. A barn was a house or shed for 
storing crops ; in the colonies the word came to mean a place for 
keeping cattle also. A team, in English, was a pair of draft 
horses ; in the colonies it came to mean both horses and vehicle. 

The process is even more clearly shown in the history of such 
words as corn and shoe. Corn, in orthodox English, means grain 
for human consumption, and especially wheat, e. g., the Corn 
Laws. The earliest settlers, following this usage, gave the name 
of Indian corn to what the Spaniards, following the Indians 
themselves, had called maiz. But gradually the adjective fell 
off, and by the middle of the eighteenth century maize was called 
simply corn, and grains in general were called breadstuff 's. 
Thomas Hutchinson, discoursing to George III in 1774, used, corn 
in this restricted sense, speaking of "rye and corn mixed." 
"What cornf" asked George. "Indian corn," explained Hutch- 
inson, "or, as it is called in authors, maize." 29 So with shoe. 
In English it meant (and still means) a topless article of foot- 
wear, but the colonists extended its meaning to varieties covering 
the ankle, thus displacing the English boot, which they reserved 
I for foot coverings reaching at least to the knee. To designate 
| the English shoe they began to use the word slipper. This dis- 
f tinction between English and American usage still prevails, de- 
< spite the affectation which has lately sought to revive boot, and 
with it its derivatives, boot-shop and bootmaker. 

Store, shop, lumber, pie, dry-goods, cracker, rock and partridge 
among nouns and to haul, to jew, to notify and to heft among 
verbs offer further examples of changed meanings. Down to the 

2*Lott appears in the Connecticut Code of 1650. Vide the edition of 
Andrus; Hartford, 1822. On page 35 is "their landes, lotts and accom- 
modations." On page 46 is "meadow and home lotts." 

2 Vide Hutchinson's Diary, vol. i, p. 171; London, 1883-6. 


middle of the eighteenth century shop continued to designate a 
retail establishment in America, as it does in England to this 
day. Store was applied only to a large establishment one show- 
ing, in some measure, the character of a warehouse. But in 1774 
a Boston young man was advertising in the Massachusetts Spy 
for "a place as a clerk in a store" (three Americanisms in a 
row!). Soon afterward shop began to acquire its special Ameri- 
can meaning as a factory, e. g., machine-shop. Meanwhile store 
completely displaced shop in the English sense, and it remained 
for a late flowering of Anglomania, as in the case of boot and 
shoe, to restore, in a measure, the status quo ante. Lumber, in 
eighteenth century English, meant disused furniture, and this is 
its common meaning in England today. But the colonists early 
employed it to designate timber, and that use of it is now uni- 
versal in America. Its familiar derivatives, e. g., lumber-yard, 
lumberman, lumberjack, greatly reinforce this usage. Pie, in 
English, means a meat-pie; in American it means a fruit-pie. 
The English call a fruit-pie a tart; the Americans call a meat- 
pie a pot-pie. Dry-goods, in England, means " non-liquid goods, 
as corn" (i.e., wheat); in the United States the term means 
"textile fabrics or wares." 30 The difference had appeared be- 
fore 1725. Rock, in English, always means a large mass; in 
America it may mean a small stone, as in rock-pile and to throw 
a rock. The Puritans were putting rocks into the foundations 
of their meeting-houses so early as 1712. 31 Cracker began to be 
used for biscuit before the Revolution. Tavern displaced inn at 
the same time. As for partridge, it is cited by a late authority 32 
as a salient example of changed meaning, along with corn and 
store. In England the term is applied only to the true partridge 
(Perdix perdix) and its nearly related varieties, but in the United 
States it is also used to designate the ruffed grouse (Bonasa 
umbellus), the common quail (Colinus virginianus) and various 

30 The definitions are from the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current Eng- 
lish (1914) and the Standard Dictionary (1906), respectively. 

si S. Sewall: Diary, April 14, 1712: "I lay'd a Rock in the North-east 
corner of the Foundation of the Meeting-house." 

32 The Americana, . . . art . Americanisms : New York, 1903-6. 


other tetraonoid birds. This confusion goes back to colonial 
times. So with rabbit. Properly speaking, there are no native 
rabbits in the United States; they are all hares. But the early 
colonists, for some unknown reason, dropped the word hare out 
of their vocabulary, and it is rarely heard in American speech 
to this day. When it appears it is almost always applied to the 
so-called Belgian hare, which, curiously enough, is not a hare at 
all, but a true rabbit. 

To haul, in English, means to move by force or violence; in 
the colonies it came to mean to transport in a vehicle, and this 
meaning survives in sound American. To jew, in English, means 
to cheat ; the colonists made it mean to haggle, and devised to jew 
down to indicate an effort to work a reduction in price. To heft, 
in English, means to lift; the early Americans made it mean to 
weigh by lifting, and kept the idea of weighing in its derivatives, 
e.g., hefty. Finally, there is the familiar American misuse of 
Miss or Mis' for Mrs.. It was so widespread by 1790 that on 
November 17 of that year Webster solemnly denounced it in the 
American Mercury. 


Archaic English Words Most of the colonists who lived along 
the American seaboard in 1750 were the descendants of immi- 
grants who had come in fully a century before; after the first 
settlements there had been much less fresh immigration than 
many latter-day writers have assumed. According to Prescott 
F. Hall, "the population of New England ... at the date of 
the Revolutionary War . . . was produced out of an immigra- 
tion of about 20,000 persons who arrived before 1640," 33 and we 
have Franklin's authority for the statement that the total popu- 
lation of the colonies in 1751, then about 1,000,000, had been 

33 Immigration, 2nd ed.; New York, 1913, p. 4. Sir J. R. Seeley says, 
in The Expansion of England (2nd ed.; London, 1895, p. 84) that the 
emigration from England to New England, after the meeting of the Long 
Parliament (1640), was so slight for a full century that it barely balanced 
"the counter-movement of colonists quitting the colony." Richard Hil- 
dreth, in his History of the United States, vol. i, p. 267, says that the 
departures actually exceeded the arrivals. 


produced from an original immigration of less than 80,000. 34 
Even at that early day, indeed, the colonists had begun to feel 
that they were distinctly separated, in culture and customs, from 
the mother-country, 35 and there were signs of the rise of a new 
native aristocracy, entirely distinct from the older aristocracy of 
the royal governors' courts. 36 The enormous difficulties of com- 
munication with England helped to foster this sense of separa- 
tion. The round trip across the ocean occupied the better part 
of a year, and was hazardous and expensive ; a colonist who had 
made it was a marked man, as Hawthorne said, "the petit- 
maitre of the colonies." Nor was there any very extensive ex- 
change of ideas, for though most of the books read in the colonies 
came from England, the great majority of the colonists, down to 
the middle of the century, seem to have read little save the Bible 
and biblical commentaries, and in the native literature of the 
time one seldom comes upon any reference to the English authors 
who were glorifying the period of the Restoration and the reign 
of Anne. Moreover, after 1760 the colonial eyes were upon 
France rather than upon England, and Rousseau, Montesquieu, 
Voltaire and the Encyclopedists began to be familiar names to 
thousands who were scarcely aware of Addison and Steele, or 
even of the great Elizabethans. 37 

The result of this isolation, on the one hand, was that prolifera- 
tion of the colonial speech which I have briefly reviewed, and on 
the other hand, the preservation of many words and phrases that 
gradually became obsolete in England. The Pilgrims of 1620 
brought over with them the English of James I and the Revised 

34 Works, ed. by Sparks: vol. ii, p. 319. 

85 Cf. Pehr Kalm: Travels into N. America, tr. by J. R. Forster, 3 vols. ; 
London, 1770-71. 

36 Sydney George Fisher : The True Story of the American Revolution ; 
Phila. and London, 1902, p. 27. See also John T. Morse's Life of Thomas 
Jefferson in the American Statesmen series (Boston and New York, 1898), 
p. 2. Morse points out that Washington, Jefferson and Madison belonged 
to this new aristocracy, not to the old one. 

ST Cf. the Cambridge History of American Literature, vol. i, p. 119. 
Francis Jeffrey, writing on Franklin in the Edinburgh Review for July, 
1806, hailed him as a prodigy who had arisen "in a society where there 
was no relish and no encouragement for literature." 


Version, and their descendants of a century later, inheriting it, 
allowed its fundamentals to be little changed by the academic 
overhauling that the mother tongue was put to during the early 
part of the eighteenth century. In part they were ignorant of 
this overhauling, and in part they were indifferent to it. When- 
ever the new usage differed from that of the Bible they were in- 
clined to remain faithful to the Bible, not only because of its 
pious authority but also because of the superior pull of its immi- 
nent and constant presence. Thus when an artificial prudery in 
English ordered the abandonment of the Anglo-Saxon sick for 
the Gothic ill, the colonies refused to follow, for sick was in both 
the Old Testament and the New ; 38 and that refusal remains in 
force to this day. 

A very large number of words and phrases, many of them now 
exclusively American, are similar survivals from the English of 
the seventeenth century, long since obsolete or merely provincial 
in England. Among nouns Thornton notes fox-fire, flap-jack, 
jeans, molasses, beef (to designate the live animal), chinch, cord- 
wood, homespun, ice-cream, julep and swingle-tree; Halliwell 39 
adds andiron, bay-window, cesspool, clodhopper, cross-purposes, 
greenhorn, loophole, ragamuffin, riff-raff, rigmarole and trash; 
and other authorities cite stock (for cattle), fall (for autumn), 
offal, din, underpinning and adze. Bub, used in addressing a 
boy, is very old English, but survives only in American. Flap- 
jack goes back to Piers Plowman, but has been obsolete in Eng- 
land for two centuries. Muss, in the sense of a row, is also obso- 
lete over there, but it is to be found in "Anthony and Cleopatra. ' ' 
Char, as a noun, disappeared from English a long time ago, but 
it survives in American as chore. Among the adjectives similarly 
preserved are to whittle, to wilt and to approbate. To guess, in 
the American sense of to suppose, is to be found in "Henry 

38 Examples of its use in the American sense, considered vulgar and even 
indecent in England, are to be found in Gen. xlviii, 1; II Kings viii, 7; 
John xi, 1, and Acts ix, 37. 

39 J. 0. Halliwell (Phillips) : A Dictionary of Archaisms and Provincial- 
isms, Containing Words now Obsolete in England All of Which are Familiar 
and in Common Use in America, 2nd ed.; London, 1850. 


ient. I - 
un- \ 

loiTl_ * 


Not all together; better far, I guess, 

That we do make our entrance several ways. 

In "Measure for Measure" Escalus says "I guess not" to 
Angelo. The New English Dictionary offers examples much 
older from Chaucer, Wyclif and Gower. To interview is in 
Dekker. To loan, in the American sense of to lend, is in 34 and 
35 Henry VlTffTmt it dropped out of use in England early in 
the eighteenth century, and all the leading dictionaries, both 
English and American, now call it an Americanism. 40 To fel- 
lowship, once in good American use but now reduced to a pro- 
vincialism, is in Chaucer. Even to hustle, it appears, is ancient 
Among adjectives, homely, which means only homelike or 
adorned in England, was used in its American sense of plain- 
featured by both Shakespeare and Milton. Other such sur- 
vivors are burly, catty-cornered, likely, deft, copious, scant and 
ornate. Perhaps clever also belongs to this category, tnat is, in 
the American sense of amiable. 

' ' Our ancestors, ' ' said James Russell Lowell, ' ' unhappily could 
bring over no English better than Shakespeare's."' Shake- 
speare died in 1616; the Pilgrims landed four years later; 
Jamestown was founded in 1607. As we have seen, the colonists, 
saving a few' superior leaders, were men of small sensitiveness 
to the refinements of life and speech : soldiers of fortune, amateur 
theologians, younger sons, neighborhood "advanced thinkers," 
bankrupts, jobless workmen, decayed gentry, and other such 
fugitives from culture in brief, Philistines of the sort who join 
tin-pot fraternal orders today, and march in parades, and whoop 
for the latest mountebanks in politics. There was thus a touch 
of rhetoric in Lowell's saying that they spoke the English of 
Shakespeare; as well argue that the London grocers of 1885 
spoke the English of Pater. But in a larger sense he said truly, 
for these men at least brought with them the vocabulary of 
Shakespeare or a part of it, even if the uses he made of it 
were beyond their comprehension, and they also brought with 

40 An interesting discussion of this verb appeared in the New York 8un, 
Nov. 27, 1914. 


them that sense of ease in the language, that fine disdain for 
formality, that bold experimentalizing in words, which was so 
peculiarly Elizabethan. There were no grammarians in that 
day; there were no purists that anyone listened to; it was a 
case of saying your say in the easiest and most satisfying way. 
In remote parts of the United States there are still direct and 
almost pure-blooded descendants of those seventeenth century 
colonists. Go among them, and you will hear more words from 
the Shakespearean vocabulary, still alive and in common serv- 
ice, than anywhere else in the world, and more of the loose and 
brilliant syntax of that time, and more of its gipsy phrases. 41 


Colonial Pronunciation The debate that long raged over the 
pronunciation of classical Latin exhibits the difficulty of de- 
termining with exactness the shades of sound in the speech of 
a people long departed from earth. The American colonists, 
of course, are much nearer to us than the Romans, and so we 
should have relatively little difficulty in determining just how 
they pronounced this or that word, but against the fact of their 
nearness stands the neglect of our philologists, or, perhaps more 
accurately, our lack of philologists. What Sweet did to clear 
up the history of English pronunciation, 42 and what Wilhelm 
Corssen did for Latin, no American professor has yet thought 
to attempt for American. The literature is almost, if not quite 
a blank. But here and there we may get a hint of the facts, and 
though the sum of them is not large, they at least serve to set 
at rest a number of popular errors. 

One of these errors, chiefly prevalent in New England, is 
that the so-called Boston pronunciation, with its broad a's (mak- 
ing last, path and aunt almost assonant with 6ar) comes down 
unbrokenly from the day of the first settlements, and that it is 
in consequence superior in authority to the pronunciation of the 

i Cf. J. H. Combs : Old, Early and Elizabethan English in the Southern 
Mountains, Dialect Notes, vol. iv, pt. iv, pp. 283-97. 

Henry Sweet: A History of English Sounds; London, 1876; Oxford, 


rest of the country, with its flat a's (making the same words 
assonant with ban). A glance through Webster's "Disserta- 
tions" is sufficient to show that the flat a was in use in New 
England in 1789, for the pronunciation of such words as wrath, 
bath and path, as given by him, makes them rhyme with hath. 43 
Moreover, he gives aunt the same a-sound. From other sources 
come indications that the a was likewise flattened in such words 
as plant, basket, branch, dance, blast, command and castle, and 
even in balm and calm. Changes in the sound of the letter have 
been going on in English ever since the Middle English period, 44 
and according to Lounsbury 45 they have moved toward the dis- 
appearance of the Continental a, "the fundamental vowel-tone 
of the human voice." Grandgent, another authority, 46 says 
that it became flattened "by the sixteenth century" and that 
"until 1780 or thereabouts the standard language had no broad 
a." Even in such words as father, car and ask the flat a was 
universally used. Sheridan, in the dictionary he published in 
1780, 47 actually gave no a/i-sound in his list of vowels. This 
habit of flatting the a had been brought over, of course, by the 
early colonists, and was as general in America, in the third 
quarter of the eighteenth century, as in England. Benjamin 
Franklin, when he wrote his ' ' Scheme for a New Alphabet and 
a Reformed Mode of Spelling," in 1768, apparently had no sus- 
picion that any other a was possible. But between 1780 and 
1790, according to Grandgent, a sudden fashion for the broad a 
(not the aw-sound, as in fall, but the Continental sound as in 
far) arose in England, 48 and this fashion soon found servile 
imitation in Boston. But it was as much an affectation in those 

43 p. 124. 

44 Cf. Art. Changes in the Language Since Shakespeare's Time, by W. 
Murison, in The Cambridge History of English Literature, vol. xiv, p. 

45 English Spelling and Spelling Reform; New York, 1909. 

46 C. H. Grandgent: Fashion and the Broad A, Nation, Jan. 7, 1915. 

4T Thomas Sheridan : A Complete Dictionary of the English Language ; 
London, 1780. 

48 It first appeared in Robert Nares' Elements of Orthography; London, 
1784. In 1791 it received full approbation in John Walker's Critical Pro- 
nouncing Dictionary. 


days as it is today, and "Webster indicated the fact pretty plainly 
in his "Dissertations." How, despite his opposition, the broad 
a prevailed East of the Connecticut river, and how, in the end, 
he himself yielded to it, and even tried to force it upon the 
whole nation this will be rehearsed in the next chapter. 

The colonists remained faithful much longer than the Eng- 
lish to various other vowel-sounds that were facing change in 
the eighteenth century, for example, the long e-sound in heard. 
Webster says that the custom of rhyming heard with bird in- 
stead of with feared came in at the beginning of the Kevolu- 
tion. ' ' To most people in this country, ' ' he adds, ' ' the English 
pronunciation appears like affectation." He also argues for 
rhyming deaf with leaf, and protests against inserting a ^/-sound 
before the u in such words as nature. Franklin's authority 
stands behind git for get. This pronunciation, according to 
Menner, 49 was correct in seventeenth century England, and per- 
haps down to the middle of the next century. So was the use 
of the Continental i-sound in oblige, making it obleege. It is 
probable that the colonists clung to these disappearing usages 
much longer than the English. The latter, according to Web- 
ster, were unduly responsive to illogical fashions set by the 
exquisites of the court and by popular actors. He blames Gar- 
rick, in particular, for many extravagant innovations, most of 
them not followed in the colonies. But Garrick was surely not 
responsible for the use of a long *-sound in such words as motive, 
nor for the corruption of mercy to marcy. Webster denounced 
both of these barbarisms. The second he ascribed somewhat 
lamely to the fact that the letter r is called ar, and proposed to 
dispose of it by changing the ar to er. 

As for the consonants, the colonists seem to have resisted 
valiantly that tendency to slide over them which arose in Eng- 
land after the Restoration. Franklin, in 1768, still retained the 
sound of I in such words as would and should, a usage not met 
with in England after the year 1700. In the same way, accord- 
ing to Menner, the w in sword was sounded in America "for 

Robert J. Menner; The Pronunciation of English in America, Atlantic 
Monthly, March, 1915. 


some time after Englishmen had abandoned it." The sensitive 
ear of Henry James detected an unpleasant r-sound in the 
speech of Americans, long ago got rid of by the English, so 
late as 1905; he even charged that it was inserted gratuitously 
in innocent words. 50 The obvious slurring of the consonants by 
Southerners is explained by a recent investigator 51 on the ground 
that it began in England during the reign of Charles II, and 
that most of the\ Southern colonists came to the New World 
at that time. The court of Charles, it is argued, was under 
French influence, due to the king 's long residence in France and 
his marriage to Henrietta Marie. Charles "objected to the in- 
harmonious contractions will'nt (or wolln't) and wasn't and 
weren't . . . and set the fashion of using the softly euphonious 
won't and wan't, which are used in speaking to this day by the 
best class of Southerners." A more direct French influence 
upon Southern pronunciation is also pointed out. "With full 
knowledge of his g's and his r's, . . . [the Southerner] sees fit 
to glide over them, . . . and he carries over the consonant end- 
ing one word to the vowel beginning the next, just as the French- 
man does. ' ' The political importance of the South, in the years 
between the Mecklenburg Declaration and the adoption of the 
Constitution, tended to force its provincialisms upon the com- 
mon language. Many of the acknowledged leaders of the nascent 
nation were Southerners, and their pronunciation, as well as 
their phrases, must have become familiar everywhere. Picker- 
ing gives us a hint, indeed, at the process whereby their usage 
influenced that of the rest of the people. 52 

The Americans early dropped the /i-sound in such words as 
when and where, but so far as I can determine they never elided 
it at the beginning of words, save in the case of herb, and a few 
others. This elision is commonly spoken of as a cockney vulgar- 
ism, but it has extended to the orthodox English speech. In 
ostler the initial h is openly left off; in hotel and hospital it is 

so The Question of Our Speech; Boston and New York, 1906, pp. 27-29. 

si Elizabeth H. Hancock: Southern Speech, Neale's Monthly, Nov., 1913, 
pp. 606-7. 

52 Vide his remarks on balance in his Vocabulary. See also Marsh, p. 


seldom sounded, even by the most careful Englishmen. Cer- 
tain English words in h, in which the h is now sounded, betray 
its former silence by the fact that not a but an is still put before 
them. It is still good English usage to write an hotel and an 
historical; it is the American usage to write a hotel and a his- 

The great authority of "Webster was sufficient to establish the 
American pronunciation of schedule. In England the sch is 
always given the soft sound, but Webster decided for the hard 
sound, as in scheme. The variance persists to this day. The 
name of the last letter of the alphabet, which is always zed in 
English, is usually made__see_in the United States. Thornton 
shows that this Americanism arose in the eighteenth century. 


The Period of Growth 

The New Nation The American language thus began to be 
recognizably differentiated from English in both vocabulary and 
pronunciation by the opening of the nineteenth century, but as 
yet its growth was hampered by two factors, the first being the 
lack of a national literature of any pretentious and the second 
being an internal political disharmony which greatly condi- 
tioned and enfeebled the national consciousness. During the 
actual Revolution common aims and common dangers forced 
the Americans to show a united front, but once they had 
achieved political independence they developed conflicting in- 
terests, and out of those conflicting interests came suspicions and 
hatreds which came near wrecking the new confederation more 
than once. Politically, their worst weakness, perhaps, was an 
inability to detach themselves wholly from the struggle for domi- 
nation still going on in Europe. The surviving Loyalists of 
the revolutionary era estimated by some authorities to have 
constituted fully a third of the total population in 1776 were 
ardently in favor of England, and such patriots as Jefferson 
were as ardently in favor of France. This engrossment in the 
quarrels of foreign nations was what Washington warned against 
in his Farewell Address. It was at the bottom of such bitter 
animosities as that between Jefferson and Hamilton. It in- 
spired and perhaps excused the pessimism of such men as Burr. 
Its net effect was to make it difficult for the people of the new 
nation to think of themselves, politically, as Americans. Their 
state of mind, vacillating, uncertain, alternately timorous and 



pugnacious, has been well described by Henry Cabot Lodge in 
his essay on ' ' Colonialism in America. ' ' 1 Soon after the Treaty 
of Paris was signed, someone referred to the late struggle, in 
Franklin's hearing, as the War for Independence. "Say, 
rather, the War of the Revolution," said Franklin. "The War 
for Independence is yet to be fought. ' ' 

"That struggle," adds Lossing, "occurred, and that inde- 
pendence was won, by the Americans in the War of 1812. ' ' 2 
In the interval the new republic had passed through a period of 
Sturm und Drang whose gigantic perils and passions we have 
begun to forget a period in which disaster ever menaced, and 
the foes within were no less bold and pertinacious than the foes 
without. Jefferson, perhaps, carried his fear of ' ' monocrats ' ' to 
the point of monomania, but under it there was undoubtedly a 
body of sound fact. The poor debtor class (including probably 
a majority of the veterans of the Revolution) had been fired by 
the facile doctrines of the French Revolution to demands which 
threatened the country with bankruptcy and anarchy, and the 
class of property-owners, in reaction, went far to the other ex- 
treme. On all sides, indeed, there flourished a strong British 
party, and particularly in New England, where the so-called 
codfish aristocracy (by no means extinct, even today) exhibited 
an undisguised Anglomania, and looked forward confidently to 
a rapprochement with the mother country. 3 This Anglomania 
showed itself, not only in ceaseless political agitation, but also 
in an elaborate imitation of English manners. We have already 
seen, on Noah Webster's authority, how it even extended to the 
pronunciation of the language. 

The first sign of the dawn of a new national order came 
with the election of Thomas Jefferson to the Presidency in 1800. 
The issue in the campaign was a highly complex one, but under 
it lay a plain conflict between democratic independence and the 

1 In Studies in History ; Boston, 1884. 

2 Benson J. Lossing: Our Country. . . .; New Yorkj 1879. 

3 The thing went, indeed, far beyond mere hope. In 1812 a conspiracy 
was unearthed to separate New England from the republic and make it 
an English colony. The chief conspirator was one John Henry, who acted 
under the instructions of Sir John Craig, Governor-General of Canada. 


old doctrine of dependence and authority; and with the Alien 
and Sedition Laws about his neck, so vividly reminiscent of the 
issues of the Revolution itself, Adams went down to defeat. 
Jefferson was violently anti-British and pro-French; he saw all 
the schemes of his political opponents, indeed, as English plots ; 
he was the man who introduced the bugaboo into American poli- 
tics. His first acts after his inauguration were to abolish all 
ceremonial at the court of the republic, and to abandon spoken 
discourses to Congress for written messages. That ceremonial, 
which grew up under Washington, was an imitation, he be- 
lieved, of the formality of the abhorrent Court of St. James; 
as for the speeches to Congress, they were palpably modelled 
upon the speeches from the throne of the English kings. Both * 
reforms met with wide approval; the exactions of the English, 
particularly on the high seas, were beginning to break up the 
British party. But confidence in the solidarity and security 
of the new nation was still anything but universal. The sur- 
viving doubts, indeed, were strong enough to delay the ratifica- 
tion of the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution, providing 
for more direct elections of President and Vice-President, until 
the end of 1804, and even then three of the five New England 
states rejected it, 4 and have never ratified it, in fact, to this 
day. Democracy was still experimental, doubtful, full of gun- 
powder. In so far as it had actually come into being, it had 
come as a boon conferred from above. Jefferson, its protag- 
onist, was the hero of the populace, but he was not of the popu- 
lace himself, nor did he ever quite trust it. 

It was reserved for Andrew Jackson, a man genuinely of the 
people, to lead and visualize the rise of the lower orders. Jack- 
son, in his way, was the archetype of the new American igno- 
rant, pushful, impatient of restraint and precedent, an icono- 
clast, a Philistine, an Anglophobe in every fibre. He came 
from the extreme backwoods and his youth was passed amid 
surroundings but little removed from downright savagery. 6 

* Maine was not separated from Massachusetts until 1820. 
s Vide Andrew Jackson. . . ., by William Graham Sumner; Boston, 1883, 
pp. 2-10. 


Thousands of other young Americans like him were growing up 
at the same time youngsters filled with a vast impatience of all 
precedent and authority, revilers of all that had come down 
from an elder day, incorrigible libertarians. They swarmed 
across the mountains and down the great rivers, wrestling with 
the naked wilderness and setting up a casual, impromptu sort 
of civilization where the Indian still menaced. Schools were 
few and rudimentary; there was not the remotest approach to 
a cultivated society; any effort to mimic the amenities of the 
East, or of the mother country, in manner or even in speech, 
met with instant derision. It was in these surroundings and 
at this time that the thorough-going American of tradition was 
born: blatant, illogical, elate, "greeting the embarrassed gods" 
uproariously and matching "with Destiny for beers." Jack- 
son was unmistakably of that company in his every instinct and 
idea, and it was his fate to give a new and unshakable confidence 
to its aspiration at the Battle of New Orleans. Thereafter all 
doubts began to die out; the new republic was turning out a 
success. And with success came a vast increase in the national 
egoism. The hordes of pioneers rolled down the western valleys 
and on to the great plains. 6 America began to stand for some- 
thing quite new in the world in government, in law, in public 
and private morals, in customs and habits of mind, in the 
minutia of social intercourse. And simultaneously the voice of 
America began to take on its characteristic twang, and the speech 
of America began to differentiate itself boldly and unmistak- 
ably from the speech of England. The average Philadelphian 
or Bostonian of 1790 had not the slightest difficulty in making 
himself understood by a visiting Englishman. But the average 
Ohio boatman of 1810 or plainsman of 1815 was already speak- 
ing a dialect that the Englishman would have shrunk from as 
barbarous and unintelligible, and before long it began to leave 

e Indiana and Illinois were erected into territories during Jefferson's 
first term, and Michigan during his second term. Kentucky was admit- 
ted to the union in 1792, Tennessee in 1796, Ohio in 1803. Lewis and Clarke 
set out for the Pacific in 1804. The Louisiana Purchase was ratified in 
1803, and Louisiana became a state in 1812. 


its mark upon and to get direction and support from a dis- 
tinctively national literature. 

That literature, however, was very slow in coming to a digni- 
fied, confident and autonomous estate. Down to Jefferson's day 
it was almost wholly polemical, and hence lacking in the finer 
values; he himself, an insatiable propagandist and controver- 
sialist, was one of its chief ornaments. "The novelists and the 
historians, the essayists and the poets, whose names come to mind 
when American literature is mentioned," says a recent literary 
historian, "have all flourished since 1800." 7 Pickering, so late 
as 1816, said that "in this country we can hardly be said to have ,. 
any authors by profession. "It was a true saying, though the 
new day was about to dawn; Bryant had already written 
"Thanatopsis" and was destined to publish it the year follow- 
ing. Difficulties of communication hampered the circulation of 
the few native books that were written ; it was easier for a man 
in the South to get books from London than to get them from 
Boston or New York, and the lack of a copyright treaty with 
England flooded the country with cheap English editions. "It 
is much to be regretted," wrote Dr. David Ramsay, of Charles- 
ton, S. C., to Noah Webster in 1806, "that there is so little inter- 
course in a literary way between the states. As soon as a book 
of general utility comes out in any state it should be for sale 
in all of them." Ramsay asked for little; the most he could 
imagine was a sale of 2,000 copies for an American work in 
America. But even that was far beyond the possibilities of the 

An external influence of great potency helped to keep the 
national literature scant and timorous during those early and 
perilous days. It was the extraordinary animosity of the Eng- 
lish critics, then at the zenith of their pontifical authority, to 
all books of American origin or flavor. This animosity, culmi- 
nating in Sydney Smith's famous sneer, 8 was but part of a 

7 Barrett Wendell: A Literary History of America; New York, 1900. 

s "In the four quarters of the globe, who reads an American book ? or 
goes to an American play? or looks at an American picture or statue?" 
Edinburgh Review, Jan., 1820. 


larger hostility to all things American, from political theories 
to table manners. The American, after the war of 1812, be- 
came the pet abomination of the English, and the chief butt of 
the incomparable English talent for moral indignation. There 
was scarcely an issue of the Quarterly Review, the Edinburgh, 
the Foreign Quarterly, the British Review or Blackwood's, for 
a generation following 1814, in which he was not stupendously 
assaulted. Gifford, Sydney Smith and the poet Southey be- 
came specialists in this business; it took on the character of a 
holy war; even such mild men as Wordsworth were recruited 
for it. It was argued that the Americans were rogues and 
swindlers, that they lived in filth and squalor, that they were 
boors in social intercourse, that they were poltroons and savages 
in war, that they were depraved and criminal, that they were 
wholly devoid of the remotest notion of decency or honor. The 
Foreign Quarterly, summing up in January, 1844, pronounced 
them ' ' horn-handed and pig-headed, hard, persevering, unscrup- 
ulous, carnivorous, with a genius for lying." Various Ameri- 
cans went to the defense of their countrymen, among them, 
Irving, Cooper, Timothy Dwight, J. K. Paulding, John Neal, 
Edward Everett and Robert Walsh. Paulding, in "John Bull 
in America, or, the New Munchausen," published in 1825, at- 
tempted satire. Even an Englishman, James Sterling, warned 
his fellow-Britons that, if they continued their intolerant abuse, 
they would "turn into bitterness the last drops of good- will 
toward England that exist in the United States." But the 
avalanche of denunciation kept up, and even down to a few 
years ago it was very uncommon for an Englishman to write of 
American politics, or manners, or literature without betraying 
his dislike. Not, indeed, until the Prussian began monopolizing 
the whole British talent for horror and invective did the Yankee 
escape the lash. 9 

This gigantic pummelling, in the long run, was destined to 
encourage an independent spirit in the national literature, if 

C/. As Others See Us, by John Graham Brooks; New York, 1908, ch. 
vii. Also, The Cambridge History of American Literature, vol. i, pp. 205-8. 


only by a process of mingled resentment and despair, but for 
some time its chief effect was to make American writers of a 
more delicate aspiration extremely self-conscious and diffident. 
The educated classes, even against their will, were influenced 
by the torrent of abuse; they could not help finding in it an 
occasional reasonableness, an accidental true hit. The result, 
despite the efforts of Channing, Knapp and other such valiant 
defenders of the native author, was uncertainty and skepticism 
in native criticism. "The first step of an American entering 
upon a literary career, ' ' says Lodge, writing of the first quarter 
of the century, "was to pretend to be an Englishman in order 
that he might win the approval, not of Englishmen, but of his 
own countrymen." Cooper, in his first novel, "Precaution," 
chose an English scene, imitated English models, and obviously 
hoped to placate the critics thereby. Irving, too, in his earliest 
work, showed a considerable discretion, and his "History of 
New York, ' ' as everyone knows, was first published anonymously. 
But this puerile spirit did not last long. The English on- 
slaughts were altogether too vicious to be received lying down ; 
their very fury demanded that they be met with a united and 
courageous front. Cooper, in his second novel, "The Spy," 
boldly chose an American setting and American characters, and 
though the influence of his wife, who came of a Loyalist family, 
caused him to avoid any direct attack upon the English, he at- 
tacked them indirectly, and with great effect, by opposing an 
immediate and honorable success to their derisions. ' ' The Spy ' ' 
ran through three editions in four months; it was followed by 
his long line of thoroughly American novels; in 1834 he for- 
mally apologized to his countrymen for his early truancy in 
"Precaution." Irving, too, soon adopted a bolder tone, and 
despite his English predilections, he refused an offer of a hun- 
dred guineas for an article for the Quarterly Review, made by 
Gifford in 1828, on the ground that "the Review has been so 
persistently hostile to our country that I cannot draw a pen in 
its service." 

The same year saw the publication of the first edition of Web- 


ster's American Dictionary of the English language, and a 
year later followed Samuel L. Knapp's "Lectures on American 
Literature," the first history of the national letters ever at- 
tempted. Knapp, in his preface, thought it necessary to prove, 
first of all, that an American literature actually existed, and 
Webster, in his introduction, was properly apologetic, but there 
was no real need for timorousness in either case, for the Amer- 
ican attitude toward the attack of the English was now definitely 
changing from uneasiness to defiance. The English critics, in 
fact, had overdone the thing, and though their clatter was to 
keep up for many years more, they no longer spread terror 
or had much influence. Of a sudden, as if in answer to them, 
doubts turned to confidence, and then into the wildest sort of 
optimism, not only in politics and business, but also in what 
passed for the arts. Knapp boldly defied the English to pro- 
duce a "tuneful sister" surpassing Mrs. Sigourney; more, he 
argued that the New World, if only by reason of its superior 
scenic grandeur, would eventually hatch a poetry surpassing 
even that of Greece and Rome. "What are the Tibers and 
Scamanders," he demanded, "measured by the Missouri and the 
Amazon? Or what the loveliness of Illysus or Avon by the 
Connecticut or the Potomack?" 

In brief, the national feeling, long delayed at birth, finally 
leaped into being in amazing vigor. "One can get an idea of 
the strength of that feeling," says R. 0. Williams, "by glancing 
at almost any book taken at random from the American publi- 
cations of the period. Belief in the grand future of the United 
States is the key-note of everything said and done. All things 
American are to be grand our territory, population, products, 
wealth, science, art but especially our political institutions and 
literature. The unbounded confidence in the material develop- 
ment of the country which now characterizes the extreme north- 
west of the United States prevailed as strongly throughout the 
eastern part of the Union during the first thirty years of the 
century; and over and above a belief in, and concern for, ma- 
terialistic progress, there were enthusiastic anticipations of 
achievements in all the moral and intellectual fields of national 


greatness. ' ' 10 Nor was that vast optimism wholly without war- 
rant. An American literature was actually coming into being, 
and with a wall of hatred and contempt shutting in England, 
the new American writers were beginning to turn to the Con- 
tinent for inspiration and encouragement. Irving had already 
drunk at Spanish springs; Emerson and Bayard Taylor were 
to receive powerful impulses from Germany, following Ticknor, 
Bancroft and Everett before them; Bryant was destined to go 
back to the classics. Moreover, Cooper and John P. Kennedy 
had shown the way to native sources of literary material, and 
Longfellow was making ready to follow them; novels in imita- 
tion of English models were no longer heard of; the ground 
was preparing for "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Finally, Webster 
himself, as Williams demonstrated, worked better than he knew. 
His American Dictionary was not only thoroughly American: 
it was superior to any of the current dictionaries of the English, 
so much so that for a good many years it remained "a sort of 
mine for British lexicography to exploit." 

Thus all hesitations disappeared, and there arose a national 
consciousness so soaring and so blatant that it began to dismiss 
all British usage and opinion as puerile and idiotic. William 
L. Marcy, when Secretary of State under Pierce (1853-57), 
issued a circular to all American diplomatic and consular offi- 
cers, loftily bidding them employ only "the American lan- 
guage" in communicating with him. The Legislature of In- 
diana, in an act approved February 15, 1838, establishing the 
state university at Bloomington, 11 provided that it should in- 
struct the youth of the new commonwealth (it had been admitted 
to the Union in 1816) "in the American, learned and foreign 
languages . . . and literature." Such grandiose pronuncia- 

10 Our Dictionaries and Other English Language Topics; New York, 
1890, pp. 30-31. 

11 It is curious to note that the center of population of the United 
States, according to the last census, is now "in southern Indiana, in the 
western part of Bloomington city, Monroe county." Can it be that this 
early declaration of literary independence laid the foundation for Indiana's 
recent pre-eminence in letters? Cf. The Language We Use, by Alfred Z. 
Reed, New York Sun, March 13, 1918. 


mentos well indicate and explain the temper of the era. 12 It was 
a time of expansion and braggadocia. The new republic would 
not only produce a civilization and a literature of its own; it 
would show the way for all other civilizations and literatures. 
Rufus Wilmot Griswold, the enemy of Poe, rose from his 
decorous Baptist pew to protest that so much patriotism 
amounted to insularity and absurdity, but there seems to have 
been no one to second the motion. It took, indeed, the vast 
shock of the Civil War to unhorse the optimists. While the 
Jackson influence survived, it was the almost unanimous na- 
tional conviction that "he who dallies is a dastard, and he who 
doubts is damned." 


The Language in the Making All this jingoistic bombast, 
however, was directed toward defending, not so much the na- 
tional vernacular as the national beautiful letters. True enough, 
an English attack upon a definite American locution always 
brought out certain critical minute-men, but in the main they 
were anything but hospitable to the racy neologisms that kept 
crowding up from below, and most of them were eager to be 
accepted as masters of orthodox English and very sensitive to 
the charge that their writing was bestrewn with Americanisms. 
A glance through the native criticism of the time will show 
how ardently even the most uncompromising patriots imitated 
the Johnsonian jargon then fashionable in England. Fowler 
and Griswold followed pantingly in the footsteps of Macaulay; 
their prose is extraordinarily ornate and self-conscious, and one 
searches it in vain for any concession to colloquialism. Poe, the 
master of them all, achieved a style so elephantine that many 
an English leader-writer must have studied it with envy. A 
few bolder spirits, as we have seen, spoke out for national free- 
dom in language as well as in letters among them, Channing 
but in the main the Brahmins of the time were conservatives in 

12 Support also came from abroad. Czar Nicholas I, of Russia, smart- 
ing under his defeat in the Crimea, issued an order that his own state 
papers should be prepared in Russian and American not English. 


that department, and it is difficult to imagine Emerson or Irving 
or Bryant sanctioning the innovations later adopted so easily 
by Howells. Lowell and Walt Whitman, in fact, were the first 
men of letters, properly so called, to give specific assent to the 
great changes that were firmly fixed in the national speech dur- 
ing the half century between the War of 1812 and the Civil 
War. Lowell did so in his preface to the second series of ' ' The 
Biglow Papers. ' ' Whitman made his declaration in ' ' An Amer- 
ican Primer." In discussing his own poetry, he said: ''It is 
an attempt to give the spirit, the body and the man, new words, 
new potentialities of speech an American, a cosmopolitan (for 
the best of America is the best cosmopolitanism) range of self- 
expression." And then: "The Americans are going to be the 
most fluent and melodious-voiced people in the world and the 
most perfect users of words. The new times, the new people, 
the new vistas need a new tongue according yes, and what 
is more, they will have such a new tongue. ' ' To which, as every- 
one knows, Whitman himself forthwith contributed many dar- 
ing (and still undigested) novelties, e. g., camerado, romanza, 
Adamic and These States. 

Meanwhile, in strong contrast to the lingering conservatism 
above there was a wild and lawless development of the language 
below, and in the end it forced itself into recognition, and 
profited by the literary declaration of independence of its very 
opponents. "The jus et norma loquendi," says W. R. Morfill, 
the English philologist, "do not depend upon scholars." Par- 
ticularly in a country where scholarship is still new and wholly 
cloistered, and the overwhelming majority of the people are 
engaged upon novel and highly exhilarating tasks, far away 
from schools and with a gigantic cockiness in their hearts. The 
remnants of the Puritan civilization had been wiped out by the 
rise of the proletariat under Jackson, and whatever was fine and 
sensitive in it had died with it. What remained of an urbane 
habit of mind and utterance began to be confined to the nar- 
rowing feudal areas of the south, and to the still narrower refuge 
of the Boston Brahmins, now, for the first time, a definitely 
recognized caste of intelligentsia) self-charged with carrying the 


torch of culture through a new Dark Age. The typical Ameri- 
can, in Paulding's satirical phrase, became "a bundling, goug- 
ing, impious" fellow, without either "morals, literature, reli- 
gion or refinement." Next to the savage struggle for land and 
dollars, party politics was the chief concern of the people, and 
with the disappearance of the old leaders and the entrance of 
pushing upstarts from the backwoods, political controversy sank 
to an incredibly low level. Bartlett, in the introduction to the 
second edition of his Glossary, describes the effect upon the lan- 
guage. First the enfranchised mob, whether in the city wards 
or along the western rivers, invented fantastic slang-words and 
turns of phrase; then they were "seized upon by stump-speak- 
ers at political meetings ' ' ; then they were heard in Congress ; 
then they got into the newspapers; and finally they came into 
more or less good usage. Much contemporary evidence is to the 
same effect. Fowler, in listing "low expressions" in 1850, de- 
scribed them as "chiefly political." "The vernacular tongue 
of the country," said Daniel Webster, "has become greatly vi- 
tiated, depraved and corrupted by the style of the congressional 
debates." Thornton, in the appendix to his Glossary, gives 
some astounding specimens of congressional oratory between the 
20 's and 60 's, and many more will reward the explorer who 
braves the files of the Congressional Globe. This flood of racy 
and unprecedented words and phrases beat upon and finally 
penetrated the retreat of the literati, but the purity of speech 
cultivated there had little compensatory influence upon the vul- 
gate. The newspaper was now enthroned, and belles lettres 
were cultivated almost in private, and as a mystery. It is prob- 
able, indeed, that "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "Ten Nights in 
a Bar-room," both published in the early 50 's, were the first 
contemporary native books, after Cooper's day, that the Amer- 
ican people, as a people, ever read. Nor did the pulpit, now 
fast falling from its old high estate, lift a corrective voice. On 
the contrary, it joined the crowd, and Bartlett denounces it spe- 
cifically for its bad example, and cites, among its crimes against 
the language, such inventions as to doxologize and to funeralize. 


To these novelties, apparently without any thought of their un- 
couthness, Fowler adds to missionate and consociational. 

As I say, the pressure from below broke down the defenses 
of the purists, and literally forced a new national idiom upon 
them. Pen in hand, they might still achieve laborious imita- 
tions of Johnson and Macaulay, but their mouths began to be- 
tray them. "When it comes to talking," wrote Charles Astor 
Bristed for Englishmen in 1855, "the most refined and best 
educated American, who has habitually resided in his own coun- 
try, the very man who would write, on some serious topic, vol- 
umes in which no peculiarity could be detected, will, in half a 
dozen sentences, use at least as many words that cannot fail to 
strike the inexperienced Englishman who hears them for the 
first time." Bristed gave a specimen of the American of that 
time, calculated to flabbergast his inexperienced Englishman; 
you will find it in the volume of Cambridge Essays, already cited. 
His aim was to explain and defend Americanisms, and so shut 
off the storm of English reviling, and he succeeded in producing 
one of the most thoughtful and persuasive essays on the subject 
ever written. But his purpose failed and the attack kept up, 
and eight years afterward the Very Rev. Henry Alford, D.D., 
dean of Canterbury, led a famous assault. "Look at those 
phrases," he said, "which so amuse us in their speech and 
books; at their reckless exaggeration and contempt for con- 
gruity; and then compare the character and history of the na- 
tion its blunted sense of moral obligation and duty to man; 
its open disregard of conventional right where aggrandizement 
is to be obtained ; and I may now say, its reckless and fruitless 
maintenance of the most cruel and unprincipled war in the his- 
tory of the world. " 13 In his American edition of 1866 Dr. 
Alford withdrew this reference to the Civil War and somewhat 
ameliorated his indignation otherwise, but he clung to the main 
counts in his indictment, and most Englishmen, I daresay, still 
give them a certain support. The American is no longer a 

is A Plea for the Queen's English; London, 1863; 2nd ed., 1864; Ameri- 
can ed., New York, 1866. 


"vain, egotistical, insolent, rodomontade sort of fellow "; Amer- 
ica is no longer the "brigand confederation" of the Foreign 
Quarterly or "the loathsome creature, . . . maimed and lame, 
full of sores and ulcers" of Dickens ; but the Americanism is yet 
regarded with a bilious eye, and pounced upon viciously when 
found. Even the friendliest English critics seem to be daunted 
by the gargantuan copiousness of American inventions in speech. 
Their position, perhaps, was well stated by Capt. Basil Hall, 
author of the celebrated "Travels in North America," in 1827. 
When he argued that "surely such innovations are to be depre- 
cated," an American asked him this question: "If a word be- 
comes universally current in America, why should it not take 
its station in the language?" "Because," replied Hall in all 
seriousness, "there are words enough in our language already." 


The Expanding Vocabulary A glance at some of the charac- 
teristic coinages of the time, as they are revealed in the Congres- 
sional Globe, in contemporary newspapers and political tracts, 
and in that grotesque small literature of humor which began 
with Judge Thomas C. Haliburton's "Sam Slick" in 1835, is 
almost enough to make one sympathize with Dean Alford. Bart- 
lett quotes to doxologize from the Christian Disciple, a quite 
reputable religious paper of the 40 's. To citizenize was used 
and explained by Senator Young, of Illinois, in the Senate on 
February 1, 1841, and he gave Noah Webster as authority for 
it. To funeralize and to missionate, along with consociational, 
were contributions of the backwoods pulpit ; perhaps it also pro- 
duced hell-roaring and hellion, the latter of which was a favorite 
of the Mormons and even got into a sermon by Henry Ward 
Beecher. To deacon, a verb of decent mien in colonial days, 
signifying to read a hymn line by line, responded to the rough 
humor of the time, and began to mean to swindle or adulterate, 
. g., to put the largest berries at the top of the box, to extend 
one's fences sub rosa, or to mix sand with sugar. A great rage 
for extending the vocabulary by the use of suffixes seized upon 


the corn-fed etymologists, and they produced a formidable new 
vocabulary in -ize, -ate, -ify, -acy, -ous and -ment. Such inven- 
tions as to obligate, to concertize, to questionize, retiracy, sav- 
agerous, coatee (a sort of diminutive for coat) and citified ap- 
peared in the popular vocabulary, and even got into more or less 
good usage. Fowler, in 1850, cited publishment and release- 
ment with no apparent thought that they were uncouth. And 
at the same time many verbs were made by the simple process 
of back formation, as, to resurrect, to excurt, to resolute, to bur- 
gle 14 and to enthuse. 15 

Some of these inventions, after nourishing for a generation 
or more, were retired with blushes during the period of aesthetic 
consciousness following the Civil War, but a large number have 
survived to our own day, and are in good usage. Not even the 
most bilious purist would think of objecting to to affiliate, to 
itemize, to resurrect or to Americanize today, and yet all of 
them gave grief to the judicious when they first appeared in the 
debates of Congress, brought there by statesmen from the back- 
woods. Nor to such simpler verbs of the period as to corner 
(i. e., the market), to boss and to lynch. 16 Nor perhaps to to 
boom, to boost, to kick (in the sense of to protest), to coast (on 
a sled), to engineer, to collide, to chink (i.e., logs), to feaze, to 
splurge, to aggravate (in the sense of to anger), to yank and 
to crawfish. These verbs have entered into the very fibre of the 
American vulgate, and so have many nouns derived from them, 
e. g., boomer, boom-town, bouncer, kicker, kick, splurge, roller- 
coaster. A few of them, e. g., to collide and to feaze, were 

i* J. R. Ware, in Passing English of the Victorian Era, says that to 
burgle was introduced to London by W. S. Gilbert in The Pirates of Pen- 
zance (April 3, 1880). It was used in America 30 years before. 

is This process, of course, is philologically respectable, however uncouth 
its occasional products may be. By it we have acquired many everyday 
words, among them, to accept (from acceptum), to exact (from exactum) , 
to darkle (from darkling], and pea (from pease = pois) . 

is All authorities save one seem to agree that this verb is a pure Ameri- 
canism, and that it is derTved from the name of Charles Lynch, a Virginia 
justice of the peace, who jailed many Loyalists in 1780 without warrant in 
law. The dissentient, Bristed, says that to linch is in various northern 
English dialects, and means to beat or maltreat. 



archaic English terms brought to new birth ; a few others, e. g., 
to holler 17 and to muss, were obviously mere corruptions. But 
a good many others, e. g., to bulldoze, to hornswoggle and to 
scoot, were genuine inventions, and redolent of the soil. 

With the new verbs came a great swarm of verb -phrases, 
some of them short and pithy and others extraordinarily elab- 
orate, but all showing the true national talent for condensing a 
complex thought, and often a whole series of thoughts, into a 
vivid and arresting image. Of the first class are to fill the bill, 
to fizzle out, to make tracks, to peter out, to plank down, to go 
back on, to keep tab, to light out and to back water. Side by 
side with them we have inherited such common coins of speech 
as to make the fur fly, to cut a swath, to know him like a book, 
to keep a stiff upper lip, to cap the climax, to handle without 
gloves, to freeze on to, to go it blind, to pull wool over his eyes, 
to know the ropes, to get solid with, to spread one's self, to run 
into the ground, to dodge the issue, to paint the town red, to 
take a back seat and to get ahead of. These are so familiar that 
we use them and hear them without thought; they seem as au- 
thentically parts of the English idiom as to be left at the post. 
And yet, as the labors of Thornton have demonstrated, all of 
them are of American nativity, and the circumstances surround- 
ing the origin of some of them have been accurately determined. 
Many others are palpably the products of the great movement 
toward the West, for example, to pan out, to strike it rich, to 
jump or enter a claim, to pull up stakes, to rope in, to die with 
one's boots on, to get the deadwood on, to get the drop, to back 
and fill (a steamboat phrase used figuratively) and to get the 
bulge on. And in many others the authentic American is no 
less plain, for example, in to kick the bucket, to put a bug in his 

17 The correct form of this appears to be halloo or holloa, but in 
America it is pronounced holler and usually represented in print by hollo 
or hollow. I have often encountered holloed in the past tense. But the 
Public Printer frankly accepts holler. Vide the Congressional Record, 
May 12, 1917, p. 2309. The word, in the form of hollering, is here credited 
to "Hon." John L. Burnett, of Alabama. There can be no doubt that the 
hon. gentleman said hollering, and not holloaing, or holloeing, or hollowing, 
or hallooing. Hello is apparently a variation of the same word. 


ear, to see the elephant, to crack up, to do up brown, to bark 
up the wrong tree, to jump on with both feet, to go the whole 
hog, to make a kick, to buck the tiger, to let it slide and to come 
out at the little end of the horn. To play possum belongs to this 
list. To it Thornton adds to knock into a cocked hat, despite its 
English sound, and to have an ax to grind. To go for, both in 
the sense of belligerency and in that of partisanship, is also 
American, and so is to go through (i. e., to plunder). 

Of adjectives the list is scarcely less long. Among the coin- 
ages of the first half of the century that are in good use today 
are non-committal, highjalutin, well-posted, down-town, played- 
out, flat-footed, whole-souled and true-blue. The first appears 
in a Senate debate of 1841 ; highfalutin in a political speech of 
the same decade. Both are useful words; it is impossible, not 
employing them, to convey the ideas behind them without cir- 
cumlocution. The use of slim in the sense of meagre, as in slim 
chance, slim attendance and slim support, goes back still further. 
The English use small in place of it. Other, and less respectable 
contributions of the time are brash, brainy, peart, locoed, pesky, 
picayune, scary, well-heeled, hardshell (e. g., Baptist), low-flung, 
codfish (to indicate opprobrium) and go-to-meeting. The use 
of plumb as an adjective, as in plumb crazy, is an English 'j 
archaism that was revived in the United States in the early years 
of the century. In the more orthodox adverbial form of plu)mp 
it still survives, for example, in ' ' she fell plump into his arms. ' ' 
But this last is also good English. 

The characteristic American substitution of mad for angry 
goes back to the eighteenth century, and perhaps denotes the 
survival of an English provincialism. Witherspoon noticed it 
and denounced it in 1781, and in 1816 Pickering called it "low" 
and said that it was not used "except in very familiar conver- 
sation." But it got into much better odor soon afterward, and 
by 1840 it passed unchallenged. Its use" is one of the peculiari- 
ties that Englishmen most quickly notice in American colloquial 
speech today. In formal written discourse it is less often en- 
countered, probably because the English marking of it has so 
conspicuously singled it out. But it is constantly met with 


in the newspapers and in the Congressional Record, and it is not 
infrequently used by such writers as Howells and Dreiser. In 
the familiar simile, as mad as a hornet, it is used in the Ameri- 
can sense. But as mad as a March hare is English, and con- 
notes insanity, not mere anger. The English meaning of the 
word is preserved in mad-house and mad-dog, but I have often 
noticed that American rustics, employing the latter term, de- 
rive from it a vague notion, not that the dog is demented, but 
that it is in a simple fury. From this notion, perhaps, comes 
the popular belief that dogs may be thrown into hydrophobia by 
teasing and badgering them. 

It was not, however, among the verbs and adjectives that the 
American word-coiners of the first half of the century achieved 
their gaudiest innovations, but among the substantives. Here 
they had temptation and excuse in plenty, for innumerable new 
objects and relations demanded names, and here they exercised 
their fancy without restraint. Setting aside loan words, which 
will be considered later, three main varieties of new nouns were 
thus produced. The first consisted of English words rescued 
from obsolescence or changed in meaning, the second of com- 
pounds manufactured of the common materials of the mother 
tongue, and the third of entirely new inventions. Of the first 
class, good specimens are deck (of cards), gulch, gully and 
billion, the first three old English words restored to usage in 
America and the last a sound English word changed in mean- 
ing. Of the second class, examples are offered by gum-shoe, 
mortgage-shark, dug-out, shot-gun, stag-party, wheat-pit, horse- 
seme, chipped-beef, oyster-supper 1 , buzz-saw, chain-gang and 
hell-box. And of the third there are instances in buncombe, 
greaser, conniption, bloomer, campus, galoot, maverick, roust- 
about, bugaboo and blizzard. 

Of these coinages, perhaps those of the second class are most 
numerous and characteristic. In them American exhibits one 
of its most marked tendencies: a habit of achieving short cuts 
in speech by a process of agglutination. Why explain labori- 
ously, as an Englishman might, that the notes of a new bank (in 
a day of innumerable new banks) are insufficiently secure ? Call 


them wild-cat notes and have done! Why describe a gigantic 
rain storm with the lame adjectives of everyday? Call it a 
cloud-burst and immediately a vivid picture of it is conjured 
up. Rough-neck is a capital word; it is more apposite and 
savory than the English navvy, and it is overwhelmingly more 
American. 18 Square-meal is another. Fire-eater is yet an- 
other. And the same instinct for the terse, the eloquent and the 
picturesque is in boiled-shirt, blow-out, big-bug, claim-jumper, 
spread-eagle, come-down, back-number, claw-hammer (coat), bot- 
tom-dollar, poppy-cock, cold-snap, back-talk, back-taxes, calamity- 
howler, cut-off, fire-bug, grab-bag, grip-sack, grub-stake, pay- 
dirt, tender- foot, stocking- feet, ticket-scalper, store-clothes, small- 
potatoes, cake-walk, prairie-schooner, round-up, snake-fence, flat- 
boat, under-the-weather, on-the-hoof, and jumping -off -place. 
These compounds (there must be thousands of them) have been 
largely responsible for giving the language its characteristic 
tang and color. Such specimens as bell-hop, semi-occasional, 
chair-warmer and down-and-out are as distinctively American 
as baseball or the quick-lunch. 

The spirit of the language appears scarcely less clearly in 
some of the coinages of the other classes. There are, for exam- 
ple, the English words that have been extended or' restricted in 
meaning, e. g., docket (for court calendar), betterment (for im- 
provement to property), collateral (for security), crank (for 
fanatic), jumper (for tunic), tickler (for memorandum or re- 
minder), 19 carnival (in such phrases as carnival of crime], scrape 
(for fight or difficulty), 20 flurry (of snow, or in the market), sus- 
penders, diggings (for habitation) and range. Again, there are 
the new assemblings of English materials, e. g., doggery, rowdy, 
teetotaler, goatee, tony and cussedness. Yet again, there are the 
purely artificial words, e. g., sockdolager, hunkydory, scalawag, 
guyascutis, spondulix, slumgullion, rambunctious, scrumptious, 

is Rough-neck is often cited, in discussions of slang, as a latter-day in- 
vention, but Thornton shows that it was used in Texas in 1836. 

i This use goes back to 1839. 

20 Thornton gives an example dated 1812. Of late the word has lost its 
final e and shortened its vowel, becoming scrap. 


to skedaddle, to absquatulate and to exfluncticate. 21 In the use 
of the last-named coinages fashions change. In the 40 's to 
absquatulate was in good usage, but it has since disappeared. 
Most of the other inventions of the time, however, have to some 
extent survived, and it would be difficult to find an American of 
today who did not know the meaning of scalawag and rambunc- 
tious and who did not occasionally use them. A whole series of 
artificial American words groups itself around the prefix ker, 
for example, Tier-flop, ker-splash, ker-thump, ker-bang, ker-plunk, 
ker-slam and ker-flummux. This prefix and its onomatopoeic 
daughters have been borrowed by the English, but Thornton and 
Ware agree that it is American. Its origin has not been de- 
termined. As Sayce says, "the native instinct of language 
breaks out wherever it has the chance, and coins words which 
can be traced back to no ancestors. ' ' 

In the first chapter I mentioned the superior imaginativeness 
revealed by Americans in meeting linguistic emergencies, 
whereby, for example, in seeking names for new objects intro- 
duced by the building of railroads, they surpassed the English 
plough and crossing-plate with cow-catcher and frog. That was 
in the 30 's. Already at that early day the two languages were 
so differentiated that they produced wholly distinct railroad 
nomenclatures. Such commonplace American terms as box-car, 
caboose, air-line and ticket-agent are still quite unknown in Eng- 
land. So are freight-car, flagman, towerman, switch, switching- 
engine, switch-yard, switchman, track-walker, engineer, baggage- 
room, baggage-check, baggage-smasher, accommodation-train, 
baggage-master, conductor, express-car, flat-car, hand-car, way- 
bill, expressman, express-office, fast-freight, wrecking-crew, jerk- 
water, commutation-ticket, commuter, round-trip, mileage-book, 
ticket-scalper, depot, limited, hot-box, iron-horse, stop-over, tie, 
rail, fish-plate, run, train-boy, chair-car, club-car, diner, sleeper, 
bumpers, mail-clerk, passenger-coach, day-coach, excursionist, 

21 Cf. Terms of Approbation and Eulogy. ... by Elise L. Warnock, 
Dialect Notes, vol. iv, part 1, 1913. Among the curious recent coinages cited 
by Miss Warnock are scally wampus, supergobosnoptious, hyperfirmatious, 
scrumdifferous and swellellegous. 


excursion-train, railroad-man, ticket-office, truck and right-of- 
way, not to mention the verbs, to flag, to derail, to express, to 
dead-head, to side-swipe, to stop-over, to fire (i. e., a locomotive), 
to switch, to side-track, to railroad, to commute, to telescope and 
to clear the track. These terms are in constant use in America ; 
their meaning is familiar to all Americans; many of them have 
given the language everyday figures of speech. 22 But the ma- 
jority of them would puzzle an Englishman, just as the English 
luggage-van, permanent-way, goods-waggon, guard, carrier, 
booking -office, return-ticket, railway-rug, R. 8. 0. (railway sub- 
office), tripper, line, points, shunt, metals and bogie would puz- 
zle the average untravelled American. 

In two other familiar fields very considerable differences be- 
tween English and American are visible; in both fields they go 
back to the era before the Civil War. They are politics and 
that department of social intercourse which has to do with drink- 
ing. Many characteristic American political terms originated 
in revolutionary days, and have passed over into English. Of 
such sort are caucus and mileage. But the majority of those in 
common use today were coined during the extraordinarily excit- 
ing campaigns following the defeat of Adams by Jefferson. 
Charles Ledyard Norton has devoted a whole book to their 
etymology and meaning ; 23 the number is far too large for a 
list of them to be attempted here. But a few characteristic 
specimens may be recalled, for example, the simple agglutinates : 
omnibus-bill, banner-state, favorite-son, anxious -bench, gag-rule, 
office-seeker and straight-ticket; the humorous metaphors: pork- 
barrel, pie-counter, wire-puller, land-slide, carpet-bagger, lame- 
duck and on the fence; the old words put to new uses: plank, 
platform, machine, precinct, slate, primary, floater, repeater, 
bolter, stalwart, filibuster, regular and fences; the new coin- 
ages: gerrymander, heeler, buncombe, roorback, mugwump and 
to bulldoze; the new derivatives: abolitionist, candidacy, boss- 

22 E.g., single-track mind, to jump the rails, to collide head-on, broad- 
gauge man, to walk the ties, blind-baggage, underground-railroad, tank- 

23 Political Americanisms. . . .; New York and London, 1890. 


rule, per-diem, to lobby and boodler; and the almost innumer- 
able verbs and verb-phrases : to knife, to split a ticket, to go up 
Salt River, to bolt, to eat crow, to boodle, to divvy, to grab and 
to run. An English candidate never runs; he stands. To run, 
according to Thornton, was already used in America in 1789 ; 
it was universal by 1820. Platform came in at the same time. 
Machine was first applied to a political organization by Aaron 
Burr. The use of mugwump is commonly thought to have orig- 
inated in the Blaine campaign of 1884, but it really goes back 
to the 30 's. Anxious-bench (or anxious-seat) at first designated 
only the place occupied by the penitent at revivals, but was 
used in its present political sense in Congress so early as 1842. 
Banner-state appears in N lies' Register for December 5, 1840. 
Favorite-son appears in an ode addressed to Washington on his 
visit to Portsmouth, N. H., in 1789, but it did not acquire its 
present ironical sense until it was applied to Martin Van Buren. 
Thornton has traced bolter to 1812, filibuster to 1863, roorback 
to 1844, and split-ticket to 1842. Regularity was an issue in 
Tammany Hall in 1822. 24 There were primaries in New York 
city in 1827, and hundreds of repeaters voted. In 1829 there 
were lobby-agents at Albany, and they soon became lobbyists; 
in 1832 lobbying had already extended to Washington. All of 
these terms are now as firmly imbedded in the American vocabu- 
lary as election or congressman. 

In the department of conviviality the imaginativeness of 
Americans has been shown in both the invention and the naming 
of new and often highly complex beverages. So vast has been 
the production of novelties, in fact, that England has borrowed 
many of them, and their names with them. And not only Eng- 
land: one buys cocktails and gin-fizzes in "American bars" 
that stretch from Paris to Yokohama. Cocktail, stone-fence and 
sherry-cobbler were mentioned by Irving in 1809 ; 25 by Thack- 
eray 's day they were already well-known in England. Thorn- 
ton traces the sling to 1788, and the stinkibus and anti-fogmatic, 

24Qustavus Myers: The History of Tammany Hall; 2nd ed.; New York, 
1917, ch. viii. 
25 Knickerbocker's History of New York; New York, 1809, p. 241. 


both now extinct, to the same .year. The origin of the rickey, 
fizz, sour, cooler, skin, shrub and smash, and. of such curious 
American drinks as the horse's neck, Mamie Taylor, Tom-and- 
Jerry, Tom-Collins, John-Collins, bishop, stone-wall, gin-fix, 
brandy-champarelle, golden-slipper, hari-kari, locomotive, whis- 
key-daisy, blue-blazer, black-stripe, white-plush and brandy- 
crusta is quite unknown; the historians of alcoholism, like the 
philologists, have neglected them. 26 But the essentially Amer- 
ican character of most of them is obvious, despite the fact that 
a number have gone over into English. The English, in nam- 
ing their drinks, commonly display a far more limited imagina- 
tion. Seeking a name, for example, for a mixture of whiskey 
and soda-water, the best they could achieve was whiskey-and- 
soda. The Americans, introduced to the same drink, at once 
gave it the far more original name of high-ball. So with ginger- 
ale and ginger-pop. So with minerals and soft-drinks. Other 
characteristic Americanisms (a few of them borrowed by the 
English) are red-eye, corn- juice, eye-opener, forty-rod, squirrel- 
whiskey, phlegm-cutter, moon-shine, hard-cider, apple-jack and 
corpse-reviver, and the auxiliary drinking terms, speak-easy, 
sample-room, blind-pig, barrel-house, bouncer, bung-starter, dive, 
doggery, schooner, shell, stick, duck, straight, saloon, finger, 
pony and chaser. Thornton shows that jag, bust, bat and to 
crook the elbow are also Americanisms. So are bartender and 
saloon-keeper. To them might be added a long list of common 
American synonyms for drunk, for example, piffled, pifflicated, 
awry-eyed, tanked, snooted, stewed, ossified, slopped, fiddled, 
edged, loaded, het-up, frazzled, jugged, soused, jiggered, corned, 
jagged and bunned. Farmer and Henley list corned and jagged 
among English synonyms, but the former is obviously an Amer- 
icanism derived from corn-whiskey or corn-juice, and Thornton 
says that the latter originated on this side of the Atlantic also. 

26 Extensive lists of such drinks, with their ingredients, are to be 
found in the Hoffman House Bartender's Guide, by Charles Mahoney, 4th 
ed.; New York, 1916; in The Up-to-date Bartenders' Guide, by Harry 
Montague; Baltimore, 1913; and in Wehman Brothers' Bartenders' Guide; 
New York, 1912. An early list, from the Lancaster (Pa.) Journal of Jan. 
26, 1821, is quoted by Thornton, vol. ii, p. 985. 



Loan-Words The Indians of the new West, it would seem, 
had little to add to the contributions already made to the Amer- 
ican vocabulary by the Algonquins of the Northeast. The 
American people, by the beginning of the second quarter of the 
nineteenth century, knew almost all they were destined to know 
of the aborigine, and they had names for all the new objects 
that he had brought to their notice and for most of his peculiar 
implements and ceremonies. A few translated Indian terms, 
e. g., squaw-man, big-chief, great-white-father and happy-hunting 
ground, represent the meagre fresh stock that the western pio- 
neers got from him. Of more importance was the suggestive 
and indirect effect of his polysynthetic dialects, and particularly 
of his vivid proper names, e. g., Rain-in-the-Face, Young-Man- 
Afraid-of-His-Wife and Voice-Like-Thunder. These names, and 
other word-phrases like them, made an instant appeal to Amer- 
ican humor, and were extensively imitated in popular slang. 
One of the surviving coinages of that era is Old-Stick-in-the-Mud, 
which Farmer and Henley note as having reached England by 

Contact with the French in Louisiana and along the Canadian 
border, and with the Spanish in Texas and further West, brought 
many more new words. From the Canadian French, as we have 
already seen, prairie, batteau, portage and rapids had been bor- 
rowed during colonial days; to these French contributions 
bayou, picayune, levee, chute, butte, crevasse, and lagniappe 
were now added, and probably also shanty and canuck. The 
use of brave to designate an Indian warrior, almost uni- 
versal until the close of the Indian wars, was also of French 

From the Spanish, once the Mississippi was crossed, and par- 
ticularly after the Mexican war, in 1846, there came a swarm 
of novelties, many of which have remained firmly imbedded in 
the language. Among them were numerous names of strange 
objects: lariat, lasso, ranch, loco (weed), mustang, sombrero, 
canyon, desperado, poncho, chapparel, corral, broncho, plaza, 


peon, cayuse, burro, mesa, tornado, sierra and adobe. To them, 
as soon as gold was discovered, were added bonanza, eldorado, 
placer and vigilante. Cinch was borrowed from the Spanish 
cincha in the early Texas days, though its figurative use did not 
come in until much later. Ante, the poker term, though the 
etymologists point out its obvious origin in the Latin, probably 
came into American from the Spanish. Thornton 's first example 
of its use in its current sense is dated 1857, but Bartlett reported 
it in the form of anti in 1848. Coyote came from the Mexican 
dialect of Spanish; its first parent was the Aztec coyotl. To- 
male had a similar origin, and so did frijole and tomato. None 
of these is good Spanish. 27 As usual, derivatives quickly fol- 
lowed the new-comers, among them peonage, broncho-buster, 
ranchman and ranch-house, and the verbs to ranch, to lasso, to 
corral, to ante up, and to cinch. To vamose (from the Spanish 
vamos, let us go), came in at the same time. So did sabe. So 
did gazabo. 

This was also the period of the first great immigrations, and 
the American people now came into contact, on a large scale, 
with peoples of divergent race, particularly Germans, Irish 
Catholics from the South of Ireland (the Irish of colonial days 
"were descendants of Cromwell's army, and came from the 
North of Ireland ")> 28 and, on the Pacific Coast, Chinese. So 
early as the 20 's the immigration to the United States reached 
25,000 in a year ; in 1824 the Legislature of New York, in alarm, 
passed a restrictive act. 29 The Know-Nothing movement of the 
50 's need not concern us here. Suffice it to recall that the im- 
migration of 1845 passed the 100,000 mark, and that that of 
1854 came within sight of 500,000. These new Americans, most 
of them Germans and Irish, did not all remain in the East; a 
great many spread through the West and Southwest with the 
other pioneers. Their effect upon the language was not large, 

27 Many such words are listed in Felix Ramos y Duarte's Diccionaro de 
Mejicanismos, 2nd ed. Mexico City, 1898; and in Miguel de Toro y Gisbert'B 
\mericanismos; Paris, n. d. 

ssprescott F. Hall: Immigration. . . . New York, 1913, p. 5. 

29 Most of the provisions of this act, however, were later declared uncon- 
stitutional. Several subsequent acts met the same fate. 


perhaps, but it was still very palpable, and not only in the vocab- 
ulary. Of words of German origin, saurkraut and noodle, as we 
have seen, had come in during the colonial period, apparently 
through the so-called Pennsylvania Dutch, i. e., a mixture, much 
debased, of the German dialects of Switzerland, Suabia and the 
Palatinate. The new immigrants now contributed pretzel, pum- 
pernickel, hausfrau, lager-beer, pinocle, unenerwurst, dumb (for 
stupid), frankfurter, bock-beer, schnitzel, leberwurst, blutwurst, 
rathskeller, schweizer (cheese), delicatessen, hamburger (i.e., 
steak), kindergarten and katzenjammer. 30 From them, in all 
probability, there also came two very familiar Americanisms, 
loafer and bum. The former, according to the Standard Dic- 
tionary, is derived from the German laufen; another authority 
says that it originated in a German mispronounciation of lover, 
i. e., as lofer. 31 Thornton shows that the word was already in 
common use in 1835. Bum was originally bummer, and appar- 
ently derives from the German bummler. 32 Both words have pro- 
duced derivatives: loaf (noun), to loaf, corner-loafer, common- 
loafer, to bum, bum (adj.) and bummery, not to mention on the 

so The majority of these words, it will be noted, relate to eating and 
drinking. They mirror the profound effect of German immigration upon 
American drinking habits and the American cuisine. It is a curious fact 
that loan-words seldom represent the higher aspirations of the creditor 
nation. French and German have borrowed from English, not words of 
lofty significance, but such terms as beefsteak, roast-beef, pudding, grog, 
jockey, tourist, sport, five-o'clock-tea, cocktail and sweepstakes. "The con- 
tributions of England to European civilization, as tested by the English 
words in Continental languages," says L. P. Smith, "are not, generally, 
of a kind to cause much national self-congratulation." Nor would a 
German, I daresay, be very proud of the German contributions to American, 
si Vide a paragraph in Notes and Queries, quoted by Thornton, vol. i, p. 

82 Thornton offers examples of this form ranging from 1856 to 1885 
During the Civil War the word acquired the special meaning of looter. The 
Southerners thus applied it to Sherman's men. Vide Southern Historical 
Society Papers, vol. xii, p. 428; Richmond, 1884. Here is a popular rhyme 
that survived until the early 90's: 

Isidor, psht, psht! 

Vatch de shtore, psht, psht! 

Vhile I ketch de bummer 

Vhat shtole de suit of clothes! 
Bummel-zug is common German slang for slow train. 


bum. Loafer has migrated in England, but bum is still unknown 
there in the American sense. In English, indeed, bum is used to 
designate an unmentionable part of the body and is thus not 
employed in polite discourse. 

Another example of debased German is offered by the Ameri- 
can Kriss Kringle. It is from Christkindlein, or Christkind'l, 
and properly designates, of course, not the patron saint of Christ- 
mas, but the child in the manger. A German friend tells me that 
the form Kriss Kringle, which is that given in the Standard Dic- 
tionary, and the form Krisking'l, which is that most commonly 
used in the United States, are both quite unknown in Germany. 
Here, obviously, we have an example of a loan-word in decay. 
Whole phrases have gone through the same process, for example, 
nix come erous (from nichts kommt heraus) and 'rous mit 'im 
(from heraus mit ihm). These phrases, like wie geht's and gam 
gut, are familiar to practically all Americans, no matter how 
complete their ignorance of correct German. Most of them 
know, too, the meaning of gesundheit, kummel, seidel, wander- 
lust, stein, speck, maennerchor, schutzenfest, sdngerfest, turn- 
verein, hoch, yodel, zwieback, and zwei (as in zwei bier). I have 
found snitz (= schnitz) in Town Topics. 33 Prosit is in all Amer- 
ican dictionaries. 34 Bower, as used in cards, is an Americanism 
derived from the German bauer, meaning the jack. The excla- 
mation, ouch! is classed as an Americanism by Thornton, and 
he gives an example dated 1837. The New English Dictionary 
refers it to the German autsch, and Thornton says that "it may 
have come across with the Dunkers or the Mennonites." Ouch 
is not heard in English, save in the sense of a clasp or buckle 
set with precious stones (= OF nouche), and even in that sense it 
is archaic. Shyster is very probably German also ; Thornton has 
traced it back to the 50 's. 35 Rum-dumb is grounded upon the 

33 Jan. 24, 1918, p. 4. 

34 Nevertheless, when I once put it into a night-letter a Western Union 
office refused to accept it, the rules requiring all night-letters to be in 
"plain English." Meanwhile, the English have borrowed it from American, 
and it is actually in the Oxford Dictionary. 

33 The word is not in the Oxford Dictionary, but Cassell gives it and say 
that it is German and an Americanism. The Standard Dictionary does 


meaning of dumb borrowed from the German ; it is not listed in 
the English slang dictionaries. 36 Bristed says that the American 
meaning of wagon, which indicates almost any four-wheeled, 
horse-drawn vehicle in this country but only the very heaviest in 
England, was probably influenced by the German wagen. He 
also says that the American use of hold on for stop was suggested 
by the German halt an, and White says that the substitution of 
standpoint for point of view, long opposed by all purists, was 
first made by an American professor who sought ' ' an Anglicized 
form" of the German standpunkt. The same German influence 
may be behind the general facility with which American forms 
compound nouns. In most other languages, for example, Latin 
and French, the process is rare, and even English lags far behind 
American. But in German it is almost unrestricted. "It is," 
says L. P. Smith, "a great step in advance toward that ideal 
language in which meaning is expressed, not by terminations, but 
by the simple method of word position. ' ' 

The immigrants from the South of Ireland, during the period 
under review, exerted an influence upon the language that was 
vastly greater than that of the Germans, both directly and indi- 
rectly, but their contributions to the actual vocabulary were prob- 
ably less. They gave American, indeed, relatively few new 
words; perhaps shillelah, colleen, spalpeen, smithereens and po- 
teen exhaust the unmistakably Gaelic list. Lallapalooza is also 
.probably an Irish loan-word, though it is not Gaelic. It appar- 
|ently comes from allay-foozee, a Mayo provincialism, signifying 
* a sturdy fellow. Allay-foozee, in its turn, comes from the French 
l Allez-fusil, meaning "Forward the muskets!" a memory, ac- 

not give its etymology. Thornton's first example, dated 1856, shows a 
variant spelling, shuyster, thus indicating that it was then recent. All 
subsequent examples show the present spelling. It is to be noted that the 
suffix -ster is not uncommon in English, and that it usually carries a 
deprecatory significance, as in trickster, punster, gamester, etc. 

The use of dumb for stupid is widespread in the United States. Dumb- 
head, obviously from the German dummkopf, appears in a list of Kansas 
words collected by Judge J. C. Ruppenthal, of Russell, Kansas. (Dialect 
Notes, vol. iv, pt. v, 1916, p. 322.) It is also noted in Nebraska and the 
Western Reserve, and is very common in Pennsylvania. Uhrgucker 
(= uhr-gucken) is also on the Kansas list of Judge Ruppenthal. 


cording to P. W. Joyce, 37 of the French landing at Killala in 
1798. Such phrases as Erin go bragh and such expletives as 
begob and begorry may perhaps be added: they have got into 
American, though they are surely not distinctive Americanisms. 
But of far more importance than these few contributions to the 
vocabulary were certain speech habits that the Irish brought with 
them habits of pronunciation, of syntax and even of grammar. 
These habits were, in part, the fruit of efforts to translate the 
idioms of Gaelic into English, and in part borrowings from the 
English of the age of James I. The latter, preserved by Irish 
conservatism in speech, 38 came into contact in America with 
habits surviving, with more or less change, from the same time, 
and so gave those American habits an unmistakable reinforce- 
ment. The Yankees, so to speak, had lived down such Jacobean 
pronunciations as toy for tea, and desave for deceive, and these 
forms, on Irish lips, struck them as uncouth and absurd, but they 
still clung, in their common speech, to such forms as h'ist for 
hoist, bile for boil, chaw for chew, jine for join, 39 sass for sauce, 
heighth for height and rench for rinse and lep for leap, and the 
employment of precisely the same forms by the thousands of 
Irish immigrants who spread through the country undoubtedly 
gave them a certain support, and so protected them, in a meas- 
ure, from the assault of the purists. And the same support was 
given to drownded for drowned, oncet for once, ketch for catch, 
ag'in for against and onery for ordinary. 

s? English As We Speak It in Ireland, 2nd ed.; London and Dublin, 1910, 
pp. 179-180. 

38 "Our people," says Dr. Joyce, "are very conservative in retaining old 
customs and forms of speech. Many words accordingly that are discarded 
as old-fashioned or dead and gone in England, are still flourishing alive 
and well, in Ireland. [They represent] . . . the classical English of 
Shakespeare's time," pp. 6-7. 

39 Pope rhymed join with mine, divine and line; Dryden rhymed toil 
with smile. William Kenrick, in 1773, seems to have been the first Eng- 
lish lexicographer to denounce this pronunciation. Tay survived in England 
until the second half of the eighteenth century. Then it fell into disrepute, 
and certain purists, among them Lord Chesterfield, attempted to change the 
ea-sound to ee in all words, including even great. Cf. the remarks under 
toil in A Desk-Book of Twenty-Five Thousand Words Frequently Mispro- 
nounced, by Frank H. Vizetelly; New York, 1917. Also, The Standard of 
Pronunciation in English, by T. S. Lounsbury; New York, 1904, pp. 98-103. 


Certain usages of Gaelic, carried over into the English of Ire- 
land, fell upon fertile soil in America. One was the employment 
of the definite article before nouns, as in French and German. 
An Irishman does not say "I am good at Latin," but "I am good 
at the Latin." In the same way an American does not say "I 
had measles, ' ' but ' ' I had the measles. ' ' There is, again, the use 
of the prefix a before various adjectives and gerunds, as in 
a-going and a-riding. This usage, of course, is native to English, 
as aboard and afoot demonstrate, but it is much more common in 
the Irish dialect, on account of the influence of the parallel Gaelic 
form, as in a-n-aice = a-near, and it is also much more common 
in American. There is, yet again, a use of intensifying suffixes, 
often set down as characteristically American, which was prob- 
ably borrowed from the Irish. Examples are no-siree and yes- 
indeedy, and the later kiddo and skiddoo. As Joyce shows, such 
suffixes, in Irish-English, tend to become whole phrases. The 
Irishman is almost incapable of saying plain yes or no ; he must 
always add some extra and gratuitous asseveration. 40 The Amer- 
ican is in like case. His speech bristles with intensives: bet 
your life, not on your life, well I guess, and no mistake, and so on. 
The Irish extravagance of speech struck a responsive chord in the 
American heart. The American borrowed, not only occasional 
words, but whole phrases, and some of them have become thor- 
oughly naturalized. Joyce, indeed, shows the Irish origin of 
scores of locutions that are now often mistaken for native Ameri- 
canisms, for example, great shakes, dead (as an intensive), thank 
you kindly, to split one's sides (i. e., laughing), and the tune the 
old cow died of, not to mention many familiar similes and prov- 
erbs. Certain Irish pronunciations, Gaelic rather than archaic 
English, got into American during the nineteenth century. 
Among them, one recalls bhoy, which entered our political slang 
in the middle 40 's and survived into our own time. Again, there 
is the very characteristic American word ballyhoo, signifying 

40 Amusing examples are to be found in Donlevy's Irish Catechism. To 
the question, "Is the Son God?" the answer is not simply "Yes," but 
"Yes, certainly He is." And to the question, "Will God reward the good 
and punish the wicked?", the answer is "Certainly; there is no doubt H 


the harangue of a ballyhoo-man, or spieler (that is, barker) be- 
fore a cheap show, or, by metaphor, any noisy speech. It is from 
Ballyhooly, the name of a village in Cork, once notorious for its 
brawls. Finally, there is shebang. Schele de Vere derives it 
from the French cabane, but it seems rather more. likely that it 
is from the Irish shebeen. 

The propagation of Irishisms in the United States was helped, 
during many years, by the enormous popularity of various 
dramas of Irish peasant life, particularly those of Dion Bouci- 
cault. So recently as 1910 an investigation made by the Dra- 
matic Mirror showed that some of his pieces, notably ' ' Kathleen 
Mavourneen," "The Colleen Bawn" and "The Shaugraun," 
were still among the favorites of popular audiences. Such plays, 
at one time, were presented by dozens of companies, and a num- 
ber of Irish actors, among them Andrew Mack, Chauncey Olcott 
and Boucicault himself, made fortunes appearing in them. An 
influence also to be taken into account is that of Irish songs, once 
in great vogue. But such influences, like the larger matter of 
American borrowings from Anglo-Irish, remain to be investi- 
gated. So far as I have been able to discover, there is not a 
single article in print upon the subject. Here, as elsewhere, our 
philologists have wholly neglected a very interesting field of 

From other languages the borrowings during the period of 
growth were naturally less. Down to the last decades of the nine- 
teenth century, the overwhelming majority of immigrants were 
either Germans or Irish ; the Jews, Italians and Slavs were yet to 
come. But the first Chinese appeared in 1848, and soon their 
speech began to contribute its inevitable loan-words. These 
words, of course, were first adopted by the miners of the Pacific 
Coast, and a great many of them have remained California local- 
isms, among them such verbs as to yen (to desire strongly, as a 
Chinaman desires opium) and to flop-flop (to lie down), and such 
nouns as fun, a measure of weight. But a number of others have 
got into the common speech of the whole country, e. g., fan-tan, 
kow-tow, chop-suey, ginseng, joss, yok-a-mi and tong. Contrary 
to the popular opinion, dope and hop are not from the Chinese. 


Neither, in fact, is an Americanism, though the former has one 
meaning that is specially American, *. e., that of information or 
formula, as in racing-dope and to dope out. Most etymologists 
derive the word from the Dutch doop, a sauce. In English, as in 
American, it signifies a thick liquid, and hence the viscous cooked 
opium. Hop is simply the common name of the Humuluslupulus. 
The belief that hops have a soporific effect is very ancient, and 
hop-pillows were brought to America by the first English colo- 

The derivation of poker, which came into American from Cali- 
fornia in the days of the gold rush, has puzzled etymologists. It 
is commonly derived from primero, the name of a somewhat sim- 
ilar game, popular in England in the sixteenth century, but the 
relation seems rather fanciful. It may possibly come, indirectly, 
from the Danish word pokker, signifying the devil. Pokerish, in 
the sense of alarming, was a common adjective in the United 
States .before the Civil War; Thornton gives an example dated 
1827. Schele de Vere says that poker, in the sense of a hobgob- 
lin, was still in use in 1871, but he derives the name of the game 
from the French poche (=pouche, pocket). He seems to believe 
that the bank or pool, in the early days, was called the poke. 
Barrere and Leland, rejecting all these guesses, derive poker 
from the Yiddish pochger, which comes in turn from the verb 
pochgen, signifying to conceal winnings or losses. This pochgen 
is obviously related to the German pocher (= boaster, braggart). 
There were a good many German Jews in California in the early 
days, and they were ardent gamblers. If Barrere and Leland 
are correct, then poker enjoys the honor of being the first loan- 
word taken into American from the Yiddish. 


Pronunciation Noah Webster, as we saw in the last chapter, 
sneered at the broad a, in 1789, as an Anglomaniac affectation. 
In the course of the next 25 years, however, he seems to have suf- 
fered a radical change of mind, for in "The American Spelling 
Book," published in 1817, he ordained it in ask, last, mass, aunt, 


grant, glass and their analogues, and in his 1829 revision he clung 
to this pronunciation, beside adding master, pastor, amass, quaff, 
laugh, craft, etc., and even massive. There is some difficulty, 
however, in determining just what sound he proposed to give the 
a, for there are several a-sounds that pass as broad, and the two 
main ones differ considerably. One appears in all, and may be 
called the aw-sound. The other is in art, and may be called the 
a/t-sound. A quarter of a century later Richard Grant White 
distinguished between the two, and denounced the former as "a 
British peculiarity." Frank H. Vizetelly, writing in 1917, still 
noted the difference, particularly in such words as daunt, saun- 
ter and laundry. It is probable that Webster, in most cases, 
intended to advocate the a/t-sound, as in father, for this pronun- 
ciation now prevails in New England. Even there, however, the 
a often drops to a point midway between ah and aa, though never 
actually descending to the flat aa, as in an, at and anatomy. 

But the imprimatur of the Yankee Johnson was not potent 
enough to stay the course of nature, and, save in New England, 
the flat a swept the country. He himself allowed it in stamp and 
vase. His successor and rival, Lyman Cobb, decided for it in 
pass, draft, stamp and dance, though he kept to the aft-sound in 
laugh, path, daunt and saunter. By 1850 the flat a was domi- 
nant everywhere West of the Berkshires and South of New 
Haven, and had even got into such proper names as Lafayette 
and Nevada* 1 

Webster failed in a number of his other attempts to influence 
American pronunciation. His advocacy of deef for deaf had 
popular support while he lived, and he dredged up authority for 
it out of Chaucer and Sir William Temple, but the present pro- 
nunciation gradually prevailed, though deef remains familiar in 
the common speech. Joseph E. Worcester and other rival lexi- 
cographers stood against many of his pronunciations, and he took 
the field against them in the prefaces to the successive editions of 
his spelling-books. Thus, in that to "The Elementary Spelling 

41 Richard Meade Bache denounced it, in Lafayette, during the 60's. 
Vide his Vulgarisms and Other Errors of Speech, 2nd ed., Philadelphia, 
1869, p. 65. 


Book," dated 1829, he denounced the "affectation" of inserting a 
2/-sound before the u in such words as gradual and nature, with 
its compensatory change of d into a French j and of t into ch. 
The English lexicographer, John Walker, had argued for this 
"affectation" in 1791, but Webster's prestige, while he lived, 
remained so high in some quarters that he carried the day, and 
the older professors at Yale, it is said, continued to use natur 
down to 1839. 42 He favored the pronunciation of either and 
neither as ee-ther and nee-ther, and so did most of the English 
authorities of his time. The original pronunciation of the first 
syllable, in England, probably made it rhyme with bay, but the 
ee-sound was firmly established by the end of the eighteenth cen- 
tury. Toward the middle of the following century, however, 
there arose a fashion of an ai-sound, and this affectation was bor- 
rowed by certain Americans. Gould, in the 50 's, put the ques- 
tion, "Why do you say t-ther and m-ther?" to various Ameri- 
cans. The reply he got was: "The words are so pronounced 
by the best-educated people in England." This imitation still 
prevails in the cities of the East. "All of us," says Lounsbury, 
"are privileged in these latter days frequently to witness painful 
struggles put forth to give to the first syllable of these words the 
sound of i by those who have been brought up to give it the sound 
of e. There is apparently an impression on the part of some that 
such a pronunciation establishes on a firm foundation an other- 
wise doubtful social standing." 43 But the vast majority of 
Americans continue to say ee-ther and not eye-ther. White and 
Vizetelly, like Lounsbury, argue that they are quite correct in so 
doing. The use of eye-ther, says White, is no more than ' ' a copy 
of a second-rate British affectation." 

<2 R. J. Menner: The Pronunciation of English in America, Atlantic 
Monthly, March, 1915, p. 361. 

*3The Standard of Pronunciation in English, pp. 109-112. 


American and English Today 

The Two Vocabularies By way of preliminary to an exami- 
nation of the American of today I offer a brief list of terms in 
common use that differ in American and English. Here are 
200 of them, all chosen from the simplest colloquial vocabularies 
and without any attempt at plan or completeness : 


__ baggage-car 

ballast (railroad) 



bid (noun) 


boardwalk (seaside) 

bond (finance) 




bumper (car) 


calendar (court) 

campaign (political) 

can (noun) 








luggage- van 









Blucher, or Wellington 




chest of drawers 









car (railroad) 
checkers (game) 
clipping (newspaper) 
conductor (of a train) 

corner (of a street) 


Derby (hat) 
- dime-novel 
frog (railway) 
garters (men's) 
grade (railroad) 


carriage, van or waggon 

maize, or Indian corn 


leader, or leading-article 















hospital (private) 




Indian Summer 








locomotive engineer 







napkin (dinner) 






orchestra (seats in a theatre) 


_, .-parlor 

^-patrolman (police) 












coster (monger) 


Red Indian 

St. Martin's Summer 


hire-purchase plan 




mews x 




Wesley an 





tie, or cravat 


pressman, or journalist 
' porridge 






- constable 

i It should be noted that mews is used only in the larger cities. In the 
small towns livery-stable is commoner. Mews is quite unknown in America 
save as an occasional archaism. 






pie (fruit) 






press (printing) 

program (of a meeting) 







rare (of meat) 

receipts (in business) 


road-bed (railroad) 



















silver (collectively) 






























return -ticket 





























suspenders (men's) 


switch (noun, railway) 

switch (verb, railway) 

taxes (municipal) 

taxpayer (local) 

tenderloin (of beef) 






track (railroad) 


transom (of door) 

^X'truck (vehicle) 

truck (of a railroad car) 


typewriter (operator) 





. warden (of a prison) 






whipple-tree 2 



2 Sometimes whiffle-tree. 









tube, or underground 





































Differences in Usage The differences here listed, most of them 
between words in everyday employment, are but examples of a 
divergence in usage which extends to every department of daily 
life. In his business, in his journeys from his home to his office, 
in his dealings with his family and servants, in his sports and 
amusements, in his politics and even in his religion the American 
uses, not only words and phrases, but whole syntactical construc- 
tions, that are unintelligible to the Englishman, or intelligible 
only after laborious consideration. A familiar anecdote offers 
an example in miniature. It concerns a young American woman 
living in a region of prolific orchards who is asked by a visiting 
Englishman what the residents do with so much fruit. Her 
reply is a pun : ' ' We eat all we can, and what we can 't we can. ' ' 
This answer would mystify nine Englishmen out of ten, for in 
the first place it involves the use of the flat American a in can't 
and in the second place it applies an unfamiliar name to the 
vessel that every Englishman knows as a tin, and then adds to 
the confusion by deriving a verb from the substantive. There 
are no such things as canned-goods in England ; over there they 
are tinned. The can that holds them is a tin; to can them is to 
tin them. . . . And they are counted, not as groceries, but as 
stores, and advertised, not on bill-boards but on hoardings. 3 And 
the cook who prepares them for the table is not Nora or Maggie, 
but Cook, and if she does other work in addition she is not a 
girl for general housework, but a cook-general, and not help, but 
a servant. And the boarder who eats them is not a boarder at all, 
but a paying-guest, though he is said to board. And the grave of 
the tin, once it is emptied, is not the ash-can, but the dust-bin, 
and the man who carries it away is not the garbage-man or the 
ash-man or the white-wings, but the dustman. 

An Englishman, entering his home, does not walk in upon the 

s The latter has crept into American of late. I find it on p. 58 of The 
United States at War, a pamphlet issued by the Library of Congress, 
1917. The compiler of this pamphlet is a savant bearing the fine old 
British name of Herman H. B. Meyer. 


first floor, but upon the ground floor. What he calls the first 
floor (or, more commonly, first storey, not forgetting the penulti- 
mate e!} is what we call the second floor, and so on up to the 
roof which is covered not with tin, but with slate, tiles or leads. 
He does not take a paper; he takes in a paper. He does not ask 
his servant, ' ' is there any mail for me ? " but, ' ' are there any let- 
ters for me ? " for mail, in the American sense, is a word that he 
seldom uses, save in such compounds as mail-van and mail-train. 
He always speaks of it as the post.- The man who brings it is 
not a letter-carrier, but a postman. It is posted, not mailed, at 
a pillar-box, not at a mail-box. It never includes postal-cards, 
but only post-cards; never money-orders, but only postal-orders. 
The Englishman dictates his answers, not to a typewriter, but to 
a typist; a typewriter is merely the machine. If he desires the 
recipient to call him by telephone he doesn't say, "phone me at a 
quarter of eight," but "ring me up at a quarter to eight." And 
when the call comes he says "are you there f" When he gets 
home, he doesn't find his wife waiting for him in the parlor or 
living-room, 4 but in the drawing-room or in her sitting-room, and 
the tale of domestic disaster that she has to tell does not concern 
the hired-girl but the slavey and the scullery -maid. He doesn't 
bring her a box of candy, but a box of sweets. He doesn't leave 
a derby hat in the hall, but a bowler. His wife doesn't wear 
shirtwaists but blouses. When she buys one she doesn't say 
"charge it" but "put it down." When she orders a tailor-made 
suit, she calls it a coat-and-skirt. When she wants a spool of 
thread she asks for a reel of cotton. Such things are bought, not 
in the department-stores, but at the stores, which are substan- 
tially the same thing. In these stores calico means a plain cotton 
cloth; in the United States it means a printed cotton cloth. 
Things bought on the instalment plan in England are said to be 
bought on the hire-purchase plan or system ; the instalment busi- 
ness itself is the credit-trade. Goods ordered by post (not mail) 
on which the dealer pays the cost of transportation are said to be 
sent, not postpaid or prepaid, but post-free or carriage-paid. 

apparently suggested, in America, by the German wohnzimmer. 

4 Living-room, however, is gradually making its way in England. It was 


An Englishman does not wear suspenders and neckties, but 
braces and cravats. Suspenders are his wife 's garters ; his own 
are sock-suspenders. The family does not seek sustenance in a 
rare tenderloin and squash, but in underdone under-cut and vege- 
table marrow. It does not eat beets, but beet-roots. The wine 
on the table, if miraculously German, is not Rhine wine, but 
Hock. . . . The maid who laces the stays of the mistress of the 
house is not Maggie but Robinson. The nurse-maid is not Lizzie 
but Nurse. So, by the way, is a trained nurse in a hospital, whose 
full style is not Miss Jones, but Nurse Jones. And the hospital 
itself, if private, is not a hospital at all, but a nursing-home, and 
its trained nurses are plain nurses, or hospital nurses, or maybe 
nursing sisters. And the white-clad young gentlemen who make 
love to them are not studying medicine but walking the hospitals. 
Similarly, an English law student does not study law, but the 

If an English boy goes to a public school, it is not a sign that 
he is getting his education free, but that his father is paying a 
good round sum for it and is accepted as a gentleman. A public 
school over there corresponds to our prep school; it is a place 
maintained chiefly by endowments, wherein boys of the upper 
classes are prepared for the universities. What we know as a 
public school is called a board school in England, not because the 
pupils are boarded but because it is managed by a school board. 
English school-boys are divided, not into classes, or grades, but 
into forms, which are numbered, the lowest being the first form. 
The benches they sit on are also called forms. The principal of 
an English school is a head-master or head-mistress; the lower 
pedagogues used to be ushers, but are now assistant masters (or 
mistresses). The head of a university is a chancellor. He is 
always some eminent public man, and a vice-chancellor performs 
his duties. The head of a mere college may be a president, prin- 
cipal, rector, dean or provost. At the universities the students 
are not divided into freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, 
as with us, but are simply first-year men, second-year men, and so 
on. Such distinctions, however, are not as important in England 
as in America; members of the university (they are called mem- 


bers, not students} do not flock together according to seniority. 
An English university man does not study; he reads. He knows 
nothing of frats, class-days, senior-proms and such things; save 
at Cambridge and Dublin he does not even have a commencement. 
On the other hand his daily speech is full of terms unintelligible 
to an American student, for example, wrangler, tripos, head, pass- 
degree and don. 

The upkeep of board-schools in England comes out of the rates, 
which are local taxes levied upon householders. For that reason 
an English municipal taxpayer is called a ratepayer. The func- 
tionaries who collect and spend his money are not office-holders 
but public-servants. The head of the local police is not a chief of 
police, but a chief constable. The fire department is the fire 
brigade. The street-cleaner is a crossing-sweeper. The parish 
poorhouse is a workhouse. If it is maintained by two or more 
parishes jointly it becomes a union. A pauper who accepts its 
hospitality is said to be on the rates. A policeman is a bobby 
familiarly and constable officially. He is commonly mentioned in 
the newspapers, not by his surname, but as P. C. 643a i. e., 
Police Constable No. 643a. The fire laddie, the ward executive, 
the roundsman, the strong-arm squad and other such objects of 
American devotion are unknown in England. An English sa- 
loon-keeper is officially a licensed victualler. His saloon is a 
public house, or, colloquially, a pub. He does not sell beer by 
the bucket or can or growler or schooner, but by the pint. He 
and his brethren, taken together, are the licensed trade. His 
back-room is a parlor. If he has a few upholstered benches in 
his place he usually calls it a lounge. He employs no bartenders 
or mixologists. 'Barmaids do the work, with maybe a barman to 

The American language, as we have seen, has begun to take 
in the English boot and shop, and it is showing hospitality to 
head-master, haberdasher and week-end, but subaltern, civil serv- 
ant, porridge, moor, draper, treacle, tram and mufti are still 
strangers in the United States, as bleachers, picayune, air-line, 
campus, chore, scoot, stogie and hoodoo are in England. A sub- 
altern is a commissioned officer in the army, under the rank of 


captain. A civil servant is a public servant in the national civil 
service; if he is of high rank, he is usually called a permanent 
official. Porridge, moor, scullery, draper, treacle and tram, 
though unfamiliar, still need no explanation. Mufti means ordi- 
nary male clothing ; an army officer out of uniform is said to be in 
mufti. To this officer a sack-suit or business-suit is a lounge- 
suit. He carries his clothes, not in a trunk or grip or suit-case, 
but in a box. He does not mm a train ; he loses it. He does not 
ask for a round-trip ticket, but for a return ticket. If he pro- 
poses to go to the theatre he does not reserve or engage seats ; he 
books them, and not at the box-office, but at the booking-office. 
If he sits downstairs, it is not in the orchestra, but in the stalls. 
If he likes vaudeville, he goes to a music-hall, where the head- 
liners are top-liners. If he has to stand in line, he does it, not in 
a line, but in a queue. 

In England a corporation is a public company or limited lia- 
bility company. The term corporation, over there, is applied to 
the mayor, aldermen and sheriffs of a city, as in the London 
corporation. An Englishman writes Ltd. after the name of an 
incorporated bank or trading company as we write Inc. He calls 
its president its chairman or managing director. Its stockhold- 
ers are its shareholders, and hold shares instead of stock in it. 
Its bonds are debentures. The place wherein such companies are 
floated and looted the Wall Street of England is called the 
City, with a capital C. Bankers, stock-jobbers, promoters, di- 
rectors and other such leaders of its business are called City 
men. The financial editor of a newspaper is its City editor. 
Government bonds are consols, or stocks, or the funds. 5 To have 
money in the stocks is to own such bonds. Promissory notes are 
bills. An Englishman hasn't a bank-account, but a banking- 
account. He draws cheques (not checks), not on his bank, but 
on his bankers. 6 In England there is a rigid distinction between 
a broker and a stock-broker. A broker means, not a dealer in 

6 This form survives in the American term city-stock, meaning the bonds 
of a municipality. But government securities are always called bonds. 

Cf. A Glossary of Colloquial Slang and Technical Terms in Use in the 
Stock Exchange and in the Money Market, by A. J. Wilson, London, 1895. 


securities, as in our Wall Street broker, but a dealer in second- 
hand furniture. To have the brokers 7 in the house means to be 
bankrupt, with one's very household goods in the hands of one's 

Tariff reform, in England, does not mean a movement toward 
free trade, but one toward protection. The word Government, 
meaning what we call the administration, is always capitalized 
and plural, e. g., ' ' The Government are considering the advis- 
ability, etc." Vestry, committee, council, ministry and even 
company are also plural, though sometimes not capitalized. A 
member of Parliament does not run for office; he stands. 8 He 
does not make a campaign, but a canvass. He does not repre- 
sent a district, but a division or constituency. He never makes 
a stumping trip, but always a speaking tour. When he looks 
after his fences he calls it nursing the constituency. At a politi- 
cal meeting (they are often rough in England) the bouncers are 
called stewards; the suffragettes used to delight in stabbing them 
with hatpins. A member of Parliament is not afflicted by the 
numerous bugaboos that menace an American congressman. He 
knows nothing of lame ducks, pork barrels, gag-rule, junkets, 
gerrymanders, omnibus bills, snakes, niggers in the woodpile, 
Salt river, crow, bosses, ward heelers, men higher up, silk-stock- 
ings, repeaters, ballot-box stuff 'ers and straight and split tickets 
(he always calls them ballots or voting papers). He has never 
heard of direct primaries, the recall or the initiative and refer- 
endum. A roll-call in Parliament is a division. A member 
speaking is said to be up or on his legs. When the house ad- 
journs it is said to rise. A member referring to another in the 
course of a debate does not say "the gentleman from Manches- 
ter," but "the honorable gentleman" (written hon. gentleman) 
or, if he happens to be a privy councillor, "the right honorable 
gentleman," or, if he is a member for one of the universities, 
"the honorable and learned gentleman." If the speaker chooses 
to be intimate or facetious, he may say "my honorable friend." 

7 Or bailiffs. 

8 But he is run by his party organization. Cf. The Government of Eng- 
land, by A. Lawrence Lowell; New York, 1910, vol. ii, p. 29. 


In the United States a pressman is a man who runs a printing 
press ; in England he is a newspaper reporter, or, as the English 
usually say, a journalist. 9 This journalist works, not at space 
rates, but at lineage rates. A printing press is a machine. An 
editorial in a newspaper is a leading article or leader. An 
editorial paragraph is a leaderette. A newspaper clipping is a 
cutting. A proof-reader is a corrector of the press. A pass to 
the theatre is an order. The room-clerk of a hotel is the secre- 
tary. A real-estate agent or dealer is an estate-agent. The Eng- 
lish keep up most of the old distinctions between physicians and 
surgeons, barristers and solicitors. A surgeon is often plain 
Mr., and not Dr. Neither he nor a doctor has an office, but al- 
ways a surgery or consulting room. A barrister is greatly supe- 
rior to a solicitor. He alone can address the higher courts and 
the parliamentary committees; a solicitor must keep to office 
work and the courts of first instance. A man with a grievance 
goes first to his solicitor, who then instructs or briefs a barrister 
for him. If that barrister, in the course of the trial, wants cer- 
tain evidence removed from the record, he moves that it be struck 
out, not stricken out, as an American lawyer would say. Only 
barristers may become judges. An English barrister, like his 
American brother, takes a retainer when he is engaged. But the 
rest of his fee does not wait upon the termination of the case : he 
expects and receives a refresher from time to time. A barrister 
is never admitted to the bar, but is always called. If he becomes 
a King's Counsel, or K. C. (a purely honorary appointment), he 
is said to have taken silk. 

The common objects and phenomena of nature are often differ- 
ently named in English and American. As we saw in a previous 
chapter, such Americanisms as creek and run, for small streams, 
are practically unknown in England, and the English moor and 
downs early disappeared from American. The Englishman 
knows the meaning of sound (e.g., Long Island Sound), but he 

Until very recently no self-respecting American newspaper reporter 
would call himself a journalist. He always used newspaper man, and re- 
ferred to his vocation, not as a profession, but as the newspaper business. 
This old prejudice, however, now seems to be breaking down. Cf. Don't 
Shy at Journalist, the Editor and Publisher and Journalist, June 27, 1914. 

nearly always uses channel in place of it. In the same way the 
American knows the meaning of the English bog, but rejects the 
English distinction between it and swamp, and almost always 
uses swamp, or marsh (often elided to ma'sh). The Englishman 
seldom, if ever, describes a severe storm as a hurricane, a cyclone, 
a tornado or a blizzard. He never uses cold-snap, cloudburst or 
under the weather. He does not say that the temperature is 29 
degrees (Fahrenheit) or that the thermometer or the mercury is 
at 29 degrees, but that there are three degrees of frost. He calls 
ice water iced-water. He knows nothing of blue-grass country 
or of penny r'yal. What we call the mining regions he knows as 
the black country. He never, of course, uses down-East or up- 
State. Many of our names for common fauna and flora are un- 
known to him save as strange Americanisms, e. g., terrapin, moose, 
persimmon, gumbo, egg-plant, alfalfa, sweet-corn, sweet-potato 
and yam. Until lately he called the grapefruit a shaddock. He 
still calls the beet a beet-root and the rutabaga a mangel-wurzel. 
He is familiar with many fish that we seldom see, e. g., the turbot. 
He also knows the hare, which is seldom heard of in America. 
But he knows nothing of devilled-crabs, crab-cocktails, clam- 
chowder or oyster-stews, and he never goes to oyster-suppers, 
clam-bakes or burgoo-picnics. He doesn't buy peanuts when he 
goes to the circus. He calls them monkey-nuts, and to eat them 
publicly is infra dig. The common American use of peanut as 
an adjective of disparagement, as in peanut politics, is incom- 
prehensible to him. 

In England a hack is not a public coach, but a horse let out at 
hire, or one of similar quality. A life insurance policy is usually 
not an insurance policy at all, but an assurance policy. What 
we call the normal income tax is the ordinary tax ; what we call 
the surtax is the supertax. An Englishman never lives on a 
street, but always in it. He never lives in a block of houses, but 
in a row; it is never in a section of the city, but always in a 
district. Going home by train he always takes the down-train, 
no matter whether he be proceeding southward to Wimbleton, 

iC/. a speech of Senator La Toilette, Congressional Record, Aug. 27, 
1917, p. 6992. 


westward to Shepherd's Bush, northward to Tottenham or east- 
ward to Noak's Hill. A train headed toward London is always 
an up-train, and the track it runs on is the up-line. Eastbound 
and westbound tracks and trains are unknown in England. 
When an Englishman boards a bus it is not at a street-corner, 
but at a crossing, though he is familiar with such forms as Hyde 
Park Corner. The place he is bound for is not three squares or 
blocks away, but three turnings. Square, in England, always 
means a small park. A backyard is a garden. A subway is 
always a tube, or the underground, or the Metro. But an under- 
ground passage for pedestrians is a subway. English streets 
have no sidewalks; they always call them pavements or footways. 
An automobile is always a motor-car or motor. Auto is almost 
unknown, and with it the verb to auto. So is machine. So is 

An Englishman always calls russet, yellow or tan shoes brown 
shoes (or, if they cover the ankle, boots}. He calls a pocketbook 
a purse, and gives the name of pocketbook to what we call a 
memorandum-book. His walking-stick is always a stick, never a 
cane. By cord he means something strong, almost what we call 
twine; a thin cord he always calls a string; his twine is the light- 
est sort of string. When he applies the adjective homely to a 
woman he means that she is simple and home-loving, not neces- 
sarily that she is plain. He uses dessert, not to indicate the 
whole last course at dinner, but to designate the fruit only ; the 
rest is ices or sweets. He uses vest, not in place of waistcoat, but 
in place of undershirt. Similarly, he applies pants, not to his 
trousers, but to his drawers. An Englishman who inhabits bach- 
elor quarters is said to live in chambers; if he has a flat he calls 
it a flat, and not an apartment; " flat-houses are often mansions. 
The janitor or superintendent thereof is a care-taker. The 
scoundrels who snoop around in search of divorce evidence are 
not private detectives, but private enquiry agents. 

11 According to the New International Encyclopedia, 2nd ed. (Art. 
Apartment House), the term flat "is usually in the United States restricted 
to apartments in houses having no elevator or hall service." In New York 
such apartments are commonly called walk-up apartments. Even with the 
qualification, apartment is better than flat. 


The Englishman is naturally unfamiliar with baseball, and in 
consequence his language is bare of the countless phrases and 
metaphors that it has supplied to American. Many of these 
phrases and metaphors are in daily use among us, for example, 
fan, rooter, bleachers, batting-average, double-header, pennant- 
winner, gate-money, busher, minor-leaguer, glass-arm, to strike 
out, to foul, to be shut out, to coach, to play ball, on the bench, 
on to his curves and three strikes and out. The national game of 
draw-poker has also greatly enriched American with terms that 
are either quite unknown to the Englishman, or known to him 
only as somewhat dubious Americanisms, among them cold-deck, 
kitty, full-house, divvy, a card up his sleeve, three-of-a-kind, to 
ante up, to pony up, to hold out, to cash in, to go it one better, 
to chip in and for keeps. But the Englishman uses many more 
racing terms and metaphors than we do, and he has got a good 
many phrases from other games, particularly cricket. The word 
cricket itself has a definite figurative meaning. It indicates, in 
general, good sportsmanship. To take unfair advantage of an 
opponent is not cricket. The sport of boating, so popular on the 
Thames, has also given colloquial English some familiar terms, 
almost unknown in the United States, e. g., punt and weir. Con- 
trariwise, pungy, batteau and scow are unheard of in England, 
and canoe is not long emerged from the estate of an American- 
ism. 12 The game known as ten-pins in America is called nine- 
pins in England, and once had that name over here. The Puri- 
tans forbade it, and its devotees changed its name in order to 
evade the prohibition. 13 Finally, there is soccer, a form of foot- 
ball quite unknown in the United States. What we call simply 
football is Rugby or Rugger to the Englishman. The word 
soccer is derived from association; the rules of the game were 

12 Canoeing was introduced into England by John MacGregor in 1866, 
and there is now a Royal Canoe Club. In America the canoe has been 
familiar from the earliest times, and in Mme. Sarah Kemble Knight's diary 
(1704) there is much mention of cannoos. The word itself is from an 
Indian dialect, probably the Haitian, and came into American through the 
Spanish, in which it survives as canoa. 

is "An act was passed to prohibit playing nine-pins; as soon as the law 
was put in force, it was notified everywhere, 'Ten-pins played here.' " 
Capt. Marryat: Diary in America, vol. iii, p. 195. 


established by the London Football Association. Soccer is one of 
the relatively few English experiments in ellipsis. Another is to 
be found in Bakerloo, the name of one of the London under- 
ground lines, from Baker-street and Waterloo, its termini. 

The English have an ecclesiastical vocabulary with which we 
are almost unacquainted, and it is in daily use, for the church 
bulks large in public affairs over there. Such terms as vicar, 
canon, verger, prebendary, primate, curate, non-conformist, dis- 
senter, convocation, minster, chapter, crypt, living, presentation, 
glebe, benefice, locum tenens, suffragan, almoner, dean and plu- 
ralist are to be met with in the English newspapers constantly, 
but on this side of the water they are seldom encountered. Nor 
do we hear much of matins, lauds, lay-readers, ritualism and the 
liturgy. The English use of holy orders is also strange to us. 
They do not say that a young man is studying for the ministry, 
but that he is reading for holy orders. They do not say that he 
is ordained, but that he takes orders. Save he be in the United 
Free Church of Scotland, he is never a minister; save he be a 
nonconformist, he is never a pastor; a clergyman of the Estab- 
lishment is always either a rector, a vicar or a curate, and collo- 
quially a parson. 

In American chapel simply means a small church, usually the 
branch of some larger one ; in English it has the special sense of 
a place of worship unconnected with the establishment. Though 
three-fourths of the people of Ireland are Catholics (in Munster 
and Connaught, more than nine-tenths), and the Protestant 
Church of Ireland has been disestablished since 1871, a Catholic 
place of worship in the country is still a chapel and not a 
church. So is a Methodist wailing-place in England, however 
large it may be, though now and then tabernacle is substituted. 
In the same way the English Catholics sometimes vary chapel 
with oratory, as in Brompton Oratory. A Methodist, in Great 

i* "The term chapel," says Joyce, in English as We Speak It in Ireland, 
has so ingrained itself in my mind that to this hour the word instinctively 
springs to my lips when I am about to mention a Catholic place of wor- 
ship; and I always feel some sort of hesitation or reluctance in substituting 
the word church. I positively could not bring myself to say, 'Come, it is 
time now to set out for church.' It must be either mass or chapel." 


Britain, is not a Methodist, but a Wesleyan. Contrariwise, what 
the English call simply a churchman is an Episcopalian in the 
United States, what they call the Church (always capitalized!) is 
the Protestant Episcopal Church, 15 what they call a Roman 
Catholic is simply a Catholic, and what they call a Jew is usually 
softened (if he happens to be an advertiser) to a Hebrew. The 
English Jews have no such idiotic fear of the plain name as that 
which afflicts the more pushing and obnoxious of the race in 
America. 10 "News of Jewry" is a common head-line in the Lon- 
don Daily Telegraph, which is owned by Lord Burnham, a Jew, 
and has had many Jews on its staff, including Judah P. Benja- 
min, the American. The American language, of course, knows 
nothing of dissenters. Nor of such gladiators of dissent as the 
Plymouth Brethren, nor of the nonconformist conscience, though 
the United States suffers from it even more damnably than Eng- 
land. The English, to make it even, get on without circuit- 
riders, holy-rollers, Dunkards, Seventh Day Adventists and other 
such American ferae naturae, and are born, live, die and go to 
heaven without the aid of either the uplift or the chautauqua. 

In music the English cling to an archaic and unintelligible 
nomenclature, long since abandoned in America. Thus they call 
a double whole note a breve, a whole note a semibreve, a half note 
a minim, a quarter note a crotchet, an eighth note a quaver, a 
sixteenth note a semi-quaver, a thirty-second note a demisemi- 
quaver, and a sixty-fourth note a hemidemisemiquaver, or semi- 
demisemiquaver. If, by any chance, an English musician should 
write a one-hundred-and-twenty-eighth note he probably wouldn't 
know what to call it. This clumsy terminology goes back to the 
days of plain chant, with its longa, brevis, semi-brevis, minima 
and semiminima. The French and Italians cling to a system al- 
most as confusing, but the Germans use ganze, halbe, viertel, 

is Certain dissenters, of late, show a disposition to borrow the American 
usage. Thus the Christian World, organ of the English Congregational- 
ists, uses Episcopal to designate the Church of England. 

i So long ago as the 70's certain Jews petitioned the publishers of Web- 
ster's and Worcester's dictionaries to omit their definitions of the verb 
to jew, and according to Richard Grant White, the publisher of Worcester's 
complied. Such a request, in England, would be greeted with derision. 


achtel, etc. I have been unable to discover the beginnings of 
the American system, but it would seem to be borrowed from 
the German. Since the earliest times the majority of music 
teachers in the United States have been Germans, and most of 
the rest have had German training. 

In the same way the English hold fast to a clumsy and inac- 
curate method of designating the sizes of printers' types. In 
America the simple point system makes the business easy ; a line 
of Id-point type occupies exactly the vertical space of two lines 
of 7-point. But the English still indicate differences in size by 
such arbitrary and confusing names as brilliant, diamond, small 
pearl, pearl, ruby, ruby-nonpareil, nonpareil, minion-nonpareil, 
emerald, minion, brevier, bourgeois, long primer, small pica, pica, 
English, great primer and double pica. They also cling to a 
fossil system of numerals in stating ages. Thus, an Englishman 
will say that he is seven-and-forty, not that he is forty-seven. 
This is probably a direct survival, preserved by more than a 
thousand years of English conservatism, of the Anglo-Saxon 
seofan-and-feowertig. He will also say that he weighs eleven 
stone instead of 154 pounds. A stone is 14 pounds, and it is 
always used in stating the heft of a man. Finally, he employs 
such designations of time as fortnight and twelvemonth a great 
deal more than we do, and has certain special terms of which we 
know nothing, for example, quarter-day, bank holiday, long vaca- 
tion, Lady Day and Michaelmas. Per contra, he knows nothing 
whatever of our Thanksgiving, Arbor, Labor and Decoration 
Days, or of legal holidays, or of Yom Kippur. 

In English usage, to proceed, the word directly is always used 
to signify immediately; in American a contingency gets into it, 
and it may mean no more than soon. In England quite means 
"completely, wholly, entirely, altogether, to the utmost extent, 
nothing short of, in the fullest sense, positively, absolutely " ; in 
America it is conditional, and means only nearly, approximately, 
substantially, as in "he sings quite well." An Englishman does 
not say "I will pay you up" for an injury, but "I will pay you 
back." He doesn't look up a definition in a dictionary; he looks 
it out. He doesn't say, being ill, "I am getting on well," but 


"I am going on well." He doesn't use the American "different 
from" or "different than"; he uses "different to." He never 
adds the pronoun in such locutions as "it hurts me," but says 
simply "it hurts." He never "catches up with you" on the 
street ; he " catches you up." He never says ' ' are you through ? ' ' 
but "have you finished?" He never uses to notify as a transi- 
tive verb ; an official act may be notified, but not a person. He 
never uses gotten as the perfect participle of get; he always uses 
plain got. An English servant never washes the dishes; she 
always washes the dinner or tea things. She doesn't live out, 
but goes into service. She smashes, not the mirror, but the look- 
ing-glass. Her beau is not her fellow, but her young man. She 
does not keep company with him but walks out with him. 

That an Englishman always calls out "I say!", and not sim- 
ply "say!" when he desires to attract a friend's attention or 
register a protestation of incredulity this perhaps is too familiar 
to need notice. His "hear, hear!" and "oh, oh!" are also well 
known. He is much less prodigal with good-bye than the Ameri- 
can; he uses good-day and good-afternoon far more often. A 
shop-assistant would never say good-bye to a customer. To an 
Englishman it would have a subtly offensive smack ; good-after- 
noon would be more respectful. Another word that makes him 
flinch is dirt. He never uses it, as we do, to describe the soil in 
the garden ; he always says earth. Various very common Ameri- 
can phrases are quite unknown to him, for example, over his 
signature, on time and planted to corn. The first-named he never 
uses, and he has no equivalent for it ; an Englishman who issues 
a signed statement simply makes it in writing. He knows noth- 
ing of our common terms of disparagement, such as kike, wop, 
yap and rube. His pet-name for a tiller of the soil is not Rube 
or Cy, but Hodge. When he goes gunning he does not call it 
hunting, but shooting; hunting is reserved for the chase of the 

An intelligent Englishwoman, coming to America to live, told 
me -that the two things which most impeded her first communi- 
cations with untravelled Americans, even above the gross differ 

17 But nevertheless he uses begotten, not begot. 


ences between England and American pronunciation and intona- 
tion, were the complete absence of the general utility adjective 
jolly from the American vocabulary, and the puzzling omnipres- 
ence and versatility of the American verb to fix. In English 
colloquial usage jolly means almost anything; it intensifies all 
other adjectives, even including miserable and homesick. An 
Englishman is jolly tired, jolly hungry or jolly well tired; his 
wife is jolly sensible ; his dog is jolly keen ; the prices he pays for 
things are jolly dear (never steep or stiff or high: all American- 
isms) . But he has no noun to match the American proposition, 
meaning proposal, business, affair, case, consideration, plan, 
theory, solution and what not: only the German zug can be 
ranged beside it. 18 And he has no verb in such wide practise as 
to fix. In his speech it means only to make fast or to determine. 
In American it may mean to repair, as in "the plumber fixed 
the pipe"; to dress, as in "Mary fixed her hair"; to prepare, as 
in "the cook is fixing the gravy"; to bribe, as in "the judge was 
fixed"; to settle, as in "the quarrel was fixed up"; to heal, as in 
"the doctor fixed his boil"; to finish, as in "Murphy fixed 
Sweeney in the third round"; to be well-to-do, as in "John is 
well- fixed"; to arrange, as in "I fixed up the quarrel"; to be 
drunk, as in "the whiskey fixed him"; to punish, as in "I'll fix 
him"; and to correct, as in "he fixed my bad Latin." More- 
over, it is used in all its English senses. An Englishman never 
goes to a dentist to have his teeth fixed. He does not fix the 
fire ; he makes it up, or mends it. He is never well- fixed, either 
in money or by liquor. 19 

The English use quite a great deal more than we do, and, 
as we have seen, in a different sense. Quite rich, in American, 

is This specimen is from the Congressional Record of Dec. 11, 1917: "I 
do not like to be butting into this proposition, but I look upon this post- 
office business as a purely business proposition." The speaker was "Hon" 
Homer P. Snyder, of New York. In the Record of Jan. 12, 1918, p. 8294, 
proposition is used as a synonym for state of affairs. 

i Already in 1855 Bristed was protesting that to fix was having "more 
than its legitimate share of work all over the Union." "In English 
conversation," he said, "the panegyrical adjective of all work is nice; 
in America it is fine." This was before the adoption of jolly and its 
analogues, ripping, stunning, rattling, etc. 


means tolerably rich, richer than most; quite so, in English, is 
identical in meaning with exactly so. In American just is al- 
most equivalent to the English quite, as in just lovely. Thornton 
shows that this use of just goes back to 1794. The word is also 
used in place of exactly in other ways, as in just in time, just 
how many and just what do you mean? 


Honorifics Among the honorifics and euphemisms in everyday 
use one finds many notable divergences between the two lan- 
guages. On the one hand the English are almost as diligent as 
the Germans in bestowing titles of honor upon their men of 
mark, and on the other hand they are very careful to withhold 
such titles from men who do not legally bear them. In Amer- 
ica every practitioner of any branch of the healing art, even a 
chiropodist or an osteopath, is a doctor ipso facto, but in Eng- 
land, as we have seen, a good many surgeons lack the title and 
it is not common in the lesser ranks. Even graduate physicians 
may not have it, but here there is a yielding of the usual meticu- 
lous exactness, and it is customary to address a physician in the 
second person as Doctor, though his card may show that he is 
only Medicinae Baccalaureus, a degree quite unknown in Amer- 
ica. Thus an Englishman, when he is ill, always sends for the 
doctor, as we do. But a surgeon is usually plain Mr. zo An 
English veterinarian or dentist or druggist or masseur is never 


Nor Professor. In all save a few large cities of America every 
male pedagogue is a professor, and so is every band leader, 
dancing master and medical consultant. But in England the 
title is very rigidly restricted to men who hold chairs in the uni- 
versities, a necessarily small body. Even here a superior title 

20 In the Appendix to the Final Report of the Royal Commission on Ve- 
nereal Diseases, London, 1916, p. iv., I find the following: "Mr. C. J. 
Symonds, F.R.C.S., M.D.; Mr. F, J. McCann, F.R.C S M D^ Mr A. F. 
Evans F R C S Mr. Symonds is consulting surgeon to Guy s Hospital, M 
McCann is an eminent London gynecologist, and Mr. Evans is a general 
surgeon in large practise. All would be called Doctor in the United States. 


always takes precedence. Thus, it used to be Professor Aim- 
roth Wright, but now it is always Sir Almroth Wright. Hux- 
ley was always called Professor Huxley until he was appointed 
to the Privy Council. This appointment gave him the right to 
have Right Honourable put before his name, and thereafter it 
was customary to call him simply Mr. Huxley, with the Right 
Honourable, so to speak, floating in the air. The combination, 
to an Englishman, was more flattering than Professor, for the 
English always esteem political dignities far more than the digni- 
ties of learning. This explains, perhaps, why their universities 
distribute so few honorary degrees. In the United States every 
respectable Protestant clergyman is a D.D., and it is almost im- 
possible for a man to get into the papers without becoming an 
LL.D., 21 but in England such honors are granted only grudg- 
ingly. So with military titles. To promote a war veteran from 
sergeant to colonel by acclamation, as is often done in the United 
States, is unknown over there. The English have nothing equiv- 
alent to the gaudy tin soldiers of our governors' staffs, nor to 
the bespangled colonels and generals of the Knights Templar 
and Patriarchs Militant, nor to the nondescript captains and 
majors of our country towns. An English railroad conductor 
(railway guard) is never Captain, as he always is in the United 
States. Nor are military titles used by the police. Nor is it. 
the custom to make every newspaper editor a colonel, as is done 
south of the Potomac. Nor is an attorney-general or postmaster- 
general called General. Nor are the glories of public office, after 
they have officially come to an end, embalmed in such clumsy 
quasi-titles as ex-United States Senator, ex-Judge of the Circuit 
Court of Appeals, ex-Federal Trade Commissioner and former 
Chief of the Fire Department. 

But perhaps the greatest difference between English and 
American usage is presented by the Honorable. In the United 
States the title is applied loosely to all public officials of apparent 
respectability, from senators and ambassadors to the mayors of 

21 Among the curious recipients of this degree have been Gumshoe Bill 
Stone, Uncle Joe Cannon and Josephus Daniels. Billy Sunday, the evan- 
gelist, is a D.D. 


fifth-rate cities and the members of state legislatures, and with 
some show of official sanction to many of them, especially con- 
gressmen. But it is questionable whether this application has 
any actual legal standing, save perhaps in the case of certain 
judges. Even the President of the United States, by law, is not 
the Honorable, but simply the President. In the First Congress 
the matter of his title was exhaustively debated; some members 
wanted to call him the Honorable and others proposed His Ex- 
cellency and even His Highness. But the two Houses finally 
decided that it was "not proper to annex any style or title other 
than that expressed by the Constitution." Congressmen them- 
selves are not Honorables. True enough, the Congressional Rec- 
ord, in printing a set speech, calls it "Speech of Hon. John 
Jones" (without the the before the Hon. a characteristic Amer- 
icanism), but in reporting the ordinary remarks of a member 
it always calls him plain Mr. Nevertheless, a country congress- 
man would be offended if his partisans, in announcing his ap- 
pearance on the stump, did not prefix Hon. to his name. So 
would a state senator. So would a mayor or governor. I have 
seen the sergeant-at-arms of the United States Senate referred 
to as Hon. in the records of that body. 22 More, the prefix is 
actually usurped by the Superintendent of State Prisons of New 
York. 23 

In England the thing is more carefully ordered, and bogus 
Hons. are unknown. The prefix is applied to both sexes and 
belongs by law, inter alia, to all present or past maids of honor, 
to all justices of the High Court during their terms of office, 
to the Scotch Lords of Session, to the sons and daughters of vis- 
counts and -barons, to the younger sons and (all daughters ) of "" 
earls, and to the members of the legislative and executive coun- 
cils of the colonies. But not to members of Parliament, though 
each is, in debate, an hon. gentleman. Even a member of the 
cabinet is not an Hon., though he is a Eight Hon. by virtue of 
membership in the Privy Council, of which the Cabinet is legally 
merely a committee. This last honorific belongs, not only to 

22 Congressional Record, May 16, 1918, p. 7147. 

23 Vide his annual reports, printed at Sing Sing Prison. 


privy councillors, but also to all peers lower than marquesses 
(those above are Most Hon.), to Lord Mayors during their terms 
of office, to the Lord Advocate and to the Lord Provosts of Edin- 
burgh and Glasgow. Moreover, a peeress whose husband is a 
Right Hon. is a Right Hon. herself. 

The British colonies follow the jealous usage of the mother- 
country. Even in Canada the lawless American example is not 
imitated. I have before me a "Table of Titles to be Used in 
Canada, ' ' laid down by royal warrant, which lists those who are 
Hons. and those who are not Hons. in the utmost detail. Only 
privy councillors of Canada (not to be confused with imperial 
privy councillors) are permitted to retain the prefix after going 
out of office, though ancients who were legislative councillors at 
the time of the union, July 1, 1867, may still use it by a sort 
of courtesy, and former speakers of the Dominion Senate and 
House of Commons and various retired judges may do so on 
application to the King, countersigned by the governor-general. 
The following are lawfully the Hon., but only during their 
tenure of office: the solicitor-general, the speaker of the House 
of Commons, the presidents and speakers of the provincial legis- 
latures, members of the executive councils of the provinces, the 
chief justice, the judges of the Supreme and Exchequer Courts, 
the judges of the Supreme Courts of Ontario, Nova Scotia, New 
Brunswick, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Saskatche- 
wan and Alberta, the judges of the Courts of Appeal of Mani- 
toba and British Columbia, the Chancery Court of Prince Ed- 
ward Island, and the Circuit Court of Montreal these, and no 
more. A lieutenant-governor of a province is not the Hon., but 
His Honor. The governor-general is His Excellency, and so is 
his wife, but in practise they usually have superior honorifics, 
and do not forget to demand their use. 

But though an Englishman, and, following him, a colonial, 
is thus very careful to restrict the Hon. to proper uses, he al- 
ways insists, when he serves without pay as an officer of any 
organization, to indicate his volunteer character by writing Hon. 
before the name of his office. If he leaves it off it is a sign 
that he is a hireling. Thus, the agent of the New Zealand 

government in London, a paid officer, is simply the agent, but 
the agents at Brisbane and Adelaide, in Australia, who serve 
for the glory of it, are hon. agents. In writing to a Briton one 
must be careful to put Esq., behind his name, and not Mr., before 
it. The English make a clear distinction between the two forms. 
Mr., on an envelope, indicates that the sender holds the receiver 
to be his inferior; one writes to Mr. John Jackson, one's green- 
grocer, but to James Thompson, Esq., one 's neighbor. Any man 
who is entitled to the Esq. is a gentleman, by which an English- 
man means a man of sound connections and dignified occupa- 
tion in brief, of ponderable social position. Thus a dentist, 
a shop-keeper or a clerk can never be a gentleman in England, 
even by courtesy, and the qualifications of an author, a musical 
conductor, a physician, or even a member of Parliament have 
to be established. But though he is thus enormously watchful 
of masculine dignity, an Englishman is quite careless in the use 
of lady. He speaks glibly of lady-clerks, lady-typists, lady- 
doctors and lady-inspectors. In America there is a strong dis- 
position to use the word less and less, as is revealed by the sub- 
stitution of saleswoman and salesgirl for the saleslady of yester- 
year. But in England lady is still invariably used instead of 
woman in such compounds as lady-golfer, lady-secretary and 
lady-champion. The women's singles, in England tennis, are 
always ladies' singles; women's wear, in English shops, is al- 
ways ladies' wear. Perhaps the cause of this distinction between 
lady and gentleman has been explained by Price Collier in 
"England and the English." In England, according to Collier, 
the male is always first. His comfort goes before his wife's 
comfort, and maybe his dignity also. Gentleman- clerk or gentle- 
man-author would make an Englishman howl, though he uses 
gentleman-rider. So would the growing American custom of 
designating the successive heirs of a private family by the 
numerals proper to royalty. John Smith 3rd and William Simp- 
son -IV are gravely received at Harvard ; at Oxford they would 
be ragged unmercifully. 

An Englishman, in speaking or writing of public officials, 
avoids those long and clumsy combinations of title and name 


which figure so copiously in American newspapers. Such locu- 
tions as Assistant Secretary of the Interior Jones, Fourth As- 
sistant Postmaster-General Brown, Inspector of Boilers Smith, 
Judge of the Appeal Tax Court Robinson, Chief Clerk of the 
Treasury Williams and Collaborating Epidemiologist White 24 
are quite unknown to him. When he mentions a high official, 
such as the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, he does not think it 
necessary to add the man 's name ; he simply says ' ' the Secretary 
for Foreign Affairs" or "the Foreign Secretary." And so 
with the Lord Chancellor, the Chief Justice, the Prime Minister, 
the Bishop of Carlisle, the Chief Rabbi, the First Lord (of the 
Admiralty), the Master of Pembroke (College), the Italian Am- 
bassador, and so on. Certain ecclesiastical titles are sometimes 
coupled to surnames in the American manner, as in Dean Stan- 
ley, and Canon Wilberforce, but Prime Minister Lloyd-George 
would seem heavy and absurd. But in other directions the Eng- 
lishman has certain clumsinesses of his own. Thus, in writing 
a letter to a relative stranger, he sometimes begins it, not My 
dear Mr. Jones but My dear John Joseph Jones. He may even 
use such a form as My dear Secretary for War in place of the 
American My dear Mr. Secretary. In English usage, inci- 
dentally, My dear is more formal than simply Dear. In Amer- 
ica, of course, this distinction is lost, and such forms as My dear 
John Joseph Jones appear only as conscious imitations of Eng- 
lish usage. 

I have spoken of the American custom of dropping the definite 
article before Hon. It extends to Rev. and the like, and has 
the authority of very respectable usage behind it. The open- 
ing sentence of the Congressional Record is always : ' ' The Chap- 
lain, Rev. , D.D., offered the following prayer." 

When chaplains for the army or navy are confirmed by the Sen- 
ate they always appear in the Record as Revs., never as the Revs. 
I also find the honorific without the article in the New Inter- 
national Encyclopaedia, in the World Almanac, and in a widely- 

24 I encountered this gem in Public Health Reports, a government pub- 
lication, for April 26, 1918, p. 619. 


popular American grammar-book. 25 So long ago as 1867, Gould 
protested against this elision as barbarous and idiotic, and drew 
up the following reductio ad dbsurdum: 

At last annual meeting of Black Book Society, honorable John Smith 
took the chair, assisted by reverend John Brown and venerable John 
White. The office of secretary would have been filled by late John 
Green, but for his decease, which rendered him ineligible. His place 
was supplied by inevitable John Black. In the course of the evening 
eulogiums were pronounced on distinguished John Gray and notorious 
Joseph Brown. Marked compliment was also paid to able historian 
Joseph White, discriminating philosopher Joseph Green, and learned 
professor Joseph Black. But conspicuous speech of the evening was 
witty Joseph Gray's apostrophe to eminent astronomer Jacob Brown, 
subtle logician Jacob White, etc., etc. 26 

Richard Grant White, a year or two later, joined the attack 
in the New York Galaxy, and William Cullen Bryant included 
the omission of the article in his Index Expurgatorius, but these 
anathemas were as ineffective as Gould's irony. The more care- 
ful American journals, of course, incline to the the, and I note 
that it is specifically ordained on the Style-sheet of the Century 
Magazine, but the overwhelming majority of American news- 
papers get along without it, and I have often noticed its omis- 
sion on the sign-boards at church entrances. 27 In England it 
is never omitted. 

25 For the Record see the issue of Dec. 14, 1917, p. 309. For the New 
International Encyclopaedia see the article on Brotherhood of Andrew and 
Philip. For the World Almanac see the article on Young People's Society 
of Christian Endeavor, ed. of 1914. The grammar-hook is Longman's 
Briefer Grammar; New York, 1908, p. 160. The editor is George J. 
Smith, a member of the board of examiners of the New York City Depart- 
ment of Education. 

26 Edwin S. Gould: Good English; New York, 1867, pp. 56-57. 

27 Despite the example of Congress, however, the Department of State 
inserts the the. Vide the Congressional Record, May 4, 1918, p. 6552. But 
the War Department, the Treasury and the Post Office omit it. Vide the 
Congressional Record, May 11, 1918, p. 6895 and p. 6914 and May 14, p. 
7004, respectively. So, it appears, does the White House. Vide the Con- 
gressional Record, May 10, 1918, p. 6838, and June 12, 1918, p. 8293. 



Euphemisms and Forbidden Words But such euphemisms as 
lady-clerk are, after all, much rarer in English than in American 
usage. The Englishman seldom tries to gloss menial occupa- 
tions with sonorous names; on the contrary, he seems to delight 
in keeping their menial character plain. He says servants, not 
help. Even his railways and banks have servants; the chief 
trades-union of the English railroad men is the Amalgamated 
Society of Railway Servants. He uses employe in place of clerk, 
workman or laborer much less often than we do. True enough 
he calls a boarder a paying-guest, but that is probably because 
even a boarder may be a gentleman. Just as he avoids calling 
a fast train the limited, the flier or the cannon-ball, so he never 
calls an undertaker a funeral director or mortician, 26 or a dentist 
a dental surgeon or ontologist, or an optician an optometrist, 
or a barber shop (he always makes it barber's shop) a tonsorial 
parlor, or a common public-house a cafe, a restaurant, an ex- 
change, a buffet or a hotel, or a tradesman a storekeeper or 
merchant, or a fresh-water college a university. A university, 
in England, always means a collection of colleges. 29 He avoids 
displacing terms of a disparaging or disagreeable significance 
with others less brutal, or thought to be less brutal, e. g., ready- 
to-wear or ready-tailored for ready-made, used or slightly-used 
for second-hand, mahoganized for imitation-^mahogany, aisle 
manager for floor-walker (he makes it shop-walker), loan-office 
for pawn-shop. Also, he is careful not to use such words as 
rector, deacon and baccalaureate in merely rhetorical senses. 30 

28 In the 60's an undertaker was often called an embalming surgeon in 

29 In a list of American "universites" I find the Christian of Canton, 
Mo., with 125 students; the Lincoln, of Pennsylvania, with 184; the 
Southwestern Presbyterian, of Clarksville, Tenn., with 86; and the Newton 
Theological, with 77. Most of these, of course, are merely country high- 

so The Rev. John C. Stephenson in the New York Sun, July 10, 1914: 
. . . "that empty courtesy of addressing every clergyman as Doctor. . . . 
And let us abolish the abuse of ... baccalaureate sermons for sermons be- 
fore graduating classes of high schools and the like." 


"When we come to words, that, either intrinsically or by usage, 
are improper, a great many curious differences between English 
and American reveal themselves. The Englishman, on the whole, 
is more plain-spoken than the American, and such terms as 
bitch, mare and in foal do not commonly daunt him, largely, per- 
haps, because of his greater familiarity with country life; but 
he has a formidable index of his own, and it includes such essen- 
tially harmless words as sick, stomach, bum and bug. The Eng- 
lish use of ill for sick I have already noticed, and the reasons 
for the English avoidance of bum. Sick, over there, means 
nauseated, and when an Englishman says that he was sick he 
means that he vomited, or, as an American would say, was 
sick at the stomach. The older (and still American) usage, 
however, survives in various compounds. Sick-list, for exam- 
ple, is official in the Navy, 31 and sick-leave is known in the Army, 
though it is more common to say of a soldier that he is invalided 
home. Sick-room and sick-bed are also in common use, and 
sick-flag is used in place of the American quarantine- flag. But 
an Englishman hesitates to mention his stomach in the presence 
of ladies, though he discourses freely about his liver. To avoid 
the necessity he employs such euphemisms as Little Mary. As 
for bug, he restricts its use very rigidly to the Cimex lectularius, 
or common bed-bug, and hence the word has a highly impolite 
connotation. All other crawling things he calls insects. An 
American of my acquaintance once greatly offended an English 
friend by using bug for insect. The two were playing billiards 
one summer evening in the Englishman's house, and various 
flying things came through the window and alighted on the 
cloth. The American, essaying a shot, remarked that he had 
killed a bug with his cue. To the Englishman this seemed a 
slanderous reflection upon the cleanliness of his house. 32 

si Cf. Dardanelles Commission Report; London, 1916, p. 58, 47. 

32 Edgar Allan Poe's "The Gold Bug" is called "The Golden Beetle" in 
England. Twenty-five years ago an Enlishman named Buggey, laboring 
under the odium attached to the name, had it changed to Norfolk-Howard, 
a compound made up of the title and family name of the Duke of Norfolk. 
The wits of London at once doubled his misery by adopting Norfolk-Howard 
as a euphemism for bed-bug. 


The Victorian era saw a great growth of absurd euphemisms 
in England, including second wing for the leg of a fowl, but it 
was in America that the thing was carried farthest. Bartlett 
hints that rooster came into use in place of cock as a matter of 
delicacy, the latter word having acquired an indecent signifi- 
cance, and tells us that, at one time, even bull was banned as 
too vulgar for refined ears. In place of it the early purists 
used cow-creature, male-cow and even gentleman-cow. 33 Bitch, 
ram, buck and sow went the same way, and there was a day when 
even mare was prohibited. Bache tells us that pismire was also 
banned, antmire being substituted for it. In 1847 the word 
chair was actually barred out and seat was adopted in its place. 3 * 
These were the palmy days of euphemism. The delicate female 
was guarded from all knowledge, and even from all suspicion, 
of evil. "To utter aloud in her presence the word shirt," says 
one historian, "was an open insult." 35 Mrs. Trollope, writing 
in 1832, tells of "a young German gentleman of perfectly good 
manners" who "offended one of the principal families ... by 
having pronounced the word corset before the ladies of it. ' ' 38 
The word woman, in those sensitive days, became a term of re- 
proach, comparable to the German mensch; the uncouth female 
took its place. 37 In the same way the legs of the fair became 
limbs and their breasts bosoms, and lady was substituted for 
wife. Stomach, under the ban in England, was transformed, 
by some unfathomable magic, into a euphemism denoting the 
whole region from the nipples to the pelvic arch. It was during 

33 A recent example of the use of male-cow was quoted in the Journal of 
the American Medical Association, Nov. 17, 1917, advertising page 24. 

s *New York Organ (a "family journal devoted to temperance, morality, 
education and general literature"), May 29, 1847. One of the editors of 
this delicate journal was T. S. Arthur, author of Ten Nights in a Bar-room. 

35 John Graham Brooks: As Others See Us; New York, 1908, p. 11. 

se Domestic Manners of the Americans, 2 vols. ; London, 1832; vol. i, p. 

37 Female, of course, was epidemic in England too, but White says that 
it was "not a Briticism," and so early as 1839 the Legislature of Maryland 
expunged it from the title of a bill "to protect the reputation of un- 
married females," substituting women, on the ground that female "was an 
Americanism in that application." 


this time that the newspapers invented such locutions as inter- 
esting (or delicate) condition, criminal operation, house of ill 
(or questionable) repute, disorderly-house, sporting-house, stat- 
utory offense, fallen woman and criminal assault. Servant girls 
ceased to be seduced, and began to be betrayed. Various French 
terms, enceinte and accouchement among them, were imported to 
conceal the fact that lawful wives occasionally became pregnant 
and had lyings-in. 

White, between 1867 and 1870, launched various attacks upon 
these ludicrous gossamers of speech, and particularly upon en- 
ceinte, limb and female, but only female succumbed. The pas- 
sage of the notorious Comstock Postal Act, in 1873, greatly 
stimulated the search for euphemisms. Once that act was upon 
the statute-books and Comstock himself was given the amazingly 
inquisitorial powers of a post-office inspector, it became posi- 
tively dangerous to print certain ancient and essentially decent 
English words. To this day the effects of that old reign of 
terror are still visible. We yet use toilet and public comfort 
station in place of better terms, 38 and such idiotic forms as red- 
light district, disorderly-house, blood-poison, social-evil, social 
disease and white slave ostensibly conceal what every flapper 
is talking about. The word cadet, having a foreign smack and 
an innocent native meaning, is preferred to the more accurate 
procurer; even prostitutes shrink from the forthright pimp, and 
employ a characteristic American abbreviation, P. I. a curious 
brother to 8. 0. B. and 2 o'clock. Nevertheless, a movement 
toward honesty is getting on its legs. The vice crusaders, if they 
have accomplished nothing else, have at least forced the news- 
papers to use the honest terms, syphilis, prostitute, brothel and 
venereal disease, albeit somewhat gingerly. It is, perhaps, sig- 
nificant of the change going on that the New York Evening Post 

38 The French pissoir, for instance, is still regarded as indecent in Amer- 
ica, and is seldom used in England, but it has gone into most of the 
Continental languages. It is curious to note, however, that these languages 
also have their prvideries. Most of them, for example, use W. C., an 
abbreviation of the English water-closet, as a euphemism. The whole sub- 
ject of national pruderies, in both act and speech, remains to be investigated. 


recently authorized its reporters to use street-walker. 39 But in 
certain quarters the change is viewed with alarm, and curious 
traces of the old prudery still survive. The Department of 
Health of New York City, in April, 1914, announced that its 
efforts to diminish venereal disease were much handicapped 
because "in most newspaper offices the words syphilis and 
gonorrhea are still tabooed, and without the use of these terms 
it is almost impossible to correctly state the problem." The 
Army Medical Corps, in the early part of 1918, encountered the 
same difficulty: most newspapers refused to print its bulletins 
regarding venereal disease in the army. One of the newspaper 
trade journals thereupon sought the opinions of editors upon 
the subject, and all of them save one declared against the use 
of the two words. One editor put the blame upon the Post- 
office, which still cherishes the Comstock tradition. Another 
reported that "at a recent conference of the Scripps Northwest 
League editors" it was decided that "the use of such terms as 
gonorrhea, syphilis, and even venereal diseases would not add to 
the tone of the papers, and that the term vice diseases can be 
readily substituted. ' ' 40 The Scripps papers are otherwise any- 
thing but distinguished for their ' ' tone, ' ' but in this department 
they yield to the Puritan habit. An even more curious instance 
of prudery came to my notice in Philadelphia several years ago. 
A one-act play of mine, "The Artist," was presented at the 
Little Theatre there, and during its run, on February 26, 1916, 
the Public Ledger reprinted some of the dialogue. One of the 
characters in the piece is A Virgin. At every occurrence a 
change was made to A Young Girl. Apparently, even virgin 
is still regarded as too frank in Philadelphia. 41 Fifty years 

3 Even the Springfield Republican, the last stronghold of Puritan Kultwr, 
printed the word on Oct. 11, 1917, in a review of New Adventures, by 
Michael Monahan. 

40 Pep, July, 1918, p. 8. 

41 Perhaps the Quaker influence is to blame. At all events, Philadelphia 
is the most pecksniffian of American cities, and thus probably leads the 
world. Early in 1918, when a patriotic moving-picture entitled "To Hell 
with the Kaiser" was sent on tour under government patronage, the word 
hell was carefully toned down, on the Philadelphia billboards, to Ji . 


ago the very word decent was indecent in the South : no respect- 
able woman was supposed to have any notion of the difference 
between decent and indecent. 

In their vocabularies of opprobrium and profanity English 
and Americans diverge sharply. The English rotter and blighter 
are practically unknown in America, and there are various Amer- 
ican equivalents that are never heard in England. A guy, in 
the American vulgate, simply signifies a man ; there is not neces- 
sarily any disparaging significance. But in English, high or 
low, it means one who is making a spectacle of himself. The 
derivative verb, to guy, is unknown in English; its nearest 
equivalent is to spoof, which is unknown in American. The 
average American, I believe, has a larger vocabulary of pro- 
fanity than the average Englishman, and swears a good deal 
more, but he attempts an amelioration of many of his oaths by 
softening them to forms with, no apparent meaning. Darn 
(=dern = durn) for damn is apparently of English origin, 
but it is heard ten thousand times in America to once in Eng- 
land. So is dog-gone. Such euphemistic written forms as 
damphool and damfino are also far more common in this coun- 
try. All-fired for hell-fired, gee-whiz for Jesus, tarnal for eter- 
nal, tarnation for damn-ation, cuss for curse, goldarned for God- 
damned, by gosh for by God and great Scott for great God are 
all Americanisms; Thornton has traced all-fired to 1835, tarna- 
tion to 1801 and tarnal to 1790. By golly has been found in 
English literature so early as 1843, but it probably originated 
in America; down to the Civil War it was the characteristic 
oath of the negro slaves. Such terms as bonehead, pinhead and 
boob have been invented, perhaps, to take the place of the Eng- 
lish ass, which has a flavor of impropriety in America on account 
of its identity in sound with the American pronunciation of 
arse. 42 At an earlier day ass was always differentiated by mak- 
ing it jackass. Another word that is improper in America but 
not in England is tart. To an Englishman the word connotes 
sweetness, and so, if he be of the lower orders, he may apply 

42 Cf. R. M. Bache : Vulgarisms and Other Errors of Speech ; Phila., 
1869, p. 34 et seq. 


it to his sweetheart. But to the American it signifies a pros- 
titute, or, at all events, a woman of too ready an amiability. 

But the most curious disparity between the profane vocabu- 
lary of the two tongues is presented by bloody. This word is 
entirely without improper significance in America, but in Eng- 
land it is regarded as the vilest of indecencies. The sensation 
produced in London when George Bernard Shaw put it into the 
mouth of a woman character in his play, "Pygmalion," will 
be remembered. "The interest in the first English perform- 
ance," said the New York Times,** "centered in the heroine's 
utterance of this banned word. It was waited for with trem- 
bling, heard shudderingly, and presumably, when the shock 
subsided, interest dwindled." But in New York, of course, it 
failed to cause any stir. Just why it is regarded as profane 
and indecent by the English is one of the mysteries of the lan- 
guage. The theory that it has some blasphemous reference to 
the blood of Christ is disputed by many etymologists. It came 
in during the latter half of the seventeenth century, and at the 
start it apparently meant no more than "in the manner of a 
blood," i. e., a rich young roisterer of the time. Thus, bloody 
drunk was synonymous with as drunk as a lord. The adjective 
remained innocuous for 200 3^ears. Then it suddenly acquired its 
present abhorrent significance. It is regarded with such aver- 
sion by the English that even the lower orders often substitute 
bleeding as a euphemism. 

So far no work devoted wholly to the improper terms of Eng- 
lish and American has been published, but this lack may be soon 
remedied by a compilation made by a Chicago journalist. It is 
entitled "The Slang of Venery and Its Analogues," and runs 
to two large volumes. A small edition, mimeographed for pri- 
vate circulation, was issued in 1916. I have examined this work 
and found it of great value. If the influence of comstockery is 
sufficient to prevent its publication in the United States, as seems 
likely, it will be printed in Switzerland. 

43 April 14, 1914. 


Tendencies in American 


International Exchanges More than once, during the pre- 
ceding chapters, we encountered Americanisms that had gone 
over into English, and English locutions that had begun to get 
a foothold in the United States. Such exchanges are made very 
frequently and often very quickly, and though the guardians 
of English still attack every new Americanism vigorously, even 
when, as in the case of scientist, it is obviously sound and use- 
ful, they are often routed by public pressure, and have to sub- 
mit in the end with the best grace possible. For example, con- 
sider caucus. It originated in Boston at some indeterminate 
time before 1750, and remained so peculiarly American for 
more than a century following that most of the English visitors 
before the Civil War remarked its use. But, according to J. 
Redding "Ware, 1 it began to creep into English political slang 
about 1870, and in the 80 's it was lifted to good usage by the 
late Joseph Chamberlain. Ware, writing in the first years of 
the present century, said that the word had become "very im- 
portant" in England, but was "not admitted into dictionaries." 
But in the Concise Oxford Dictionary, dated 1914, it is given 
as a sound English word, though its American origin is noted. 
The English, however, use it in a sense that has become archaic 
in America, thus preserving an abandoned American meaning 
in the same way that many abandoned British meanings have 
been preserved on this side. In the United States the word 
means, and has meant for years, a meeting of some division, 

i In Passing English of the Victorian Era; London, n. d., p. 68. 



large or small, of a political or legislative body for the purpose 
of agreeing upon a united course of action in the main assembly. 
In England it means the managing committee of a party or frac- 
tion something corresponding to our national committee, or 
state central committee, or steering committee, or to the half- 
forgotten congressional caucuses of the 20 's. It has a disparag- 
ing significance over there, almost equal to that of our words 
organization and machine. Moreover, it has given birth to two 
derivatives of like quality, both unknown in America caucus- 
dom, meaning machine control, and caucuser, meaning a machine 
politician. 2 

A good many other such Americanisms have got into good 
usage in England, and new ones are being exported constantly. 
Farmer describes the process of their introduction and assimi- 
lation. American books, newspapers and magazines, especially 
the last, circulate in England in large number, and some of their 
characteristic locutions pass into colloquial speech. Then they 
get into print, and begin to take on respectability. ' ' The phrase, 
'as the Americans say,' " he continues, "might in some cases 
be ordered from the type foundry as a logotype, so frequently 
does it do introduction duty. ' ' 3 Ware shows another means of 
ingress: the argot of sailors. Many of the Americanisms he 
notes as having become naturalized in England, e. g., boodle, 
boost and walk-out, are credited to Liverpool as a sort of half- 
way station. Travel brings in still more: England swarms 
with Americans, and Englishmen themselves, visiting America, 
bring home new and racy phrases. Bishop Coxe says* that 

2 The Oxford Dictionary, following the late J. H. Trumbull, the well- 
known authority on Indian languages, derives the word from the Algonquin 
cau-cau-as-u, one who advises. But most other authorities, following 
Pickering, derive it from caulkers. The first caucuses, it would appear, 
were held in a caulkers' shop in Boston, and were called caulkers' meetings. 
The Rev. William Gordon, in his History of the Rise and Independence of 
the United States, Including the Late War, published in London in 1788, 
said that "more than fifty years ago Mr. Samuel Adams' father and twenty 
others, one or two from the north end of the town [Boston], where the 
ship business is carried on, used to meet, make a caucus, and lay their 
plans for introducing certain persons into places of trust and power." 

s Americanisms Old and New; p. vii. 

* A. Cleveland Coxe : Americanisms in England, Forum, Oct. 1886. 


Dickens, in his " American Notes," gave English currency to 
reliable, influential, talented and lengthy. Bristed, writing in 
1855, said that talented was already firmly fixed in the English 
vocabulary by that time. All four words are in the Concise 
Oxford Dictionary, and only lengthy is noted as "originally an 
Americanism." Finally, there is the influence of the moving 
pictures. Hundreds of American films are shown in England 
every week, and the American words and phrases appearing in 
their titles, sub-titles and other explanatory legends thus be- 
come familiar to the English. "The patron of the picture pal- 
ace," says W. G. Faulkner, in an article in the London Daily 
Mail, "learns to think of his railway station as a depot; he has 
alternatives to one of our newest words, hooligan, in hoodlum 
and tough; he watches a dive, which is a thieves' kitchen or a 
room in which bad characters meet, and whether the villain 
talks of dough or sugar he knows it is money to which he is 
referring. The musical ring of the word tramp gives way to 
the stodgy hobo or dead-beat. It may be that the plot reveals 
an attempt to deceive some simple-minded person. If it does, 
the innocent one is spoken of as a sucker, a come-on, a boob, or 
a lobster if he is stupid into the bargain. ' ' 

Mr. Faulkner goes on to say that a great many other Ameri- 
canisms are constantly employed by Englishmen ' ' who have not 
been affected by the avalanche . . . which has come upon us 
through the picture palace. " " Thus today, ' ' he says, ' ' we hear 
people speak of the fall of the year, a stunt they have in hand, 
their desire to boost a particular business, a peach when they 
mean a pretty girl, a scab a common term among strikers, the 
glad-eye, junk when they mean worthless material, their efforts 
to make good, the elevator in the hotel or office, the boss or man- 
ager, the crook or swindler ; and they will tell you that they have 
the goods that is, they possess the requisite qualities for a 
given position." The venerable Frederic Harrison, writing in 
the Fortnightly Review in the Spring of 1918, denounced this 
tendency with a vigor recalling the classical anathemas of Dean 
Alford and Sydney Smith. 5 "Stale American phrases, . . ." 

s Reprinted, in part, in the New York Sun, May 12, 1918. 


he said, "are infecting even our higher journalism and our par- 
liamentary and platform oratory. ... A statesman is now out 
for victory; he is up against pacificism. ... He has a card up 
his sleeve, by which the enemy are at last to be euchred. Then 
a fierce fight in which hundreds of noble fellows are mangled 
or drowned is a scrap. ... To criticise a politician is to call 
for his scalp. . . . The other fellow is beaten to a frazzle." 
And so on. "Bolshevism," concluded Harrison sadly, "is ruin- 
ing language as well as society. ' ' 

But though there are still many such alarms by constables of 
the national speech, the majority of Englishmen continue to 
make borrowings from the tempting and ever-widening Amer- 
ican vocabulary. What is more, some of these loan-words take 
root, and are presently accepted as sound English, even by the 
most watchful. The two Fowlers, in "The King's English," 
separate Americanisms from other current vulgarisms, but many 
of the latter on their list are actually American in origin, though 
they do not seem to know it for example, to demean and to 
transpire. More remarkable still, the Cambridge History of 
English Literature lists backwoodsman, know-nothing and yel- 
low-back as English compounds, apparently in forgetfulness of 
their American origin, and adds skunk, squaw and toboggan as 
direct importations from the Indian tongues, without noting that 
they came through American, and remained definite American- 
isms for a long while. 6 It even adds musquash, a popular name 
for the Fiber zibethicus, borrowed from the Algonquin musk- 
wessu but long since degenerated to musk-rat in America. 
Musquash has been in disuse in this country, indeed, since the 
middle of the last century, save as a stray localism, but the 
English have preserved it, and it appears in the Oxford Dic- 
tionary. 7 

A few weeks in London or a month's study of the London 

e Vol. xiv. pp. 507, 512. 

T In this connection it is curious to note that, though the raccoon is an 
animal quite unknown in England, there was, until lately, a destroyer called 
the Raccoon in the British Navy. This ship was lost with all hands off the 
Irish coast, Jan. 9, 1918. 


newspapers will show a great many other American pollutions 
of the well of English. The argot of politics is full of them. 
Many beside caucus were introduced by Joseph Chamberlain, a 
politician skilled in American campaign methods and with an 
American wife to prompt him. He gave the English their first 
taste of to belittle, one of the inventions of Thomas Jefferson. 
Graft and to graft crossed the ocean in their nonage. To bluff 
has been well understood in England for 30 years. It is in 
Cassell's and the Oxford Dictionaries, and has been used by no 
less a magnifico than Sir Almroth Wright. 8 To stump, in the 
form of stump-oratory, is in Carlyle's "Latter-Day Pamphlets," 
circa 1850, and caucus appears in his "Frederick the Great," 9 
though, as we have seen on the authority of Ware, it did 
not come into general use in England until ten years later. 
Buncombe (usually spelled bunkum) is in all the later English 
dictionaries. In the London stock market and among English 
railroad men various characteristic Americanisms have got a foot- 
hold. The meaning of bucket-shop and to water, for example, 
is familiar to every London broker's clerk. English trains are 
now telescoped and carry dead-heads, and in 1913 a rival to the 
Amalgamated Order of Railway Servants was organized under 
the name of the National Union of Railway Men. The begin- 
nings of a movement against the use of servant are visible in 
other directions, and the American help threatens to be substi- 
tuted ; at all events, Help Wanted advertisements are now .occa- 
sionally encountered in English newspapers. But it is Amer- 
ican verbs that seem to find the way into English least difficult, 
particularly those compounded with prepositions and adverbs, 
such as to pan out and to swear off. Most of them, true enough, 

s The Unexpurgated Case Against Woman Suffrage; London, 1913, p. 9. 
To 'bluff has also gone into other languages, notably the Spanish. During 
the Cuban revolution of March, 1917, the newspapers of Havana, objecting 
to the dispatches sent out by American correspondents, denounced the latter 
as los blofistas. Meanwhile, to bluff has been shouldered out in the country 
of its origin, at least temporarily, by a verb borrowed from the French, 
to camouflage. This first appeared in the Spring of 1917. 

9 Book iv, ch. iii. The first of the six volumes was published in 1858 and 
the last in 1865. 


are still used as conscious Americanisms, but used they are, 
and with increasing frequency. The highly typical American 
verb to loaf is now naturalized, and Ware says that The Loaferies 
is one of the common nicknames of the Whitechapel workhouse. 

It is curious, reading the fulminations of American purists of 
the last generation, to note how many of the Americanisms they 
denounced have not only got into perfectly good usage at home 
but even broken down all guards across the ocean. To placate 
and to antagonize are examples. The Oxford Dictionary dis- 
tinguishes between the English and American meanings of the 
latter: in England a man may antagonize only another man, in 
America he may antagonize a mere idea or thing. But, as the 
brothers Fowler show, even the English meaning is of American 
origin, and no doubt a few more years will see the verb com- 
pletely naturalized in Britain. To placate, attacked vigorously 
by all native grammarians down to (but excepting) White, now 
has the authority of the Spectator, and is accepted by Cassell. 
To donate is still under the ban, but to transpire has been used 
by the London Times. Other old bugaboos that have been em- 
braced are gubernatorial, presidential and standpoint. White la- 
bored long and valiantly to convince Americans that the adjec- 
tive derived from president should be without the i in its last 
syllable, following the example of incidental, regimental, monu- 
bnental, governmental, oriental, experimental and so on; but in 
vain, for presidential is now perfectly good English. To de- 
mean is still questioned, but English authors of the first rank 
have used it, and it will probably lose its dubious character very 

The flow of loan-words in the opposite direction meets with 
little impediment, for social distinction in America is still largely 
dependent upon English recognition, and so there is an eager 
imitation of the latest English fashions in speech. This emula- 
tion is most noticeable in the large cities of the East, and par- 
ticularly in what Schele de Vere called "Boston and the Boston 
dependencies." New York is but little behind. The small 
stores there, if they are of any pretentious, are now almost in- 
variably called shops. Shoes for the well-to-do are no longer 


shoes, but boots, and they are sold in bootshops. One encounters, 
too, in the side-streets off Fifth avenue, a multitude of gift-shops, 
tea-shops and haberdashery-shops. In Fifth avenue itself there 
are several luggage-shops. In August, 1917, signs appeared in 
the New York surface cars in which the conductors were re- 
ferred to as guards. This effort to be English and correct was 
exhibited over the sign manual of Theodore P. Shonts, president 
of the Interborough, a gentleman of Teutonic name, but evi- 
dently a faithful protector of the king's English. On the same 
cars, however, painted notices, surviving from some earlier 
regime, mentioned the guards as conductors. To Let signs are 
now as common in all our cities as For Rent signs. We all 
know the charwoman, and have begun to forget our native modi- 
fication of char, to wit, chore. Every apartment-house has a 
tradesmen 1 's-entrance. In Charles street, in Baltimore, some 
time ago, the proprietor of a fashionable stationery store directed 
me, not to the elevator, but to the lift. 

Occasionally, some uncompromising patriot raises his voice 
against these importations, but he seldom shows the vigorous 
indignation of the English purists, and he seldom prevails. 
White, in 1870, warned Americans against the figurative use of 
nasty as a synonym for disagreeable. 10 This use of the word 
was then relatively new in England, though, according to White, 
the Saturday Review and the Spectator had already succumbed. 
His objections to it were unavailing; nasty quickly got into 
American and has been there ever since. In 1883 Gilbert M. 
Tucker protested against good- form, traffic (in the sense of 
travel), to bargain and to tub as Briticisms that we might well 
do without, but all of them took root and are perfectly sound 
American today. There is, indeed, no intelligible reason why 
such English inventions and improvements should not be taken 
in, even though the motive behind the welcome to them may 
occasionally cause a smile. English, after all, is the mother of 
American, and the child, until lately, was still at nurse. The 
English, confronted by some of our fantastic innovations, may 
well regard them as impudences to be put down, but what they 

10 Words and Their Use, new ed.; New York, 1876, p. 198. 


offer in return often fits into our vocabulary without offering 
it any outrage. American, indeed, is full of lingering Briticisms, 
all maintaining a successful competition with native forms. If 
we take back shop it is merely taking back something that store 
has never been able to rid us of: we use shop-worn, shoplifter, 
shopping, shopper, shop-girl and to shop every day. In the 
same way the word penny has survived among us, despite the 
fact that there has been no American coin of that name for 
more than 125 years. We have nickel-in-the-slot machines, but 
when they take a cent we call them penny-in-the-slot machines. 
We have penny-arcades and penny -whistles. We do not play 
cent-ante, but penny-ante. We still "turn an honest penny" 
and say "a penny for your thoughts." The pound and the 
shilling became extinct a century ago, but the penny still binds 
us to the mother tongue. 


Points of Difference These exchanges and coalescences, how- 
ever, though they invigorate each language with the blood of 
the other and are often very striking in detail, are neither 
numerous enough nor general enough to counteract the cen- 
trifugal force which pulls them apart. The simple fact is that 
the spirit of English and the spirit^ of A"merican have been at 
o'cTds for nearly a century, and that the way of one is not the 
w7ty""of"'tne^ other The loan-words that fly to and fro, when 
'examined closely, are found to be few in number both relatively 
and absolutely : they do not greatly affect the larger movements 
of the two languages. Many of them, indeed, are little more 
than temporary borrowings ; they are not genuinely adopted, but 
merely momentarily fashionable. The class of Englishmen which 
affects American phrases is perhaps but little larger, taking one 
year with another, than the class of Americans which affects 
English phrases. This last class, it must be plain, is very small. 
Leave the large cities and you will have difficulty finding any 
members of it. It is circumscribed, not because there is any 
very formidable prejudice against English locutions as such, 


but simply because recognizably English locutions, in a good 
many cases, do not fit into the American language. The Amer- 
ican thinks in American and the Englishman in English, and it 
requires a definite effort, usually but defectively successful, for 
either to put his thoughts into the actual idiom of the other. 

The difficulties of this enterprise are well exhibited, though 
quite unconsciously, by W. L. George in a chapter entitled "Lit- 
any of the Novelist" in his book of criticism, "Literary Chap- 
ters. ' ' 1X This chapter, it is plain by internal evidence, was 
written, not for Englishmen, but for Americans. A good part 
of it, in fact, is in the second person we are addressed and 
argued with directly. And throughout there is an obvious en- 
deavor to help out comprehension by a studied use of purely 
American phrases and examples. One hears, not of the East 
End, but of the East Side; not of the City, but of Wall Street; 
not of Belgravia or the West End, but of Fifth avenue; not of 
bowler hats, but of Derbys; not of idlers in pubs, but of saloon 
loafers; not of pounds, shillings and pence, but of dollars and 
cents. In brief, a gallant attempt upon a strange tongue, and 
by a writer of the utmost skill but a hopeless failure none the 
less. In the midst of his best American, George drops into 
Briticism after Briticism, some of them quite as unintelligible 
to the average American reader as so many Gallicisms. On 
page after page they display the practical impossibility of the 
enterprise: back-garden for back-yard, perambulator for baby- 
carriage, corn-market for gfraw-market, coal-owner for coal- 
operator, post for mail, and so on. And to top them there are 
English terms that have no American equivalents at all, for 
example, kitchen-fender. 

The same failure, perhaps usually worse, is displayed every 
time an English novelist or dramatist essays to put an American 
into a novel or a play, and to make him speak American. How- 
ever painstakingly it is done, the Englishman invariably falls 
into capital blunders, and the result is derided by Americans 
as Mark Twain derided the miners' lingo of Bret Harte, and for 
the same reason. The thing lies deeper than vocabulary and 

11 Boston, 1918, pp. 1-43. 


even than pronunciation and intonation; the divergences show 
themselves in habits of speech that are fundamental and almost 
indefinable. And when the transoceanic gesture is from the 
other direction they become even plainer. An Englishman, in 
an American play, seldom shows the actual speech habit of the 
Sassenach; what he shows is the speech habit of an American 
actor trying to imitate George Alexander. "There are not five 
playwrights in America, ' ' said Channing Pollock one day, ' ' who 
can write English" that is, the English of familiar discourse. 
"Why should there be?" replied Louis Sherwin. "There are 
not five thousand people in America who can speak English. ' ' 12 
The elements that enter into the special character of American 
have been rehearsed in the first chapter : a general impatience of 
S rule and restraint, a democratic enmity to all authority, an ex- 
travagant and often grotesque humor, an extraordinary capacity 
Vfor metaphor 13 in brief, all the natural marks of what Van 
Wyck Brooks calls "a popular life which bubbles with energy 
and spreads and grows and slips away ever more and more from 
the control of tested ideas, a popular life with the lid off. ' ' 14 
This is the spirit of America, and from it the American language 
is nourished. Brooks, perhaps, generalizes a bit too lavishly. 
Below the surface there is also a curious conservatism, even a 
sort of timorousness ; in a land of manumitted peasants the pri- 
mary trait of the peasant is bound to show itself now and then ; 
as Wendell Phillips once said, "more than any other people, we 
Americans are afraid of one another" that is, afraid of oppo- 
sition, of derision, of all the consequences of singularity. But in 
the field of language, as in that of politics, this suspicion of the 
new is often transformed into a suspicion of the merely unfa- 
miliar, and so its natural tendency toward conservatism is over- 
come. It is of the essence of democracy that it remain a govern- 
ment by amateurs, ,and under a government by amateurs it is 
precisely the expert who is most questioned and it is the expert 

12 Green Book Magazine, Nov., 1913, p. 768. 

!3 An interesting note on this characteristic is in College Words and 
Phrases, by Eugene H. Babbitt, Dialect Notes, vol. ii, pt. i, p. 11. 
1 * America's Coming of Age; p. 15. 


who commonly stresses the experience of the past. And in a 
democratic society it is not the iconoclast who seems most revo- 
lutionary, but the purist. The derisive designation of high-brow 
is thoroughly American in more ways than one. It is a word 
put together in an unmistakably American fashion, it reflects an 
habitual American attitude of mind, and its potency in debate 
is peculiarly national too. 

I daresay it is largely a fear of the weapon in it and there are 
many others of like effect in the arsenal which accounts for the 
far greater prevalence of idioms from below in the formal speech 
of America than in the formal speech of England. There is 
surely no English novelist of equal rank whose prose shows so 
much of colloquial looseness and ease as one finds in the prose of 
Howells : to find a match for it one must go to the prose of the 
neo-Celts, professedly modelled upon the speech of peasants, and 
almost proudly defiant of English grammar and syntax, and to 
the prose of the English themselves before the Restoration. Nor 
is it imaginable that an Englishman of comparable education and 
position would ever employ such locutions as those I have hith- 
erto quoted from the public addresses of Dr. Wilson that is, 
innocently, seriously, as a matter of course. The Englishman, 
when he makes use of coinages of that sort, does so in conscious 
relaxation, and usually with a somewhat heavy sense of doggish- 
ness. They are proper to the paddock or even to the dinner 
table, but scarcely to serious scenes and occasions. But in the 
United States their use is the rule rather than the exception ; it is 
not the man who uses them, but the man who doesn't use them, 
who is marked off. Their employment, if high example counts 
for anything, is a standard habit of the language, as their diligent 
avoidance is a standard habit of English. 

A glance through the Congressional Record is sufficient to show 
how small is the minority of purists among the chosen leaders of 
the nation. Within half an hour, turning the pages at random, 
I find scores of locutions that would paralyze the stenographers 
in the House of Commons, and they are in the speeches, not of 
wild mavericks from the West, but of some of the chief men of 
the two Houses. Surely no Senator occupied a more conspicuous 


position, during the first year of the war, than Lee S. Overman, 
of North Carolina, chairman of the Committee on Rules, and 
commander of the administration forces on the floor. Well, I 
find Senator Overman using to enthuse in a speech of the utmost 
seriousness and importance, and not once, but over and over 
again. 15 I turn back a few pages and encounter it again this 
time in the mouth of General Sherwood, of Ohio. A few more, 
and I find a fit match for it, to wit, to biograph. 16 The speaker 
here is Senator L. Y. Sherman, of Illinois. In the same speech 
he uses to resolute. A few more, and various other characteristic 
verbs are unearthed : to demagogue? 7 to dope out, 18 to fall down 19 
(in the sense of to fail), to jack up, 20 to phone, 21 to peeve, 22 to 
come across 23 to hike, to butt in, 2 * to back pedal, to get solid with, 
to hooverize, to trustify, to feature, to insurge, to haze, to remi- 
nisce, to camouflage, to play for a sucker, and so on, almost ad 
infinitum. And with them, a large number of highly American 
nouns, chiefly compounds, all pressing upward for recognition: 
tin-Lizzie, brain-storm, come-down, pin-head, trustification, pork- 
barrel, buck-private, dough-boy, cow-country. And adjectives: 
jitney, bush (for rural), balled-up, 25 dolled-up, phoney, tax- 
paid. 26 And phrases : dollars to doughnuts, on the job, that gets 
me, one best bet. And back-formations : ad, movie, photo. And 

is March 26, 1918, pp. 4376-7. 
ie Jan. 14, 1918, p. 903. 

IT Mr. Campbell, of Kansas, in the House, Jan. 19, 1918, p. 1134. 
is Mr. Hamlin, of Missouri, in the House, Jan. 19, 1918, p. 1154. 
i Mr. Kirby, of Arkansas, in the Senate, Jan. 24, 1918, p. 1291; Mr. 
Lewis, of Illinois, in the Senate, June 6, 1918, p. 8024. 

20 Mr. Weeks of Massachusetts, in the Senate, Jan. 17, 1918, p. 988. 

21 Mr. Smith, of South Carolina, in the Senate, Jan. 17, 1918, p. 991. 

22 Mr. Borland, of Missouri, in the House, Jan. 29, 1918, p. 1501. 

23 May 4, 1917, p. 1853. 

24 Mr. Snyder, of New York, Dec. 11, 1917. 

25 Balled-up and its verb, to ball up, were originally somewhat improper, 
no doubt on account of the slang significance of ball, but of late they have 
made steady progress toward polite acceptance. 

26 After the passage of the first War Revenue Act cigar-boxes began to 
bear this inscription: "The contents of this box have been taxed paid 
as cigars of Class B as indicated by the Internal Revenue stamp affixed." 
Even tax-paid, which was later substituted, is obviously better than thia 
clumsy double inflection. 


various substitutions and Americanized inflections : over for more 
than, gotten for got in the present perfect, 27 rile for roil, bust for 
burst. This last, in truth, has come into a dignity that even 
grammarians will soon hesitate to question. Who, in America, 
would dare to speak of bursting a broncho, or of a tmst- 
bursterf 28 


Lost Distinctions This general iconoclasm reveals itself espe- 
cially in a disdain for most of the niceties of modern English. 
The American, like the Elizabethan Englishman, is usually quite 
unconscious of them and even when they have been instilled into 
him by the hard labor of pedagogues he commonly pays little 
heed to them in his ordinary discourse. The English distinction 
between will and shall offers a salient case in point. This dis- 
tinction, it may be said at once, is far more a confection of the 
grammarians than a product of the natural forces shaping the 
language. It has, indeed, little etymological basis, and is but 
imperfectly justified logically. One finds it disregarded in the 
Authorized Version of the Bible, in all the plays of Shakespeare, 
in the essays of the reign of Anne, and in some of the best exam- 
ples of modern English literature. The theory behind it is so 
inordinately abstruse that the Fowlers, in "The King's Eng- 
lish, ' ' 29 require 20 pages to explain it, and even then they come 
to the resigned conclusion that the task is hopeless. "The idio- 
matic use [of the two auxiliaries]," they say, "is so complicated 
that those who are not to the manner born can hardly acquire 
it. ' ' 30 "Well, even those who are to the manner born seem to find 

27 Mr. Bankhead, of Alabama, in the Senate, May 14, 1918, p. 6995. 

28 Bust seems to be driving out burst completely when used figurative- 
ly. Even in a literal sense it creeps into more or less respectable 
usage. Thus I find "a busted tire" in a speech by Gen. Sherwood, of Ohio, 
in the House, Jan. 24, 1918. The familiar American derivative, buster, 
as in Buster Broum, is unknown to the English. 

20 Pp. 133-154. 

so L. Pearsall Smith, in The English Language, p. 29, says that "the 
differentiation is ... so complicated that it can hardly be mastered by 
those born in parts of the British Islands in which it has not yet been 
established" e. g., all of Ireland and most of Scotland. 


it difficult, for at once the learned authors cite blunder in the 
writings of Richardson, Stevenson, Gladstone, Jowett, Oscar 
Wilde, and even Henry Sweet, author of the best existing gram- 
mar of the English language. In American the distinction is 
almost lost. No ordinary American, save after the most labori- 
ous reflection, would detect anything wrong in this sentence from 
the London Times, denounced as corrupt by the Fowlers: "We 
must reconcile what we would like to do with what we can do. ' ' 
Nor in this by W. B. Yeats: "The character who delights us 
may commit murder like Macbeth . . . and yet we will rejoice 
in every happiness that comes to him." Half a century ago, 
impatient of the effort to fasten the English distinction upon 
American, George P. Marsh attacked it as of " no logical value or 
significance whatever," and predicted that "at no very distant 
day this verbal quibble will disappear, and one of the auxiliaries 
will be employed, with all persons of the nominative, exclusively 
as the sign of the future, and the other only as an expression of 
purpose or authority. ' ' 31 This prophecy has been substantially 
verified. Will is sound American "with all persons of the nom- 
inative," and shall is almost invariably an "expression of pur- 
pose or authority. ' ' 32 

And so, though perhaps not to the same extent, with who and 
whom. Now and then there arises a sort of panicky feeling that 
whom is being neglected, and so it is trotted out, 33 but in the 

si Quoted by White, in Words and Their Uses, pp. 264-5. White, how- 
ever, dissented vigorously and devoted 10 pages to explaining the difference 
between the two auxiliaries. Most of the other authorities of the time 
were also against Marsh for example, Richard Meade Bache (See hia 
Vulgarisms and Other Errors of Speech, p. 92 et seq. ) . Sir Edmund Head, 
governor-general of Canada from 1854 to 1861, wrote a whole book upon the 
subject: Shall and Will, or Two Chapters on Future Auxiliary Verbs; Lon- 
don, 1856. 

32 The probable influence of Irish immigration upon the American usage 
is not to be overlooked. Joyce says flatly (English As We Speak It ;n 
Ireland, p. 77) that, "like many another Irish idiom this is also found in 
American society chiefly through the influence of the Irish." At all events, 
the Irish example must have reinforced it. In Ireland "Will I light the 
fire, ma'am?" is colloquially sound. 

33 Often with such amusing results as "whom is your father ?" and "whom 
spoke to me?" The exposure of excesses of that sort always attracts the 
wits, especially Franklin P. Adams. 


main the American language tends to dispense with it, at least 
in its least graceful situations. Noah Webster, always the prag- 
matic reformer, denounced it so long ago as 1783. Common 
sense, he argued, was on the side of "who did he marry?" To- 
day such a form as "whom are you talking to?" would seem 
somewhat affected in ordinary discourse in America; "who are 
you talking to?" is heard a thousand times oftener and is 
doubly American, for it substitutes who for whom and puts a 
preposition at the end of a sentence : two crimes that most English 
purists would seek to avoid. It is among the pronouns that the 
only remaining case inflections in English are to be found, if we 
forget the possessive, and even here these survivors of an earlier 
day begin to grow insecure. Lounsbury's defense of "it is 
me," 34 as we shall see in the next chapter, has support in the 
history and natural movement of the language, and that move- 
ment is also against the preservation of the distinction between 
who and whom. The common speech plays hob with both of the 
orthodox inflections, despite the protests of grammarians, and in 
the long run, no doubt, they will be forced to yield to its pressure, 
as they have always yielded in the past. Between the dative and 
accusative on the one side and the nominative on the other there 
has been war in the English language for centuries, and it has 
always tended to become a war of extermination. Our now uni- 
versal use of you for ye in the nominative shows the dative and 
accusative swallowing the nominative, and the practical disap- 
pearance of hither, thither and whither, whose place is now taken 
by here, there and where, shows a contrary process. In such 
wars a posse comitatus marches ahead of the disciplined army. 
American stands to English in the relation of that posse to that 
army. It is incomparably more enterprising, more contemptu- 
ous of precedent and authority, more impatient of rule. 

A shadowy line often separates what is currently coming into 
sound usage from what is still regarded as barbarous. No self- 
respecting American, I daresay, would defend ain't as a substi- 

34 "It is 7" is quite as unsound historically. The correct form would 
be "it am I" or "I am it." Compare the German: '"ich bin es," not, "es 
ist ich." 


tute for isn't, say in "he ain't the man," and yet ain't is already 
tolerably respectable in the first person, where English counte- 
nances the even more clumsy aren't. Aren't has never got a 
foothold in the American first person; when it is used at all, 
which is very rarely, it is always as a conscious Briticism. 
Facing the alternative of employing the unwieldy ' ' am I not in 
this?" the American turns boldly to "ain't I in this?" It still 
grates a bit, perhaps, but aren't grates even more. Here, as al- 
ways, the popular speech is pulling the exacter speech along, and 
no one familiar with its successes in the past can have much doubt 
that it will succeed again, soon or late. In the same way it is 
breaking down the inflectional distinction between adverb and 
adjective, so that "I feel bad" begins to take on the dignity of 
a national idiom, and sure, to go big and run slow 35 become al- 
most respectable. When, on the entrance of the United States 
into the war, the Marine Corps chose "treat 'em rough" as its 
motto, no one thought to raise a grammatical objection, and the 
clipped adverb was printed upon hundreds of thousands of pos- 
ters and displayed in every town in the country, always with 
the imprimatur of the national government. So, again, Ameri- 
can, in its spoken form, tends to obliterate the distinction be- 
tween nearly related adjectives, e. g., healthful and healthy, 
tasteful and tasty. And to challenge the somewhat absurd text- 
book prohibition of terminal prepositions, so that ' ' where are we 
atf" loses its old raciness. And to dally with the double nega- 
tive, as in "I have no doubt but that. ' ' 36 

But these tendencies, or at least the more extravagant of them, 
belong to the next chapter. How much influence they exert, even 

ss A common direction to motormen and locomotive engineers. The 
English form is "slow down." I note, however, that "drive slowZt/" is in 
the taxicab shed at the Pennsylvania Station, in New York. 

so I quote from a speech made by Senator Sherman, of Illinois, in the 
United States Senate on June 20, 1918. Vide Congressional Record for that 
day, p. 8743. Two days later, "There is no question but that" appeared 
in a letter by John Lee Coulter, A.M., Ph.D., dean of West Virginia 
University. It was read into the Record of June 22 by Mr. Ashwell, one 
of the Louisiana representatives. Even the pedantic Senator Henry Cabot 
Lodge, oozing Harvard from every pore, uses but that. Vide the Record 
for May 14, 1918, p. 6996. 


indirectly, is shown by the American disdain of the English pre- 
cision in the use of the indefinite pronoun. I turn to the Satur- 
day Evening Post, and in two minutes find: "one feels like an 
atom when he begins to review his own life and deeds. ' ' 3T The 
error is very rare in English; the Fowlers, seeking examples of 
it, could get them only from the writings of a third-rate woman 
novelist, Scotch to boot. But it is so common in American that 
it scarcely attracts notice. Neither does the appearance of a re- 
dundant s in such words as towards, downwards, afterwards and 
heavenwards. In England this s is used relatively seldom, and 
then it usually marks a distinction in meaning, as it does on both 
sides of the ocean between beside and besides. "In modern 
standard English," says Smith, 38 "though not in the English of 
the United States, a distinction which we feel, but many of us 
could not define, is made between forward and forwards; for- 
wards being used in definite contrast to any other direction, as 
'if you move at all, you can only move forwards,' while forward 
is used where no such contrast is implied, as in the common 
phrase ' to bring a matter forward. ' " 39 This specific distinc- 
tion, despite Smith, probably retains some force in the United 
States too, but in general our usage allows the s in cases where 
English usage would certainly be against it. Gould, in the 50 's, 
noted its appearance at the end of such words as somewhere and 
anyway, and denounced it as vulgar and illogical. Thornton has 
traced anyways back to 1842 and shown that it is an archaism, 
and to be found in the Book of Common Prayer (circa 1560) ; 
perhaps it has been preserved by analogy with sideways. Henry 
James, in "The Question of Our Speech," attacked "such forms 
of impunity as somewheres else and nowheres else, a good ways 
on and a good ways off" as "vulgarisms with what a great deal 
of general credit for what we good-naturedly call 'refinement' 
appears so able to coexist. ' ' 40 Towards and afterwards, though 
frowned upon in England, are now quite sound in American. I 

37 June 15, 1918, p. 62. 
3 The English Language, p. 79. 

39 This phrase, of course, is a Briticism, and seldom used in America. 
The American form is "to take a matter up." 
P. 30. 


find the former in the title of an article in Dialect Notes, which 
plainly gives it scholastic authority. 41 More (and with no little 
humor), I find it in the deed of a fund given to the American 
Academy of Arts and Letters to enable the gifted philologs of 
that sanhedrin "to consider its duty towards the conservation of 
the English language in its beauty and purity. ' ' 42 Both to- 
wards and afterwards, finally, are included in the New York 
Evening Post's list of "words no longer disapproved when in 
their proper places," along with over for more than, and during 
for in the course of. 

In the last chapter we glanced at several salient differences 
between the common coin of English and the common coin of 
American that is, the verbs and adjectives in constant collo- 
quial use the rubber-stamps, so to speak, of the two languages. 
America has two adverbs that belong to the same category. 
They are right and good. Neither holds the same place in Eng- 
lish. Thornton shows that the use of right, as in right away, 
right good and right now, was already widespread in the United 
States early in the last century; his first example is dated 1818. 
He believes that the locution was "possibly imported from the 
southwest of Ireland. ' ' Whatever its origin, it quickly attracted 
the attention of English visitors. Dickens noted right away as 
an almost universal Americanism during his first American tour, 
in 1842, and poked fun at it in the second chapter of "American 
Notes." Right is used as a synonym for directly, as in right 
away, right off, right now and right on time; for moderately, as 
in right well, right smart, right good and right often, and in 
place of precisely, as in right there. Some time ago, in an article 
on Americanisms, an English critic called it "that most distinc- 
tively American word, ' ' and concocted the following dialogue to 
instruct the English in its use : 

How do I get to *? 

Go right along 1 , and take the first turning (sic) on the right, and 
you are right there. 

41 A Contribution Towards, etc., by Prof. H. Tallichet, vol. 1, pt. iv. 

42 Yale Review, April, 1918, p. 545. 


Eight! 43 

Like W. L. George, this Englishman failed in his attempt to 
write correct American despite his fine pedagogical passion. No 
American would ever say "take the first turning"; he would say 
"turn at the first corner." As for right away, R. 0. Williams 
argues that "so far as analogy can make good English, it is as 
good as one could choose. ' ' ** Nevertheless, the Oxford Diction- 
ary admits it only as an Americanism, and avoids all mention of 
the other American uses of right as an adverb. Good is almost 
as protean. It is not only used as a general synonym for all 
adjectives and adverbs connoting satisfaction, as in to feel good, 
to be treated good, to sleep good, but also as a reinforcement to 
other adjectives and adverbs, as in "I hit him good and hard" 
and "I am good and tired." Of late some has come into wide 
use as an adjective-adverb of all work, indicating special excel- 
lence or high degree, as in some girl, some sick, going some, etc. 
It is still below the salt, but threatens to reach a more respectable 
position. One encounters it in the newspapers constantly and 
in the Congressional Record, and not long ago a writer in the 
Atlantic Monthly 45 hymned it ecstatically as "some word a true 
super-word, in fact" and argued that it could be used "in a sense 
for which there is absolutely no synonym in the dictionary." 
Basically, it appears to be an adjective, but in many of its com- 
mon situations the grammarians would probably call it an adverb. 
It gives no little support to the growing tendency, already no- 
ticed, to break down the barrier between the two parts of speech. 


Foreign Influences Today No other great nation of today 
supports so large a foreign population as the United States, 

43 I Speak United States, Saturday Review, Sept. 22, 1894. 

44 Our Dictionaries, pp. 84-86. 

45 Should Language Be Abolished? by Harold Goddard, Atlantic Monthly, 
July, 1918, p. 63. 


either relatively or absolutely ; none other contains so many for- 
eigners forced to an effort, often ignorant and ineffective, to 
master the national language. Since 1820 nearly 35,000,000 
immigrants have come into the country, and of them probably 
not 10,000,000 brought any preliminary acquaintance with Eng- 
lish with them. The census of 1910 showed that nearly 1,500,000 
persons then living permanently on American soil could not 
speak it at all ; that more than 13,000,000 had been born in other 
countries, chiefly of different language ; and that nearly 20,000,- 
000 were the children of such immigrants, and hence under the 
influence of their speech habits. Altogether, there were prob- 
ably at least 25,000,000 whose house language was not the vul- 
gate, and who thus spoke it in competition with some other lan- 
guage. No other country houses so many aliens. In Great Brit- 
ain the alien population, for a century past, has never been more 
than 2 per cent of the total population, and since the passage 
of the Alien Act of 1905 it has tended to decline steadily. In 
Germany, in 1910, there were but 1,259,873 aliens in a popula- 
tion of more than 60,000,000, and of these nearly a half were 
German-speaking Austrians and Swiss. In France, in 1906, 
there were 1,000,000 foreigners in a population of 39,000,000 and 
a third of them were French-speaking Belgians, Luxembourgeois 
and Swiss. In Italy, in 1911, there were but 350,000 in a popu- 
lation of 35,000,000. 

TTiis large and constantly reinforced admixture of foreigners 
has naturally exerted a constant pressure upon the national lan- 
guage, for the majority of them, at least in the first generation, 
have found it quite impossible to acquire it in any purity, and 
even their children have grown up with speech habits differing 
radically from those of correct English. The effects of this pres- 
sure are obviously two-fold ; on the one hand the foreigner, strug- 
gling with a strange and difficult tongue, makes efforts to sim- 
plify it as much as possible, and so strengthens the native tend- 
ency to disregard all niceties and complexities, and on the other 
hand he corrupts it with words and locutions from the language 
he has brought with him, and sometimes with whole idioms and 
grammatical forms. We have seen, in earlier chapters, how the 


Dutch and French of colonial days enriched the vocabulary of 
the colonists, how the German immigrants of the first half of the 
nineteenth century enriched it still further, and how the Irish of 
the same period influenced its everyday usages. The same proc- 
ess is still going on. The Italians, the Slavs, and, above all, the 
Russian Jews, make steady contributions to the American vocab- 
ulary and idiom, and though these contributions are often con- 
cealed by quick and complete naturalization their foreignness to 
English remains none the less obvious. / should worry,* 6 in its 
way, is correct English, but in essence it is as completely Yid- 
dish as kosher, ganof, schadchen, oi-yoi, matzoh or mazuma*'' 
Black-hand, too, is English in form, but it is nevertheless as 
plainly an Italian loan-word as spaghetti, mafia or padrone. 

The extent of such influences upon American, and particularly 
upon spoken American, remains to be studied ; in the whole liter- 
ature I can find but one formal article upon the subject. That 
article 48 deals specifically with the suffix -fest, which came into 
American from the German and was probably suggested by fa- 
miliarity with sdngerfest. There is no mention of it in any of 
the dictionaries of Americanisms, and yet, in such forms as talk- 
fest and gabfest it is met with almost daily. So with -heimer, 
-inski and -bund. Several years ago -heimer had a great vogue 
in slang, and was rapidly done to death. But unseheimer re- 

4*5 In Yiddish, ish ka bibble. The origin and meaning of the phrase 
have been variously explained. The prevailing notion seems to be that it is 
a Yiddish corruption of the German nicht gefiedelt ( not fiddled = not 
flustered). But this seems to me to be fanciful. To the Jews ish is ob- 
viously the first personal pronoun and kaa probably corruption of kann. 
As for bibble I siispect that it is the offspring of bedibbert ( embarrassed, 
intimidated). The phrase thus has an ironical meaning, / should be embar- 
rassed, almost precisely equivalent to / should worry. * 

4? All of which, of course, are coming into American, along with many 
other Yiddish words. These words tend to spread far beyond the areas 
actually settled by Jews. Thus I find mazuma in A Word-List from Kansas, 
from the collectanea of Judge J. C. Ruppenthal, of Russell, Kansas, Dialect 
Notes, vol. iv. pt. v, 1916, p. 322. 

48 Louise Pound: Domestication of the Suffix -fest, Dialect Notes, vol. iv, 
pt. v, 1916. Dr. Pound, it should be mentioned, has also printed a brief 
note on -inski. Her observation of American is peculiarly alert and ac- 


mains in colloquial use as a facetious synonym for smart-aleck, 
and after awhile it may gradually acquire dignity. Far lowlier 
words, in fact, have worked their way in. Buttinski, perhaps, is 
going the same route. As for the words in -bund, many of them 
are already almost accepted. Plunder-bund is now at least as 
good as park-barrel and slush-fund, and money-bund is frequently 
heard in Congress. 49 Such locutions creep in stealthily, and are 
secure before they are suspected. Current slang, out of which 
the more decorous language dredges a large part of its raw ma- 
terials, is full of them. Nix and nixy, for no, are debased forms 
of the German nichts; aber nit, once as popular as camouflage, is 
obviously aber nicht. And a steady flow of nouns, all needed to 
designate objects introduced by immigrants, enriches the vocab- 
ulary. The Hungarians not only brought their national condi- 
ment with them; they also brought its name, paprika, and that 
name is now thoroughly American. 50 In the same way the Ital- 
ians brought in camorra, padrone, spaghetti and a score of other 
substantives, and the Jews made contributions from Yiddish and 
Hebrew and greatly reinforced certain old borrowings from Ger- 
man. Once such a loan-word gets in it takes firm root. During 
the first year of American participation in the World War an 
effort was made, on patriotic grounds, to substitute liberty-cab- 
bage for sour-kraut, but it quickly failed, for the name had be- 
come as completely Americanized as the thing itself, and so 
liberty-cabbage seemed affected and absurd. In the same way 
a great many other German words survived the passions of the 
time. Nor could all the influence of the professional patriots 
obliterate that German influence which has fastened upon the 
American yes something of the quality of ja. 

Constant familiarity with such contributions from foreign lan- 
guages and with the general speech habits of foreign peoples has 
made American a good deal more hospitable to loan-words than 
English, even in the absence of special pressure. Let the same 

49 For example, see the Congressional Record for April 3, 1918, p. 4928. 

so Paprika is in the Standard Dictionary, but I have been unable to find 
it in any English dictionary. Another such word is kimono, from the 


word knock at the gates of the two languages, and American will 
admit it more readily, and give it at once a wider and more inti- 
mate currency. Examples are afforded by cafe, vaudeville, em- 
ploye, boulevard, cabaret, toilette, expose, kindergarten, depot, 
fete and menu. Cafe, in American, is a word of much larger and 
more varied meaning than in English and is used much more 
frequently, and by many more persons. So is employe, in the 
naturalized form of employee. So is toilet: we have even seen it 
as a euphemism for native terms that otherwise would be in daily 
use. So is kindergarten: I read lately of a kindergarten for the 
elementary instruction of conscripts. Such words are not un- 
known to the Englishman, but when he uses them it is with a 
plain sense of their foreignness. In American they are com- 
pletely naturalized, as is shown by the spelling and pronuncia- 
tion of most of them. An American would no more think of 
attempting the French pronunciation of depot or of putting the 
French accents upon it than he would think of spelling toilet 
with the final te or of essaying to pronounce Anheuser in the 
German manner. Often curious battles go on between such loan- 
words and their English equivalents, and with varying fortunes. 
In 1895 Weber and Fields tried to establish music-hall in New 
York, but it quickly succumbed to vaudeville-theatre, as variety 
had succumbed to vaudeville before it. In the same way lawn- 
fete (without the circumflex accent, and commonly pronounced 
feet) has elbowed out the English garden-party. But now and 
then, when the competing loan-word happens to violate American 
speech habits, a native term ousts it. The French creche offers 
an example; it has been entirely displaced by day-nursery. 

The English, in this matter, display their greater conservatism 
very plainly. Even when a loan-word enters both English and 
American simultaneously a sense of foreignness lingers about it 
on the other side of the Atlantic much longer than on this side, 
and it is used with far more self-consciousness. The word 
matinee offers a convenient example. To this day the English 
commonly print it in italics, give it its French accent, and pro- 
nounce it with some attempt at the French manner. But in 
America it is entirely naturalized, and the most ignorant man 


uses it without any feeling that it is strange. The same lack of 
any sense of linguistic integrity is to be noticed in many other 
directions for example, in the freedom with which the Latin per 
is used with native nouns. One constantly sees per day, per 
dozen, per hundred, per mile, etc., in American newspapers, even 
the most careful, but in England the more seemly a is almost 
always used, or the noun itself is made Latin, as in per diem. 
Per, in fact, is fast becoming an everyday American word. Such 
phrases as "as per your letter (or order) of the 15th inst." are 
incessantly met with in business correspondence. The same 
greater hospitality is shown by the readiness with which various 
un-English prefixes and affixes come into fashion, for example, 
super- and -itis. The English accept them gingerly ; the Ameri- 
cans take them in with enthusiasm, and naturalize them in- 
stanter. 51 

The same deficiency in reserve is to be noted in nearly all other 
colonialized dialects. The Latin- American variants of Spanish, 
for example, have adopted a great many words which appear in 
true Castilian only as occasional guests. Thus in Argentina 
matinee, menu, debut, toilette and femme de chambre are per- 
fectly good Argentine, and in Mexico sandwich and club have 
been thoroughly naturalized. The same thing is to be noted in 
the French of Haiti, in the Portuguese of Brazil, and even in the 
Danish of Norway. Once a language spreads beyond the country 
of its origin and begins to be used by people born, in the German 
phrase, to a different Sprachgefilhl, the sense of loyalty to its 
vocabulary is lost, along with the instinctive feeling for its idio- 
matic habits. How far this destruction of its forms may go in 
the absence of strong contrary influences is exhibited by the rise 
of the Romance languages from the vulgar Latin of the Roman 
provinces, and, here at home, by the decay of foreign languages 
in competition with English. The Yiddish that the Jews from 
Russia bring in is German debased with Russian, Polish and He- 
si Cf. Vogue Affixes in Present-Day Word-Coinage, by Louise Pound, 
Dialect Notes, vol. v, pt. i, 1918. Dr. Pound ascribes the vogue of super- 
to German influences, and is inclined to think that -dom may be helped by 
the German -thum. 


brew; in America, it quickly absorbs hundreds of words and 
idioms from the speech of the streets. Various conflicting Ger- 
man dialects, among the so-called Pennsylvania Dutch and in the 
German areas of the Northwest, combine in a patois that, in its 
end forms, shows almost as much English as German. Classical 
examples of it are "es giebt gar kein use," "Ich kann es nicht 
standen" and "mem stallion hat iiber die fenz gescheumpt und 
dem nachbar sein whiet abscheulich geddmdtscht." 52 The use of 
gleiche for to like, by false analogy from gleich (== like, similar) 
is characteristic. In the same way the Scandinavians in the 
Northwest corrupt their native Swedish and Dano-Norwegian. 
Thus, American-Norwegian is heavy with such forms as strit-kar, 
reit-eve, nekk-toi and staits-pruessen, for street-car, right away, 
necktie and states-prison, and admits such phrases as "det meka 
ingen difrens. ' ' S3 

The changes that Yiddish has undergone in America, though 
rather foreign to the present inquiry, are interesting enough to 
be noticed. First of all, it has admitted into its vocabulary a 
large number of everyday substantives, among them boy, chair, 
window, carpet, floor, dress, hat, watch, ceiling, consumption, 
property, trouble, bother, match, change, party, birthday, pic- 
ture, paper (only in the sense of newspaper), gambler, show, hall, 
kitchen, store, bedroom, key, mantelpiece, closet, lounge, broom, 
tablecloth, paint, landlord, fellow, tenant, shop, wages, foreman, 
sleeve, cottar, cuff, button, cotton, thimble, needle, pocket, bar- 
gain, sale, remnant, sample, haircut, razor, waist, basket, school, 
scholar, teacher, baby, mustache, butcher, grocery, dinner, street 
and walk. And with them many characteristic Americanisms, 

52 Vide Pennsylvania Dutch, by S. S. Haldeman; Philadelphia, 1872. 
Also, The Pennsylvania German Dialect, by M. D. Learned; Baltimore, 
1889. Also Die Zukunft deutscher Bildung in Amerika, by O. E. Lessing, 
Monatshefte fur deutsche Sprache und Pedagogik, Dec., 1916. Also, Where 
Do You Stand? by Herman Hagedorn; New York, 1918, pp. 106-7. Also, 
On the German Dialect Spoken in the Valley of Virginia, by H. M. Hays, 
Dialect Notes, vol. iii, pt. iv, 1908, pp. 263-78. 

53 Vide Notes on American-Norwegian, by Nils Flaten, Dialect Notes, vol. 
ii, 1900. Also, for similar corruptions, The Jersey Dutch Dialect, by J. 
Dyneley Prince, ibid., vol. iii, pt. vi, 1910, pp. 461-84. Also, see under 
Hempl, Flom, Bibaud, Buies and A. M. Elliott in the bibliography. 


for example, bluffer, faker, boodler, grafter, gangster, crook, guy, 
kike, piker, squealer, bum, cadet, boom, bunch, pants, vest, loafer, 
jumper, sloop, saleslady, ice-box and raise, with their attendant 
verbs and adjectives. These words are used constantly ; many of 
them have quite crowded out the corresponding Yiddish words. 
For example, ingel, meaning boy (it is a Slavic loan-word in Yid- 
dish) , has been obliterated by the English word. A Jewish im- 
migrant almost invariably refers to his son as his boy, though 
strangely enough he calls his daughter his meideL ' * Die boys mit 
die meidlach haben a good time" is excellent American Yiddish. 
In the same way fenster has been completely displaced by ?i- 
dow, though t ur (== door) has been left intact. Tisch (= table) 
also remains, but chair is always used, probably because few of 
the Jews had chairs in the old country. There the beinkel, a 
bench without a back, was in use ; chairs were only for the well- 
to-do. ~Floor has apparently prevailed because no invariable cor- 
responding word was employed at home : in various parts of Rus- 
sia and Poland a floor is a dill, a podlogc, or a bricke. So with 
ceiling. There were six different words for it. 

Yiddish inflections have been fastened upon most of these loan- 
words. Thus, "er hat ihm abgefaked" is "he cheated him," eu- 
bumt is the American gone to the bad, fix'n is to fix, usen is to 
use, and so on. The feminine and diminutive suffix -ke is often 
added to nouns. Thus bluffer gives rise to bluff erke (= hypo- 
crite), and one also notes dresskf, hatks, watchke and bummerke. 
"Oil is sie a bluff erke!" is good American Yiddish for "isn't 
she a hypocrite!" The suffix -nick t signifying agency, is also 
freely applied. Attrightnick means an upstart, an offensive 
boaster, one of whom his fellows would say "He is all right" 
with a sneer. Similarly, consumptionick means a victim of tuber- 
culosis. Other suffixes are -chick and -ige, the first exemplified 
in boy chick, a diminutive of boy, and the second in next-doorige, 
meaning the woman next-door, an important person in ghetto 
social life. Some of the loan-words, of course, undergo changes 
on Yiddish-speaking lips. Thus, landlord becomes lendler, 
lounge becomes lunch, tenant becomes tenner, and whiskers loses 
its final *. " Wie gefallt dir sein whiskerf " (= how do you like 


his beard?) is good Yiddish, ironically intended. Fellow, of 
course, changes to the American fetter, as in "Rosie hat schon a 
feller" (= Rosie has got a feller, i. e., a sweetheart). Show, in 
the sense of chance, is used constantly, as in "git ihm a show" 
(= give him a chance). Bad boy is adopted bodily, as in "er is 
a bad boy." To shut up is inflected as one word, as in "er hat 
nit gewolt shutup'n (=he wouldn't shut up). To catch is used 
in the sense of to obtain, as in " catch 'n a gmilath chesed" (= to 
raise a loan). Here, by the way, gmilath chesed is excellent 
Biblical Hebrew. To bluff, unchanged in form, takes on the new 
meaning of to lie : a bluffer is a liar. Scores of American phrases 
are in constant use, among them, all right, never mind, I bet you, 
no sir and I'll fix you. It is curious to note that sure Mike, bor- 
rowed by the American vulgate from Irish English, has gone over 
into American Yiddish. Finally, to make an end, here are two 
complete and characteristic American Yiddish sentences: "Sie 
wet clean' n die rooms, scrub' n dem floor, wash'n die windows, 
dress 'n dem boy und gehn in butcher-store und in grocery. Der- 
noch vet sie machen dinner und gehn in street fur a walk. 6 * 

American itself, in the Philippines, and to a lesser extent in 
Porto Rico and on the Isthmus, has undergone similar changes 
under the influence of Spanish and the native dialects. Maurice 
P. Dunlap 55 offers the following specimen of a conversation be- 
tween two Americans long resident in Manila : 

Hola, amigo. 
Komusta kayo. 

Porque were you hablaing with ese senoritaf 
She wanted a job as lavandera. 

Ten cents, conant, a piece, so I told her no kerry. 
Have you had chow? Well, spera till I sign this chit and I'll take 
a paseo with you. 

5* For all these examples of American Yiddish I am indebted to the 
kindness of Abraham Cahan, editor of the Jewish Daily Forward. Mr. 
Cahan is not only editor of the chief Yiddish newspaper of the United 
States, but also an extraordinarily competent writer of English, as his 
novel, The Rise of David Levinsky, demonstrates. 

ss What Americans Talk in the Philippines, American Review of Reviews, 
Aug., 1913. 


Here we have an example of Philippine American that shows 
all the tendencies of American Yiddish. It retains the general 
forms of American, but in the short conversation, embracing but 
41 different words, there are eight loan-words from the Spanish 
(Kola, amigo, porque, ese, senorita, lavandera, cuanto and paseo), 
two Spanish locutions in a debased form (spera for espera and 
no kerry for no quiro), two loan-words from the Taglog (komusta 
and kayo), two from Pigeon English (chow and chit), one Philip- 
pine-American localism (conant), and a Spanish verb with an 
English inflection (hablaing). 

^The immigrant in the midst of a large native population, of 
course, exerts no such pressure upon the national language as 
that exerted upon an immigrant language by the native, but 
nevertheless his linguistic habits and limitations have to be reck- 
oned with in dealing with him, and the concessions thus made 
necessary have a very ponderable influence upon the general 
speech. In the usual sense, as we have seen, there are no dialects 
in American ; two natives, however widely their birthplaces may 
be separated, never have any practical difficulty understanding 
each other. But there are at least quasi-dialects among the 
immigrants the Irish, the German, the Scandinavian, the Ital- 
ian, the Jewish, and so on and these quasi-dialects undoubtedly 
leave occasional marks, not only upon the national vocabulary, 
but also upon the general speech habits of the country, as in the 
case, for example, of the pronunciation of yes, already mentioned, 
and in that of the substitution of the diphthong oi for the 'Mr- 
sound in such words as world, journal and burn a Yiddishism 
now almost universal among the lower classes of New York, and 
threatening to spread. 56 More important, however, is the sup- 
port given to a native tendency by the foreigner's incapacity for 
employing (or even comprehending) syntax of any complexity, or 

words not of the simplest. This is the tendency toward succinct- 
t ' 

s Cf. The English of the Lower Classes in New York City and Vicinity, 
Dialect Notes, vol. i, pt. ix, 1896. It is curious to note that the same 
corruption occurs in the Spanish spoken in Santo Domingo. The Domini- 
cans thus change porque into poique. Cf. Santo Domingo, by Otto Schoen- 
rich; New York, 1918, p. 172. See also High School Circular No. 17, Dept. 
of Education, City of New York, June 19, 1912, p. 6. 


ness and clarity, at whatever sacrifice of grace. One English 
observer, Sidney Low, puts the chief blame for the general ex- 
plosiveness of American upon the immigrant, who must be com- 
municated with in the plainest words available, and is not socially 
worthy of the suavity of circumlocution anyhow. 57 In his turn 
the immigrant seizes upon these plainest words as upon a sort of 
convenient Lingua Franca his quick adoption of damn as a uni- 
versal adjective is traditional and throws his influence upon the 
side of the underlying speech habit when he gets on in the vul- 
gate. Many characteristic Americanisms of the sort to stagger 
lexicographers for example, near-silk have come from the 
Jews, whose progress in business is a good deal faster than their 
progress in English. Others, as we have seen, have come from 
the German immigrants of half a century ago, from the so-called 
Pennsylvania Dutch (who are notoriously ignorant and uncouth), 
and from the Irish, who brought with them a form of English 
already very corrupt. The same and similar elements greatly 
reinforce the congenital tendencies of the dialect toward the 
facile manufacture of compounds, toward a disregard of the dis- 
tinctions between parts of speech, and, above all, toward the 
throwing off of all etymological restraints. 


Processes of Word Formation Some of these tendencies, it 
has been pointed out, go back to the period of the first growth of 
American, and were inherited from the English of the time. 
They are the products of a movement which, reaching its height 
in the English of Elizabeth, was dammed up at home, so to speak, 
by the rise of linguistic self -consciousness toward the end of the 
reign of Anne, but continued almost unobstructed in the colonies. 
For example, there is what philologists call the habit of back- 
formation a sort of instinctive search, etymologically unsound, 
for short roots in long words. This habit, in Restoration days, 
precipitated a quasi-English word, mobile, from the Latin mobile 

"The American People, 2 vols.; New York, 1909-11, vol. ii, pp. 449-50. 
For a discussion of this effect of contact with foreigners upon a language 
see also Beach-la-Mar, by William Churchill; Washington, 1911, p. 11 et seq. 


vulgus, and in the days of William and Mary it went a step fur- 
ther by precipitating mob from mobile. Mob is now sound Eng- 
lish, but in the eighteenth century it was violently attacked by 
the new sect of purists, 58 and though it survived their onslaught 
they undoubtedly greatly impeded the formation and adoption 
of other words of the same category. But in the colonies the 
process went on unimpeded, save for the feeble protests of such 
stray pedants as Witherspoon and Boucher. Rattler for rattle- 
snake, pike for turnpike, draw for drawbridge, coon for raccoon, 
possum for opossum, cuss for customer, cute for acute, squash for 
askutasquash these American back-formations are already an- 
tique ; Sabbaday for Sabbath-day has actually reached the dignity 
of an archaism. To this day they are formed in great numbers ; 
scarcely a new substantive of more than two syllables comes in 
without bringing one in its wake. We have thus witnessed, 
within the past two years, the genesis of scores now in wide use 
and fast taking on respectability; phone for telephone, gas for 
gasoline, co-ed for co-educational, pop for populist, frat for fra- 
ternity, gym for gymnasium, movie for moving-picture, prep- 
school for preparatory-school, auto for automobile, aero for aero- 
plane. Some linger on the edge of vulgarity : pep for pepper, flu 
for influenza, plute for plutocrat, pen for penitentiary, con for 
confidence (as in com*man, con-game and to con), convict and 
consumption, defi for defiance, beaut for beauty, rep for reputa- 
tion, stenog for stenographer, ambish for ambition, vag for va- 
grant, champ for champion, pard for partner, coke for cocaine, 
simp for simpleton, diff for difference. Others are already in 
perfectly good usage : smoker for smoking-car, diner for dining- 
car, sleeper for sleeping-car, oleo for oleomargarine, hypo for 
hyposulphite of soda, Tank for Yankee, confab for confabulation, 
memo for memorandum, pop-concert for popular-concert. Ad 
for advertisement is struggling hard for recognition ; some of its 
compounds, e. g., ad-writer, want-ad, display-ad, ad-card, ad-rate, 
column-ad and ad-man, are already accepted in technical termi- 
nology. Boob for booby promises to become sound American in 
a few years ; its synonyms are no more respectable than it is. At 
es Vide Lounsbury : The Standard of Usage in English, pp. 65-7. 



its heels is bo for hobo, an altogether fit successor to bum for 
Zmmwer. 59 

^ A parallel movement shows itself in the great multiplication of 
common abbreviations. " Americans, as a rule," says Farmer, 
"employ abbreviations to an extent unknown in Europe. . . . 
This trait of the American character is discernible in every de- 
partment of the national life and thought." 60 0. K., C. 0. D., 
N. G., G. 0. P. (get out and push) and P. D. Q., are almost na- 
tional hall-marks; the immigrant learns them immediately after 
damn and go to hell. Thornton traces N. G. to 1840 ; C. 0. D. 
and P. D. Q. are probably as old. As for 0. K., it was in use so 
early as 1790, but it apparently did not acquire its present signifi- 
cance until the 20 's ; originally it seems to have meant ' ' ordered 
recorded. ' ' " During the presidential campaign of 1828 Jackson 's 
enemies, seeking to prove his illiteracy, alleged that he used it for 
"oil korrect." Of late the theory has been put forward that it 
is derived from an Indian word, okeh, signifying "so be it," 
and Dr. "Woodrow Wilson is said to support this theory and to 
use okeh in endorsing government papers, but I am unaware of 
the authority upon which the etymology is based. Bartlett says 
that the figurative use of A No. 1, as in an A No. 1 man, also 
originated in America, but this may not be true. There can be 
little doubt, however, about T. B. (for tuberculosis}, G. B. (for 
grand bounce), 23, on the Q. T., and D. & D. (drunk and dis- 
orderly). The language breeds such short forms of speech pro- 
digiously; every trade and profession has a host of them; they 
are innumerable in the slang of sport. 61 

What one sees under all this, account for it as one will, is a 
double habit, the which is, at bottom, sufficient explanation of 
the gap which begins to yawn between English and American, 
particularly on the spoken plane. On the one hand it is a habit 
of verbal economy- a jealous disinclination to waste two words 
on what can be put into one, a natural taste for the brilliant and 

50 For an exhaustive discussion of these formations cf. Clipped Words, 
by Elizabeth Wittman, Dialect Notes, vol. iv, pt. ii, 1914. 

so Americanisms Old and New, p. 1. 

ei Gf, Semi-Secret Abbreviations, by Percy W. Long, Dialect Notes, vol. 
iv, pt. iii, 1915. 


succinct, a disdain of all grammatical and lexicographical dainti- 
ness, born partly, perhaps, of ignorance, but also in part of a 
sound sense of their imbecility. And on the other hand there is 
a high relish and talent for metaphor in Brander Matthews' 
phrase, "a figurative vigor that the Elizabethans would have 
realized and understood. ' ' Just as the American rebels instinc- 
tively against such parliamentary circumlocutions as "I am not 
prepared to say" and "so much by way of being," 62 just as he 
would fret under the forms of English journalism, with its re- 
porting empty of drama, its third-person smothering of speeches 
\ and its complex and unintelligible jargon, 63 just so, in his daily 

1i speech and writing he chooses terseness and vividness whenever 
| there is any choice, and seeks to make one when it doesn't exist. 
There is more than mere humorous contrast between the famous 
placard in the wash-room of the British Museum : ' ' These Basins 
Are For Casual Ablutions Only, ' ' and the familiar sign at Amer- 
ican railroad-crossings : ' ' Stop ! Look ! Listen ! ' ' Between the 
two lies an abyss separating two cultures, two habits of mind, 
two diverging tongues. It is almost unimaginable that English- 
men, journeying up and down in elevators, would ever have 
stricken the teens out of their speech, turning sixteenth into 
simple six and twenty-fourth into four; the clipping is almost as 
far from their way of doing things as the climbing so high in the 
air. Nor have they the brilliant facility of Americans for making 
new words of grotesque but penetrating tropes, as in corn-fed, 
tight-wad, bone-head, bleachers and juice (for electricity) when 
they attempt such things the result is often lugubrious ; two hun- 
dred years of schoolmastering has dried up their inspiration. 
Nor have they the fine American hand for devising new verbs; 
to maffick and to limehouse are their best specimens in twenty 
years, and both have an almost pathetic flatness. Their business 
with the language, indeed, is not in this department. They are 

62 The classical example is in a parliamentary announcement by Sir 
Robert Peel: "When that question is made to me in a proper time, in a 
proper place, under proper qualifications, and with proper motives, I 
will hesitate long before I will refuse to take it into consideration." 

e Cf. On the Art of Writing, by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch ; p. 100 et seq. 


not charged with its raids and scoutings, but with the organiza- 
tion of its conquests and the guarding of its accumulated stores. 

For the student interested in the biology of language, as op- 
posed to its paleontology, there is endless material in the racy 
neologisms of American, and particularly in its new compounds 
and novel verbs. Nothing could exceed the brilliancy of such 
inventions as joy-ride, high-brow, road-louse, sob-sister, nature- 
faker, stand-patter, lounge-lizard, hash- foundry, buzz-wagon, 
has-been, end-seat-hog, shoot -the-chutes and grape-juice-diplo- 
macy. They are bold; they are vivid; they have humor; they 
meet genuine needs. Joy-ride, I note, is already going over into 
English, and no wonder. There is absolutely no synonym for it ; 
to convey its idea in orthodox English would take a whole sen- 
tence. And so, too, with certain single words of metaphorical 
origin : barrel for large and illicit wealth, pork for unnecessary 
and dishonest appropriations of public money, joint for illegal 
liquor-house, tenderloin for gay and dubious neighborhood. 6 * 
Most of these, and of the new compounds with them, belong to 
the vocabulary of disparagement. Here an essential character 
of the American shows itself : his tendency to combat the disagree- 
able with irony, to heap ridicule upon what he is suspicious of 
or doesn't understand. 

The rapidity with which new verbs are made in the United 
States is really quite amazing. Two days after the first regula- 
tions of the Food Administration were announced, to hooverize 
appeared spontaneously in scores of newspapers, and a week later 
it was employed without any visible sense of its novelty in the 
debates of Congress and had taken on a respectability equal to 
that of to bryanize, to fletcherize and to oslerize. To electrocute 
appeared inevitably in the first public discussion of capital pun- 

6* This use of tenderloin is ascribed to Alexander (alias "Clubber") Wil- 
liams, a New York police captain. Vide the JV etc York Sun, July 11, 
1913. Williams, in 1876, was transferred from an obscure precinct to West 
Thirtieth Street. "I've been having chuck steak ever since I've been on 
the force," he said, "and now I'm going to have a bit of tenderloin." "The 
name," says the Sun, "has endured more than a generation, moving with 
the changed amusement geography of the city, and has been adopted in all 
parts of the country." 


ishment by electricity ; to taxi came in with the first taxi-cabs ; to 
commute no doubt accompanied the first commutation ticket ; to 
insurge attended the birth of the Progressive balderdash. Of 
late the old affix -ize, once fecund of such monsters as to funeral- 
ize, has come into favor again, and I note, among its other prod- 
ucts, to belgiumize, to vacationize, to picturize and to scenarioize. 
In a newspaper headline I even find to s o s, in the form of its 
gerund. 65 Many characteristic American verbs are compounds 
of common verbs and prepositions or adverbs, with new meanings 
imposed. Compare, for example, to give and to give out, to go 
back and to go back on, to beat and to beat it, to light and to 
light out, to butt and to butt in, to turn and to turn down, to 
show and to show up, to put and to put over, to wind and to 
wind up. Sometimes, however, the addition seems to be merely 
rhetorical, as in to start off, to finish up, to open up and to hurry 
up. To hurry up is so commonplace in America that everyone 
uses it and no one notices it, but it remains rare in England. 
Up seems to be essential to many of these latter-day verbs, e. g., 
to pony up, to doll up, to ball up; without it they are without 
significance. Nearly all of them are attended by derivative ad- 
jectives or nouns ; cut-up, show-down, kick-in, come-down, hang- 
out, start-off, run-in, balled-up, dolled-up, wind-up, bang-up, 
turn-down, jump-off. 

In many directions the same prodigal fancy shows itself for 
example, in the free interchange of parts of speech, in the bold 
inflection of words not inflected in sound English, and in the 
invention of wholly artificial words. The first phenomenon has 
already concerned us. Would an English literary critic of any 
pretensions employ such a locution as "all by her lonesome'"*. I 
have a doubt of it and yet I find that phrase in a serious book 
by the critic of the New Republic. 66 Would an English M. P. 
use "he has another think coming" in debate? Again I doubt 
it but even more anarchistic dedications of verbs and adjec- 
tives to substantival use are to be found in the Congressional 
Record every day. Jitney is an old American substantive lately 

es New York Evening Mail, Feb. 2, 1918, p. 1. 

es Horizons, by Francis Hackett; New York, 1918, p. 53. 


revived; a month after its revival it was also an adjective, and 
before long it may also be a verb and even an adverb. To lift up 
was turned tail first and made a substantive, and is now also an 
adjective and a verb. Joy-ride became a verb the day after it 
was born as a noun. And what of livest? An astounding inflec- 
tion, indeed but with quite sound American usage behind it. 
The Metropolitan Magazine, of which Col. Roosevelt is an editor, 
announces on its letter paper that it is "the livest magazine in 
America," and Poetry, the organ of the new poetry movement, 
prints at the head of its contents page the following encomium 
from the New York Tribune: "the livest art in America today is 
poetry, and the livest expression of that art is in this little Chi- 
cago monthly." 

Now and then the spirit of American shows a transient falter- 
ing, and its inventiveness is displaced by a banal extension of 
meaning, so that a single noun comes to signify discrete things. 
Thus laundry, meaning originally a place where linen is washed, 
has come to mean also the linen itself. So, again, gun has come 
to mean fire-arms of all sorts, and has entered into such com- 
pounds as gun-man and gun-play. And in the same way party 
has been borrowed from the terminology of the law and made to 
do colloquial duty as a synonym for person. But such evidences 
of poverty are rare and abnormal; the whole movement of the 
language is toward the multiplication of substantives. A new 
object gets a new name, and that new name enters into the com- 
mon vocabulary at once. Sundae and hokum are late examples ; 
their origin is dubious and disputed, but they met genuine needs 
and so they seem to be secure. A great many more such sub- 
stantives are deliberate inventions, for example, kodak, protec- 
tograph, conductorette, bevo, klaxon, vaseline, jap-a-lac, resinol, 
autocar, postum, crisco, electrolier, addressograph, alabastine, 
orangeade, pianola, victrola, dictagraph, kitchenette, crispette, 
cellarette, uneeda, triscuit and peptomint. Some of these indi- 
cate attempts at description: oleomargarine, phonograph and 
gasoline are older examples of that class. Others represent 
efforts to devise designations that will meet the conditions of 
advertising psychology and the trade-marks law, to wit, that they 


be (a) new, (&) easily remembered, and (c) not directly descrip- 
tive. Probably the most successful invention of this sort is 
kodak, which was devised by George Eastman, inventor of the 
portable camera so called. Kodak has so far won acceptance as 
a common noun that Eastman is often forced to assert his pro- 
prietary right to it. 67 Vaseline is in the same position. The 
annual crop of such inventions in the United States is enormous. 68 
The majority die, but a hearty few always survive. 

Of analogous character are artificial words of the scalawag and 
rambunctious class, the formation of which constantly goes on. 
Some of them are shortened compounds: grandificent (from 
grand and magnificent), sodalicious (from soda and delicious) 
and warphan ( age ) ( from war and orphan ( age ) ) , 69 Others are 
made up of common roots and grotesque affixes: swelldoodle, 
splendiferous and peacharino. Yet others are mere extravagant 
inventions: scallywampus, supergobsloptious and floozy. Most 
of these are devised by advertisement writers or college students, 
and belong properly to slang, but there is a steady movement of 
selected specimens into the common vocabulary. The words in 
-doodle hint at German influences, and those in -ino owe some- 
thing to Italian, or at least to popular burlesques of what is con- 
ceived to be Italian. 


Pronunciation " Language," said Sayce, in 1879, "does not 
consist of letters, but of sounds, and until this fact has been 
brought home to us our study of it will be little better than an 

a? It has even got into the Continental languages. In October, 1917, 
the Verband Deutscher Amateurphotographen-Vereine was moved to issue 
the following warning: "Es gibt kein deutschen Kodaks. Kodak, als Sam- 
melname fur photographische Erzeugnisse 1st falsch und bezeichnet nur die 
Fabrikate der Eastman-JSTodafc-Company. Wer von einem Kodak spricht 
und nur allgemein eine photographische Kamera meint, bedenkt nicht, dass 
er mit der Weiterverbreitung dieses Wortes die deutsche Industrie sugun- 
sten der amerikanisch-englischen schadigt." 

8 Cf. Word-Coinage and Modern Trade Names, by Louise Pound, Dialect 
Notes, vol. iv, pt. i, 1913, pp. 29-41. Most of these coinages produce de- 
rivatives, e. g., bevo-officer, to kodak, kodaker. 

6 This conscious shortening, of course, is to be distinguished from the 
shortening that goes on in words by gradual decay, as in Christmas (from 
Chritt't matt) and daity (from day't eye). 


exercise of memory. ' ' 70 The theory, at that time, was somewhat 
strange to English grammarians and etymologists, despite the 
investigations of A. J. Ellis and the massive lesson of Grimm's 
law; their labors were largely wasted upon deductions from the 
written word. But since then, chiefly under the influence of 
Continental philologists, and particularly of the Dane, J. 0. H. 
Jespersen, they have turned from orthographical futilities to the 
actual sounds of the tongue, and the latest and best grammar of 
it, that of Sweet, is frankly based upon the spoken English of 
educated Englishmen not, remember, of conscious purists, but 
of the general body of cultivated folk. Unluckily, this new 
method also has its disadvantages. The men of a given race and 
time usually write a good deal alike, or, at all events, attempt to 
write alike, but in their oral speech there are wide variations. 
"No two persons," says a leading contemporary authority upon 
English phonetics, 71 "pronounce exactly alike." Moreover, 
"even the best speaker commonly uses more than one style." 
The result is that it is extremely difficult to determine the pre- 
vailing pronunciation of a given combination of letters at any 
time and place. The persons whose speech is studied pronounce 
it with minute shades of difference, and admit other differences 
according as they are conversing naturally or endeavoring to 
exhibit their pronunciation. Worse, it is impossible to represent 
a great many of these shades in print. Sweet, trying to do it. 72 
found himself, in the end, with a preposterous alphabet of 125 
letters. Prince L.-L. Bonaparte more than doubled this number, 
and Ellis brought it to 390. 73 Other phonologists, English and 
Continental, have gone floundering into the same bog. The dic- 
tionary-makers, forced to a far greater economy of means, are 
brought into obscurity. The difficulties of the enterprise, in 
fact, are probably unsurmountable. It is, as White says, ' ' almost 
impossible for one person to express to another by signs the 

TO The Science of Language, vol. ii, p. 339. 

71 Daniel Jones: The Pronunciation of English, 2nd ed.; Cambridge, 1914, 
p. 1. Jones is lecturer in phonetics at University College, London. 

72 Vide his Handbook of Phonetics, p. xv, et seq. 

73 It is given in Ellis' Early English Pronunciation, p. 1293 et seq. and 
in Sayce's The Science of Language, vol. i, p. 353 et seq. 


sound of any word. " " Only the voice, ' ' he goes on, ' ' is capable 
of that ; for the moment a sign is used the question arises, What is 
the value of that sign? The sounds of words are the most deli- 
cate, fleeting and inapprehensible things in nature. . . . More- 
over, the question arises as to the capability to apprehend and 
distinguish sounds on the part of the person whose evidence is 
given. ' ' 74 Certain German orthoepists, despairing of the printed 
page, have turned to the phonograph, and there is a Deutsche 
Grammophon-Gesellschaft in Berlin which offers records of speci- 
men speeches in a great many languages and dialects, including 
English. The phonograph has also been put to successful use in 
language teaching by various American correspondence schools. 
In view of all this it would be hopeless to attempt to exhibit in 
print the numerous small differences between English and Ameri- 
can pronunciation, for many of them are extremely delicate and 
subtle, and only their aggregation makes them plain. According 
to a recent and very careful observer, 75 the most important of 
them do not lie in pronunciation at all, properly so called, but in 
intonation. In this direction, he says, one must look for the true 
characters "of the English accent." I incline to agree with 
White, 76 that the pitch of the English voice is somewhat higher 
than that of the American, and that it is thus more penetrating. 
The nasal twang which Englishmen observe in the vox Ameri- 
cana, though it has high overtones, is itself not high pitched, but 
rather low pitched, as all constrained and muffled tones are apt 
to be. The causes of that twang have long engaged phonologists, 
and in the main they agree that there is a physical basis for it 
that our generally dry climate and rapid changes of temperature 
produce an actual thickening of the membranes concerned in the 
production of sound. 77 We are, in brief, a somewhat snuffling 

74Every-Day English, p. 29. 

75 Robert J. Menner: The Pronunciation of English in America, Atlantic 
Monthly, March, 1915, p. 366. 

re Words and Their Uses, p. 58. 

77 The following passage from Kipling's American Notes, ch. i, will be re- 
called: "Oliver Wendell Holmes says that the Yankee schoolmarm, the 
cider and the salt codfish of the Eastern states are responsible for what 


people, and much more given to catarrhs and coryzas than the 
inhabitants of damp Britain. Perhaps this general impediment 
to free and easy utterance, subconsciously apprehended, is re- 
sponsible for the American tendency to pronounce the separate 
syllables of a word with much more care than an Englishman 
bestows upon them; the American, in giving extraordinary six 
distinct syllables instead of the Englishman's grudging four, 
may be seeking to make up for his natural disability. Marsh, in 
his ' ' Lectures on the English Language, ' ' 78 sought two other 
explanations of the fact. On the one hand, he argued that the 
Americans of his day read a great deal more than the English, 
and were thus much more influenced by the spelling of words, 
and on the other hand he pointed out that ' ' our flora shows that 
the climate of even our Northern States belongs ... to a more 
Southern type than that of England," and that "in Southern 
latitudes . . . articulation is generally much more distinct than 
in Northern regions." In support of the latter proposition he 
cited the pronunciation of Spanish, Italian and Turkish, as com- 
pared with that of English, Danish and German rather unfor- 
tunate examples, for the pronunciation of German is at least as 
clear as that of Italian. Swedish would have supported his case 
far better: the Swedes debase their vowels and slide over their 
consonants even more markedly than the English. Marsh be- 
lieved that there was a tendency among Southern peoples to 
throw the accent back, and that this helped to ' ' bring out all the 
syllables." One finds a certain support for this notion in vari- 
ous American peculiarities of stress. Advertisement offers an 
example. The prevailing American pronunciation, despite in- 
cessant pedagogical counterblasts, puts the accent on the penult, 
whereas the English pronunciation stresses the second syllable. 
Paresis illustrates the same tendency. The English accent the 
first syllable, but, as Krapp says, American usage clings to the 

he calls a nasal accent. I know better. They stole books from across 
the water without paying for 'em, and the snort of delight was fixed in 
their nostrils for ever by a just Providence. That is why they talk a 
foreign tongue today." 

78 Lecture xxx. The English Language in America. 


accent on the second syllable. 79 There are, again, pianist, pri- 
marily and telegrapher. The English accent the first syllable of 
each; we commonly accent the second. In temporarily they also 
accent the first; we accent the third. Various other examples 
might be cited. But when one had marshalled them their signifi- 
cance would be at once set at naught by four very familiar 
words, mamma, papa, inquiry and ally. Americans almost inva- 
riably accent each on the first syllable; Englishmen stress the 
second. For months, during 1918, the publishers of the Stand- 
ard Dictionary, advertising that work in the street-cars, explained 
that ally should be accented on the second syllable, and pointed 
out that owners of their dictionary were safeguarded against the 
vulgarism of accenting it on the first. Nevertheless, this free and 
highly public instruction did not suffice to exterminate al'ly. I 
made note of the pronunciations overheard, with the word con- 
stantly on all lips. But one man of my acquaintance regularly 
accented the second syllable, and he was an eminent scholar, 
professionally devoted to the study of language. 

Thus it is unsafe, here as elsewhere, to generalize too f acilely, 
and particularly unsafe to exhibit causes with too much assur- 
ance. "Man frage nicht warum," says Philipp Karl Buttmann. 
' ' Der Sprachgebrauch lasst sich nur beobachten. ' ' 80 But the 
greater distinctness of American utterance, whatever its genesis 
and machinery, is palpable enough in many familiar situations. 
"The typical American accent," says Vizetelly, "is often harsh 
and unmusical, but it sounds all of the letters to be sounded, and 
slurs, but does not distort, the rest. ' ' 81 An American, for ex- 
ample, almost always sounds the first I in fulfill; an Englishman 
makes the first syllable foo. An American sounds every syllable 
in extraordinary, literary, military, secretary and the other 
words of the -ary -group ; an Englishman never pronounces the a 
of the penultimate syllable. Kindness, with the d silent, would 
attract notice in the United States; in England, according to 

78 Modern English, p. 166. Cf. A Desk-Book of 25,000 Words Frequently 
Mispronounced, by Frank H. Vizetelly, p. 652. 

soLexilogus, 2nd ed.; Berlin, 1860, p. 239. An English translation was 
published in London in 1846. 

si A Desk-Book of 25,000 Words Frequently Mispronounced, p. xvi. 


Jones, 82 the d is "very commonly, if not usually" omitted. 
Often, in America, commonly retains a full t; in England it is 
actually and officially off en. Let an American and an English- 
man pronounce program (me) . Though the Englishman retains 
the long form of the last syllable in writing, he reduces it in 
speaking to a thick triple consonant, grm; the American enunci- 
ates it clearly, rhyming it with damn. Or try the two with any 
word ending in -g, say sporting or ripping. Or with any word 
having r before a consonant, say card, harbor, lord or preferred. 
"The majority of Englishmen," says Menner, "certainly do not 
pronounce the r . . . ; just as certainly the majority of educated 
Americans pronounce it distinctly. ' ' 83 Henry James, visiting 
the United States after many years of residence in England, was 
much harassed by this persistent r-sound, which seemed to him to 
resemble ' ' a sort of morose grinding of the back teeth. " ** So 
sensitive to it did he become that he began to hear where it was 
actually non-existent, save as an occasional barbarism, for exam- 
ple, in Cuba-r, vanilla-r and Calif ornia-r. He put the blame for 
it, and for various other departures from the strict canon of con- 
temporary English, upon "the American common school, the 
American newspaper, and the American Dutchman and Dago." 
Unluckily for his case, the full voicing of the r came into Ameri- 
can long before the appearance of any of these influences. The 
early colonists, in fact, brought it with them from England, and 
it still prevailed there in Dr. Johnson's day, for he protested 
publicly against the "rough snarling sound" and led the move- 
ment which finally resulted in its extinction. 85 Today, extinct, 
it is mourned by English purists, and the Poet Laureate de- 
nounces the clergy of the Established Church for saying "the 
sawed of the Laud" instead of "the sword of the Lord." 88 

But even in the matter of elided' consonants American is not 
always the conservator. We cling to the r, we preserve the final 

82 The Pronunciation of English, p. 17. 

83 The Pronunciation of English in America, op. cit., p. 362. 

84 The Question of Our Speech, p. 29 et seq. 

ss Cf. The Cambridge History of English Literature, vol. xiv, p. 487. 
86 Robert Bridges: A Tract on the Present State of English Pronuncia- 
tion; Oxford, 1913. 


g, we give nephew a clear /-sound instead of the clouded English 
v-sound, and we boldly nationalize trait and pronounce its final t, 
but we drop the second p from pumpkin and change the m to n, 
we change the ph(=f) -sound to plain p in diphtheria, diph- 
thong and naphtha, 87 we relieve rind of its final d, and, in the 
complete sentence, we slaughter consonants by assimilation. I 
have heard Englishmen say brand-new, but on American lips it 
is almost invariably bran-new. So nearly universal is this nasal- 
ization in the United States that certain American lexicographers 
have sought to found the term upon bran and not upon brand. 
Here the national speech is powerfully influenced by Southern 
dialectical variations, which in turn probably derive partly from 
French example and partly from the linguistic limitations of the 
negro. The latter, even after two hundred years, has great diffi- 
culties with our consonants, and often drops them. A familiar 
anecdote well illustrates his speech habit. On a train stopping 
at a small station in Georgia a darkey threw up a window and 
yelled "Wah ee?" The reply from a black on the platform, was 
"Wah oo?" A Northerner aboard the train, puzzled by this 
inarticulate dialogue, sought light from a Southern passenger, 
who promptly translated the first question as " Where is he?" 
and the second as "Where is who?" A recent viewer with 
alarm 88 argues that this conspiracy against the consonants is 
spreading, and that English printed words no longer represent 
the actual sounds of the American language. ' ' Like the French, ' ' 
he says, "we have a marked liaison the borrowing of a letter 
from the preceding word. We invite one another to 'c'meer' 
(=come here) . . . 'Hoo-zat?' (=who is that?) has as good a 
liaison as the French vois avez." This critic believes that Ameri- 
can tends to abandon t for d, as in Sadd'y (= Saturday) and 
siddup (=sit up), and to get rid of h, as in "ware-zee?" 
(= where is he?). But here we invade the vulgar speech, which 
belongs to the next chapter. 

87 An interesting discussion of this peculiarity is in Some Variant Pro- 
nunciations in the New South, by William A. Read, Dialect Notes, vol. iii, 
pt. vii, 1911, p. 504 et seq. 

ss Hugh Mearns : Our Own, Our Native Speech, McClure's Magazine, Oct., 


Among the vowels the most salient difference between English 
and American pronunciation, of course, is marked off by the flat 
American a. This flat a, as we have seen, has been under attack 
at home for nearly a century. The New Englanders, very sen- 
sitive to English example, substitute a broad a that is even 
broader than the English, and an a, of the same sort survives in 
the South in a few words, e. g., master, tomato and tassel, but 
everywhere else in the country the flat a prevails. Fashion and 
the example of the stage oppose it, 89 and it is under the ban of 
an active wing of schoolmasters, but it will not down. To the 
average American, indeed, the broad a is a banner of affectation, 
and he associates it unpleasantly with spats, Harvard, male tea- 
drinking, wrist watches and all the other objects of his social 
suspicion. He gets the flat sound, not only into such words as 
last, calf, dance and pastor, but even into piano and drama. 
Drama is sometimes drayma west of Connecticut, but almost 
never drahma or drawma. Tomato with the a of bat, may some- 
times borrow the a of plate, but tomahto is confined to New Eng- 
land and the South. Hurrah, in American, has also borrowed 
the a of plate; one hears hurray much oftener than hurraw. 
Even amen frequently shows that a, though not when sung. 
Curiously enough, it is displaced in patent by the true flat a. 
The English rhyme the first syllable of the word with rate; in 
America it always rhymes with rat. 

The broad a is not only almost extinct outside of New England ; 
it begins to show signs of decay even there. At all events, it has 
gradually disappeared from many words, and is measurably less 
sonorous in those in which it survives than it used to be. A 
century ago it appeared, not only in dance, aunt, glass, past, etc., 
but also in Daniel, imagine, rational and travel. 90 And in 1857 
Oliver Wendell Holmes reported it in matter, handsome, cater- 
pillar, apple and satisfaction. It has been displaced in virtually 
all of these, even in the most remote reaches of the back country, 

8 The American actor imitates, not only English pronunciation in all its 
details, but also English dress and bearing. His struggles with such 
words as extraordinary are often very amusing. 

so Cf. Duncan Mackintosh : Essai RaissonS dur la Grammaire et la Pro- 
nonciation Anglais; Boston, 1797, 


by the national flat a. Grandgent 91 says that the broad a is now 
restricted in New England to the following situations : 

1. when followed by s or ns, as in last and dance. 

2. when followed by r preceding another consonant, as in cart. 

3. when followed by lm, as in calm. 

4. when followed by f, s or th, as in laugh, pass and path. 

The w-sound also shows certain differences between English 
and American usage. The English reduce the last syllable of 
figure to ger; the educated American preserves the it-sound as 
in nature. The English make the first syllable of courteous 
rhyme with fort; the American standard rhymes it with hurt. 
The English give an 00-sound to the u of brusque; in America 
the word commonly rhymes with tusk. A w-sound, as everyone 
knows, gets into the American pronunciation of clerk, by analogy 
with insert; the English cling to a broad a-sound, by analogy 
with hearth. Even the latter, in the United States, is often pro- 
nounced to rhyme with dearth. The American, in general, is 
much less careful than the Englishman to preserve the shadowy 
2/-sound before u in words of the duke-class. He retains it in 
few, but surely not in new. Nor in duke, Hue, stew, due, duty 
and true. Nor even in Tuesday. Purists often attack the sim- 
ple oo-sound. In 1912, for example, the Department of Educa- 
tion of New York City warned all the municipal high-school 
teachers to combat it. 92 But it is doubtful that one pupil in a 
hundred was thereby induced to insert the y in induced. Finally 
there is lieutenant. The Englishman pronounces the first sylla- 
ble left; the American invariably makes it loot. White says that 
the prevailing American pronunciation is relatively recent. "I 
never heard it, ' ' he reports, ' ' in my boyhood. ' ' 93 He was born 
in New York in 1821. 

The i-sound presents several curious differences. The Eng- 
lish make it long in all words of the hostile-class ; in America it 
is commonly short, even in puerile. The English also lengthen 
it in sliver; in America the word usually rhymes with liver. The 

i Fashion and the Broad A, Nation, Jan 7, 1915. 
02 High School Circular No. 17, June 19, 1912. 
3 Every-Day English, p. 243. 


short i, in England, is almost universally substituted for the e 
in pretty, and this pronunciation is also inculcated in most Amer- 
ican schools, but I often hear an unmistakable e-sound in the 
United States, making the first syllable rhyme with bet. Con- 
trariwise, most Americans put the short i into been, making it 
rhyme with sin. In England it shows a long e-sound, as in seen. 
A recent poem by an English poet makes the word rhyme with 
submarine, queen and unseen. 9 * The 0-sound, in American, 
tends to convert itself into an aw-sound. Cog still retains a 
pure o, but one seldom hears it in log or dog. Henry James 
denounces this "flatly-drawling group" in "The Question of 
Our Speech, ' ' 95 and cites gawd, dawg, sawft, lawft, gawne, 
lawst and frawst as horrible examples. But the English them- 
selves are not guiltless of the same fault. Many of the accusa- 
tions that James levels at American, in truth, are echoed by Rob- 
ert Bridges in "A Tract on the Present State of English Pro- 
nunciation." Both spend themselves upon opposing what, at 
bottom, are probably natural and inevitable movements for 
example, the gradual decay of all the vowels to one of neutral 
color, represented by the e of danger, the u of suggest, the sec- 
ond o of common and the a of prevalent. This decay shows 
itself in many languages. In both English and High German, 
during their middle periods, all the terminal vowels degenerated 
to e now sunk to the aforesaid neutral vowel in many German 
words, and expunged from English altogether. The same sound 
is encountered in languages so widely differing otherwise as 
Arabic, French and Swedish. "Its existence," says Sayce, "is 
a sign of age and decay; meaning has become more important 
than outward form, and the educated intelligence no longer 
demands a clear pronunciation in order to understand what is 
said." 96 

All these differences between English and American pronun- 
ciation, separately considered, seem slight, but in the aggregate 
they are sufficient to place serious impediments between mutual 

* Open Boats, by Alfred Noyes, New York, 1917, pp. 89-91. 

5 P. 30. 

96 The Science of Language, vol. i, p. 259. 


comprehension. Let an Englishman and an American (not of 
New England) speak a quite ordinary sentence, "My aunt can't 
answer for my dancing the lancers even passably," and at once 
the gap separating the two pronunciations will be manifest. 
Here only the a is involved. Add a dozen everyday words 
military, schedule, trait, hostile, been, lieutenant, patent, nephew, 
secretary, advertisement, and so on and the strangeness of one 
to the other is augmented. "Every Englishman visiting the 
States for the first time," said an English dramatist some time 
ago, "has a difficulty in making himself understood. He often 
has to repeat a remark or a request two or three times to make 
his meaning clear, especially on railroads, in hotels and at bars. 
The American visiting England for the first time has the same 
trouble." 97 Despite the fact that American actors imitate Eng- 
lish pronunciation to the best of their skill, this visiting Eng- 
lishman asserted that the average American audience is inca- 
pable of understanding a genuinely English company, at least 
"when the speeches are rattled off in conversational style." 
When he presented one of his own plays with an English com- 
pany, he said, many American acquaintances, after witnessing 
the performance, asked him to lend them the manuscript, "that 
they might visit it again with some understanding of the dia- 
logue." 98 

7 B. MacDonald Hastings, New York Tribune, Jan. 19, 1913. 

98 Various minor differences between English and American pronunciation, 
not noted here, are discussed in British and American Pronunciation, by 
Louise Pound, School Review, vol. xxiii, no. 6, June, 1915. 


The Common Speech 


Grammarians and Their Ways So far, in the main, the lan- 
guage examined has been of a relatively pretentious and self- 
conscious variety the speech, if not always of formal discourse, 
then at least of literate men. Most of the examples of its vocab- 
ulary and idiom, in fact, have been drawn from written docu- 
ments or from written reports of more or less careful utterances, 
for example, the speeches of members of Congress and of other 
public men. The whole of Thornton's excellent material is of 
this character. In his dictionary there is scarcely a locution 
that is not supported by printed examples. 

It must be obvious that such materials, however lavishly set 
forth, cannot exhibit the methods and tendencies of a living 
speech with anything approaching completeness, nor even with 
accuracy. What men put into writing and what they say when 
they take sober thought are very far from what they utter in 
everyday conversation. All of us, no matter how careful our 
speech habits, loosen the belt a bit, so to speak, when we speak 
familiarly to our fellows, and pay a good deal less heed to 
precedents and proprieties, perhaps, than we ought to. It was 
a sure instinct that made Ibsen put "bad grammar" into the 
mouth of Nora Helmar in "A Doll's House." She is a- gen- 
eral's daughter and the wife of a professor, but even professor's 
wives are not above occasional bogglings of the cases of pro- 
nouns and the conjugations of verbs. The professors them- 
selves, in truth, must have the same habit, for sometimes they 
show plain signs of it in print. More than once, plowing through 
profound and interminable treatises of grammar and syntax in 



preparation for the present work, I have encountered the cheer- 
ing spectacle of one grammarian exposing, with contagious joy, 
the grammatical lapses of some other grammarian. And nine 
times out of ten, a few pages further on, I have found the en- 
chanted purist erring himself. 1 The most funereal of the sci- 
ences is saved from utter horror by such displays of human 
malice and fallibility. Speech itself, indeed, would become al- 
most impossible if the grammarians could follow their own rules 
unfailingly, and were always right. 

But here we are among the learned; and their sins, when 
detected and exposed, are at least punished by conscience. What 
are of more importance, to those interested in language as a 
living thing, are the offendings of the millions who are not 
conscious of any wrong. It is among these millions, ignorant 
of regulation and eager only to express their ideas clearly and 
forcefully, that language undergoes its great changes and con- 
stantly renews its vitality. These are the genuine makers of 
grammar, marching miles ahead of the formal grammarians. 
Like the Emperor Sigismund, each man among them may well 
say: "Ego sum . . . super grammaticam." It is competent for 
any individual to offer his -contribution his new word, his bet- 
ter idiom, his novel figure of speech, his short cut in grammar 
or syntax and it is by the general vote of the whole body, not 
by the verdict of a small school, that the fate of the innova- 
tion is decided. As Brander Matthews says, there is not even 
representative government in the matter; the posse comitatus 
decides directly, and despite the sternest protest, finally. The 
ignorant, the rebellious and the daring come forward with their 
brilliant barbarisms; the learned and conservative bring up 
their objections. "And when both sides have been heard, there 
is a show of hands; and by this the irrevocable decision of the 
community itself is rendered. ' ' 2 Thus it was that the Romance 
languages were fashioned out of the wreck of Latin, the vast in- 

1 Sweet, perhaps the abbot of the order, makes almost indecent haste 
to sin. See the second paragraph on the very first page of vol. i of his New 
English Grammar. 

2 Tale Review, April, 1918, p. 548. 


fluence of the literate minority to the contrary notwithstanding. 
Thus it was, too, that English lost its case inflections and many 
of its old conjugations, and that our yes came to be substituted 
for the gea-se (=so be it) of an earlier day, and that we got rid 
of whom after man in the man I saw, and that our stark pro- 
noun -of the first person was precipitated from the German ich. 
And thus it is that, in our own day, the language faces forces 
in America which, not content with overhauling and greatly 
enriching its materials, now threaten to work changes in its very 

Where these tendencies run strongest, of course, is on the 
plane of the vulgar spoken language. Among all classes the 
everyday speech departs very far from orthodox English, and 
even very far from any recognizable spoken English, but among 
those lower classes which make up the great body of the people 
it gets so far from orthodox English that it gives promise, soon 
or late, of throwing off its old bonds altogether, or, at any rate, 
all save the loosest of them. Behind it is the gigantic impulse ._- 
that I have described in earlier chapters: the impulse of an 
egoistic and iconoclastic people, facing a new order of life in 
highly self-conscious freedom, to break a relatively stable lan- 
guage, long since emerged from its period of growth, to their 
novel and multitudinous needs, and, above all, to their experi- 
mental and impatient spirit. This impulse, it must be plain, 
would war fiercely upon any attempt at formal regulation, how- 
ever prudent and elastic ; it is often rebellious for the mere sake 
of rebellion. But what it comes into conflict with, in America, 
is nothing so politic, and hence nothing so likely to keep the 
brakes upon it. What it actually encounters here is a formal- 
ism that is artificial, illogical and almost unintelligible a 
formalism borrowed from English grammarians, and by them 
brought into English, against all fact and reason, from the Latin. 
' ' In most of our grammars, perhaps in all of those issued earlier 
than the opening of the twentieth century," says Matthews, "we 
find linguistic laws laid down which are in blank contradiction* 
with the genius of the language. " 3 In brief, the American 

s Yale Review, op. cit., p. 560. 


school-boy, hauled before a pedagogue to be instructed in the 
structure and organization of the tongue he speaks, is actually 
instructed in the structure and organization of a tongue that he 
never hears at all, and seldom reads, and that, in more than one 
of the characters thus set before him, does not even exist. 

The effects of this are two-fold. On the one hand he conceives 
an antipathy to a subject so lacking in intelligibility and utility. 
As one teacher puts it, ' ' pupils tire of it ; often they see noth- 
ing in it, because there is nothing in it. " 4 And on the other 
hand, the school-boy goes entirely without sympathetic guidance 
in the living language that he actually speaks, in and out of the 
classroom, and that he will probably speak all the rest of his 
life. All he hears in relation to it is a series of sneers and pro- 
hibitions, most of them grounded, not upon principles deduced 
from its own nature, but upon its divergences from the theoret- 
ical language that he is so unsuccessfully taught. The net result 
is that all the instruction he receives passes for naught. It is 
not sufficient to make him a master of orthodox English and it 
is not sufficient to rid him of the speech-habits of his home and 
daily life. Thus he is thrown back upon these speech-habits 
without any helpful restraint or guidance, and they make him 
a willing ally of the radical and often extravagant tendencies 
which show themselves in the vulgar tongue. In other words, 
the very effort to teach him an excessively tight and formal 
English promotes his use of a loose and rebellious English. And 
so the grammarians, with the traditional fatuity of their order, 
labor for the destruction of the grammar they defend, and for 
the decay of all those refinements of speech that go with it. 

The folly of this system, of course, has not failed to attract 
the attention of the more intelligent teachers, nor have they 
failed to observe the causes of its failure. "Much of the fruit- 
lessness of the study of English grammar," says Wilcox, 5 "and 

4 The Difficulties Created by Grammarians Are to be Ignored, by W. H. 
Wilcox, Atlantic Educational Journal, Nov., 1912, p. 8. The title of this 
article is quoted from ministerial instructions of 1909 to the teachers of 
French lycees. 

s Op cit. p. 7. Mr. Wilcox is an instructor in the Maryland State Normal 


many of the obstacles encountered in its study are due to 'the 
difficulties created by the grammarians.' These difficulties arise 
chiefly from three sources excessive classification, multiplica- 
tion of terms for a single conception, and the attempt to treat 
the English language as if it were highly inflected." So long 
ago as the 60 's Richard Grant White began an onslaught upon 
all such punditic stupidities. He saw clearly that "the attempt 
to treat English as if it were highly inflected" was making its 
intelligent study almost impossible, and proposed boldly that 
all English grammar-books be burned. 6 Of late his ideas have 
begun to gain a certain acceptance, and as the literature of de- 
nunciation has grown 7 the grammarians have been constrained 
to overhaul their texts. When I was a school-boy, during the 
penultimate decade of the last century, the chief American gram- 
mar was "A Practical Grammar of the English Language," by 
Thomas W. Harvey. 8 This formidable work was almost purely 
synthetical : it began with a long series of definitions, wholly un- 
intelligible to a child, and proceeded into a maddening maze of 
pedagogical distinctions, puzzling even to an adult. The latter- 
day grammars, at least those for the elementary schools, are far 
more analytical and logical. For example, there is ' ' Longmans ' 
Briefer Grammar," by George J. Smith, 9 a text now in very 
wide use. This book starts off, not with page after page of 
abstractions, but with a well-devised examination of the complete 
sentence, and the characters and relations of the parts of speech 
are very simply and clearly developed. But before the end the 
author begins to succumb to precedent, and on page 114 I find 

6 See especially chapters ix and x of Words and Their Uses and chapters 
xvii, xviii and xix of Every-Day English; also the preface to the latter, 
p. xi et seq. The study of other languages has been made difficult by the 
same attempt to force the characters of Greek and Latin grammar upon 
them. One finds a protest against the process, for example, in E. H. 
Palmer's Grammar of Hindustani, Persian and Arabic; London, 1906. In 
all ages, indeed, grammarians appear to have been fatuous. The learned will 
remember Aristophanes' ridicule of them in The Clouds, 660-690. 

? The case is well summarized in Simpler English Grammar, by Patterson 
Wardlaw, Bull, of the University of 8. Carolina, No. 38, pt. iii, July, 1914. 

s Cincinnati, 1868; rev. ed., 1878. 

New York, 1903; rev. ed., 1915. 


paragraph after paragraph of such dull, flyblown pedantry as 

Some Intransitive Verbs are used to link the Subject and some Ad- 
jective or Noun. These Verbs are called Copulative Verbs, and the 
Adjective or Noun is called the Attribute. 

The Attribute always describes or denotes the person or thing de- 
noted by the Subject. 

Verbals are words that are derived from Verbs and express action 
or being without asserting it. Infinitives and Participles are Verbals. 

And so on. Smith, in his preface, says that his book is in- 
tended, "not so much to 'cover' the subject of grammar as to 
teach it, ' ' and calls attention to the fact, somewhat proudly, that 
he has omitted "the rather hard subject of gerunds," all men- 
tion of conjunctive adverbs, and even the conjugation of verbs. 
Nevertheless, he immerses himself in the mythical objective case 
of nouns on page 108, and does not emerge until the end. 10 
"The New-Webster-Cooley Course in English," " another popu- 
lar text, carries reform a step further. The subject of case is 
approached through the personal pronouns, where it retains its 
only surviving intelligibility, and the more lucid object form 
is used in place of objective case. Moreover, the pupil is plainly 
informed, later on, that "a noun has in reality but two case- 
forms : a possessive and a common case- form. ' ' This is the best 
concession to the facts yet made by a text-book grammarian. 
But no one familiar with the habits of the pedagogical mind need 
be told that its interior pull is against even such mild and obvi- 
ous reforms. 'Defenders of the old order are by no means silent ; 
a fear seems to prevail that grammar, robbed of its imbecile 
classifications, may collapse entirely. Wilcox records how the 
Council of English Teachers of New Jersey, but a few years ago, 
spoke out boldly for the recognition of no less than five cases 

10 Even Sweet, though he bases his New English Grammar upon the spoken 
language and thus sets the purists at defiance, quickly succumbs to the 
labelling mania. Thus his classification of tenses includes such fabulous 
monsters as these: continuous, recurrent, neutral, definite, indefinite, secon- 
dary, incomplete, inchoate, short and long. 

11 By W. F. Webster and Alice Woodworth Cooley ; Boston, 1903 ; rev. eds., 
1905 and 1909. The authors are Minneapolis teachers. 


in English. "Why five?" asks Wilcox. "Why not eight, or 
ten, or even thirteen? Undoubtedly because there are five cases 
in Latin. " 12 Most of the current efforts at improvement, in 
fact, tend toward a mere revision and multiplication of classifi- 
cations; the pedant is eternally convinced that pigeon-holing 
and relabelling are contributions to knowledge. A curious proof 
in point is offered by a pamphlet entitled "Reorganization of 
English in Secondary Schools," compiled by James Fleming 
Hosic and issued by the National Bureau of Education. 13 The 
aim of this pamphlet is to rid the teaching of English, including 
grammar, of its accumulated formalism and ineffectiveness to 
make it genuine instruction instead of a pedantic and meaning- 
less routine. And how is this revolutionary aim set forth ? By 
a meticulous and merciless splitting of hairs, a gigantic manu- 
facture of classifications and sub-classifications, a colossal dis- 
play of professorial bombast and flatulence. 

I could cite many other examples. Perhaps, after all, the dis- 
ease is incurable. What such laborious stupidity shows at bot- 
tom is simply this : that the sort of man who is willing to devote 
his life to teaching grammar to children, or to training school- 
marms to do it, is not often the sort of man who is intelligent 
enough to do it competently. In particular, he is not often in- 
telligent enough to grapple with the fluent and ever-amazing- per- 
mutations of a living and rebellious speech. The only way he 
can grapple with it at all is by first reducing it to a fixed and for- 
mal organization in brief, by first killing it and embalming it. 
The difference in the resultant proceedings is not unlike that be- 
tween a gross dissection and a surgical operation. The difficul- 
ties of the former are quickly mastered by any student of normal 
sense, but even the most casual of laparotomies calls for a man of 
special skill and address. Thus the elementary study of the na- 
tional language, at least in America, is almost monopolized by 
dullards. Children are taught it by men and women who ob- 
serve it inaccurately and expound it ignorantly. In most other 
fields the pedagogue meets a certain corrective competition and 

12 Op. cit. p. 8. 

is Bulletin No. 2; Washington, 1917. 


criticism. The teacher of any branch of applied mathematics, 
fbr example, has practical engineers at his elbow and they quickly 
expose and denounce his defects; the college teacher of chem- 
istry, however limited his equipment, at least has the aid of text- 
books written by actual chemists. But English, even in its most 
formal shapes, is chiefly taught by those who cannot write it 
decently and who get no aid from those who can. One wades 
through treatise after treatise on English style by pedagogues 
whose own style is atrocious. A Huxley or a Stevenson might 
have written one of high merit and utility but Huxley and 
Stevenson had other fish to fry, and so the business was left 
to Prof. Balderdash. Consider the standard texts on prosody 
vast piles of meaningless words hollow babble about spondees, 
iambics, trochees and so on idiotic borrowings from dead lan- 
guages. Two poets, Poe and Lanier, blew blasts of fresh air 
through that fog, but they had no successors, and it has appar- 
ently closed in again. In the department of prose it lies wholly 
unbroken ; no first-rate writer of English prose has ever written 
a text-book upon the art of writing it. 


Spoken American As It Is But here I wander afield. The 
art of prose has little to do with the stiff and pedantic English 
taught in grammar-schools and a great deal less to do with the 
loose and lively English spoken by the average American in his 
daily traffic. The thing of importance is that the two differ 
from each other even more than they differ from the English of 
a Huxley or a Stevenson. The school-marm, directed by gram- 
marians, labors heroically, but all her effort goes for naught. 
The young American, like the youngster of any other race, in- 
clines irresistibly toward the dialect that he hears at home, 
and that dialect, with its piquant neologisms, its high disdain 
of precedent, its complete lack of self-consciousness, is almost 
the antithesis of the hard and stiff speech that is expounded out 
of books. It derives its principles, not from the subtle logic 


of learned and stupid men, but from the rough-and-ready logic 
of every day. It has a vocabulary of its own, a syntax of its 
own, even a grammar of its own. Its verbs are conjugated in 
a way that defies all the injunctions of the grammar books; it 
has its contumacious rules of tense, number and case; it has 
boldly re-established the double negative, once sound in Eng- 
lish ; it admits double comparatives, confusions in person, clipped 
infinitives ; it lays' hands on the vowels, changing them to fit its 
obscure but powerful spirit ; it disdains all the finer distinctions 
between the parts of speech. 

This highly virile and defiant dialect, and not the fossilized 
English of the school-marm and her books, is the speech of the 
Middle American of Joseph Jacobs' composite picture the mill- 
hand in a small city of Indiana, with his five years of common 
schooling behind him, his diligent reading of newspapers, and 
his proud membership in the Order of Foresters and the Knights 
of the Maccabees. 14 Go into any part of the country, North, 
East, South or West, and you will find multitudes of his broth- 
ers car conductors in Philadelphia, immigrants of the second 
generation in the East Side of New York, iron-workers in the 
Pittsburgh region, corner grocers in St. Louis, holders of petty 
political jobs in Atlanta and New Orleans, small farmers in 
Kansas or Kentucky, house carpenters in Ohio, tinners and 
plumbers in Chicago, genuine Americans all, hot for the home 
team, marchers in parades, readers of the yellow newspapers, 
fathers of families, sheep on election day, undistinguished norms 
of the Homo Americanus. Such typical Americans, after a 
fashion, know English. They can read it all save the "hard" 
words, i. e., all save about 90 per cent of the words of Greek and 
Latin origin. 15 They can understand perhaps two-thirds of it 
as it comes from the lips of a political orator or clergyman. 
They have a feeling that it is, in some recondite sense, superior 
to the common speech of their kind. They recognize a fluent 
command of it as the salient mark of a "smart" and "edu- 

i* The Middle American, American Magazine, March, 1907. 
is Cf. White: Every-Day English, p. 367 et seq. 


cated" man, one with "the gift of gab." But they themselves 
never speak it or try to speak it, nor do they look with approba- 
tion on efforts in that direction by their fellows. 

In no other way, indeed, is the failure of popular education 
made more vividly manifest. Despite a gigantic effort to en- 
force certain speech habits, universally in operation from end 
to end of the country, the masses of the people turn almost 
unanimously to very different speech habits, nowhere advocated 
and seldom so much as even accurately observed. The literary 
critic, Francis Hackett, somewhere speaks of "the enormous gap 
between the literate and unliterate American." He is appar- 
ently the first to call attention to it. It is the national assump- 
tion that no such gap exists that all Americans, at least if they 
be white, are so outfitted with sagacity in the public schools that 
they are competent to consider any public question intelligently 
and to follow its discussion with understanding. But the truth 
is, of course, that the public school accomplishes no such magic. 
The inferior man, in America as elsewhere, remains an inferior 
man despite the hard effort made to improve him, and his 
thoughts seldom if ever rise above the most elemental concerns. 
What lies above not only does not interest him; it actually ex- 
cites his derision, and he has coined a unique word, high-brow, 
to express his view of it. Especially in speech is he suspicious 
of superior pretension. The school-boy of the lower orders would 
bring down ridicule upon himself, and perhaps criticism still 
more devastating, if he essayed to speak what his teachers con- 
ceive to be correct English, or even correct American, outside 
the school-room. On the one hand his companions would laugh 
at him as a prig, and on the other hand his parents would prob- 
ably cane him as an impertinent critic of their own speech. 
Once he has made his farewell to the school-marm, all her dili- 
gence in this department goes for nothing. 16 The boys with 
whom he plays baseball speak a tongue that is not the one taught 
in school, and so do the youths with whom he will begin learn- 
ing a trade tomorrow, and the girl he will marry later on, and 
the saloon-keepers, star pitchers, vaudeville comedians, business 

i Cf. Sweet : New English Grammar, vol. i, p. 5. 


sharpers and political mountebanks he will look up to and try 
to imitate all the rest of his life. 

So far as I can discover, there has been but one attempt by 
a competent authority to determine the special characters of 
this general tongue of the mobile vulgus. That authority is Dr. 
W. W. Charters, now head of the School of Education at the 
University of Illinois. In 1914 Dr. Charters was dean of the 
faculty of education and professor of the theory of teaching in 
the University of Missouri, and one of the problems he was 
engaged upon was that of the teaching of grammar. In the 
course of this study he encountered the theory that such instruc- 
tion should be confined to the rules habitually violated that the 
one aim of teaching grammar was to correct the speech of the 
pupils, and that it was useless to harass them with principles 
which they already instinctively observed. Apparently inclin- 
ing to this somewhat dubious notion, Dr. Charters applied to 
the School Board of Kansas City for permission to undertake 
an examination of the language actually used by the children 
in the elementary schools of that city, and this permission was 
granted. The materials thereupon gathered were of two classes. 
First, the teachers of grades III to VII inclusive in all the 
Kansas City public-schools were instructed to turn over to Dr. 
Charters all the written work of their pupils, ' ' ordinarily done in 
the regular order of school work" during a period of four weeks. 
Secondly, the teachers of grades II to VII inclusive were in- 
structed to make note of "all oral errors in grammar made in 
the school-room and around the school-building" during the 
five school-days of one week, by children of any age, and to dis- 
patch these notes to Dr. Charters also. The result was an ac- 
cumulation of material so huge that it was unworkable with the 
means at hand, and so the investigator and his assistants reduced 
it. Of the oral reports, two studies were made, the first of 
those from grades III and VII and the second of those from 
grades VI and VII. Of the written reports, only those from 
grades VI and VII of twelve typical schools were examined. 

The ages thus covered ran from nine or ten to fourteen or 
fifteen, and perhaps five-sixths of the material studied came from 


children above twelve. Its examination threw a brilliant light 
upon the speech actually employed by children near the end 
of their schooling in a typical American city, and, per corollary, 
upon the speech employed by their parents and other older asso- 
ciates. If anything, the grammatical and syntactical habits 
revealed were a bit less loose than those of the authentic Volks- 
sprache, for practically all of the written evidence was gathered 
under conditions which naturally caused the writers to try to 
write what they conceived to be correct English, and even the 
oral evidence was conditioned by the admonitory presence of the 
teachers. Moreover, it must be obvious that a child of the lower 
classes, during the period of its actual study of grammar, prob- 
ably speaks better English than at any time before or afterward, 
for it is only then that any positive pressure is exerted upon it 
to that end. But even so, the departures from standard usage 
that were unearthed were numerous and striking, and their 
tendency to accumulate in definite groups showed plainly the 
working of general laws. 17 

Thus, no less than 57 per cent of the oral errors reported by 
the teachers of grades III and VII involved the use of the verb, 
and nearly half of these, or 24 per cent, of the total, involved 
a confusion of the past tense form and the perfect participle. 
Again, double negatives constituted 11 per cent of the errors, and 
the misuse of adjectives or of adjectival forms for adverbs ran 
to 4 per cent. Finally, the difficulties of the objective case 
among the pronouns, the last stronghold of that case in English, 
were responsible for 7 per cent, thus demonstrating a clear tend- 
ency to get rid of it altogether. Now compare the errors of 
these children, half of whom, as I have just said, were in grade 
III, and hence wholly uninstructed in formal grammar, with the 
errors made by children of the second oral group that is, chil- 
dren of grades VI and VII, in both of which grammar is studied. 
Dr. Charters' tabulations show scarcely any difference in the 

IT Dr. Charters' report appears as Vol. XVI, No. 2, University of Mis- 
souri Bulletin, Education Series No. 9, Jan., 1915. He was aided in his 
inquiry by Edith Miller, teacher of English in one of the St. Louis high- 


character and relative rank of the errors discovered. Those in 
the use of the verb drop from 57 per cent of the total to 52 per 
cent, but the double negatives remain at 7 per cent and the 
errors in the case of pronouns at 11 per cent. 

In the written work of grades VI and VII, however, certain 
changes appear, no doubt because of the special pedagogical ef- 
fort against the more salient oral errors. The child, pen in hand, 
has in mind the cautions oftenest heard, and so reveals some- 
thing of that greater exactness which all of us show when we 
do any writing that must bear critical inspection. Thus, the 
relative frequency of confusions between the past tense forms 
of verbs and the perfect participles drops from 24 per cent to 
5 per cent, and errors based on double negatives drop to 1 
per cent. But this improvement in one direction merely serves 
to unearth new barbarisms in other directions, concealed in the 
oral tables by the flood of errors now remedied. It is among 
the verbs that they are still most numerous; altogether, the 
errors here amount to exactly 50 per cent of the total. Such 
locutions as / had went and he seen diminish relatively and abso- 
lutely, but in all other situations the verb is treated with the 
lavish freedom that is so characteristic of the American common 
speech. Confusions of the past and present tenses jump from 
2 per cent to 19 per cent, thus eloquently demonstrating the 
tenacity of the error. And mistakes in the forms of nouns and 
pronouns increase from 2 per cent to 16: a shining proof of a 
shakiness which follows the slightest effort to augment the vo- 
cabulary of everyday. 

The materials collected by Dr. Charters and his associates are 
not, of course, presented in full, but his numerous specimens 
must strike familiar chords in every ear that is alert to the 
sounds and ways of the sermo vulgus. What he gathered in 
Kansas City might have been gathered just as well in San Fran- 
cisco, or New Orleans, or Chicago, or New York, or in Youngs- 
town, 0., or Little Rock, Ark., or Waterloo, Iowa. In each of 
these places, large or small, a few localisms might have been 
noted oi substituted for ur in New York, you-all in the South, 
a few Germanisms in Pennsylvania and in the upper Mississippi 


Valley, a few Spanish locutions in the Southwest, certain pe- 
culiar vowel-forms in New England but in the main the report 
would have been identical with the report he makes. That vast 
uniformity which marks the people of the United States, in 
political doctrine, in social habit, in general information, in re- 
action to ideas, in prejudices and enthusiasms, in the veriest de- 
tails of domestic custom and dress, is nowhere more marked than 
in language. The incessant neologisms of the national speech 
sweep the whole country almost instantly, and the iconoclastic 
changes which its popular spoken form are undergoing show 
themselves from coast to coast. ' ' He hurt /mself , ' ' cited by Dr. 
Charters, is surely anything but a Missouri localism; one hears 
it everywhere. And so, too, one hears "she invited him and I," 
and "it hurt terrible," and "I set there," and "this here man," 
and "no, I never, neither, and "he ain't here," and "where is 
he at?" and "it seems like I remember," and "if I was you," 
and "us fellows," and "he give her hell." And "he taken and 
kissed her," and "he loaned me a dollar," and "the man was 
found two dollars," and "the bee stang him," and "I wouldda 
thought," and "can I have one?" and "he got hisn," and "the 
boss left him off," and "the baby et the soap," and "them are 
the kind I like," and "he don't care," and "no one has their 
ticket," and "how is the folks?" and "if you would of gotten 
in the car you could of rode down. ' ' 

Curiously enough, this widely dispersed and highly savory 
dialect already, as I shall show, come to a certain grammatical 
regularity has attracted the professional writers of the coun- 
try almost as little as it has attracted the philologists. There 
are f oreshadowings of it in " Huckleberry Finn, " in " The Big- 
low Papers" and even in the rough humor of the period that 
began with J. C. Neal and company and ended with Artemus 
Ward and Josh Billings, but in those early days it had not yet 
come to full flower; it wanted the influence of the later immi- 
grations to take on its present character. The enormous dialect 
literature of twenty years ago left it almost untouched. Local- 
isms were explored diligently, but the general dialect went vir- 
tually unobserved. It is not in " Chimmie Fadden" ; it is not in 


"David Harum" ; it is not even in the pre-fable stories of George 
Ade, perhaps the most acute observer of average, undistinguished 
American types, urban and rustic, that American literature has 
yet produced. The business of reducing it to print had to wait 
for Ring W. Lardner, a Chicago newspaper reporter. In his 
grotesque tales of base-ball players, so immediately and so de- 
servedly successful and now so widely imitated, 18 Lardner re- 
ports the common speech not only with humor, but also with the 
utmost accuracy. The observations of Charters and his asso- 
ciates are here reinforced by the sharp ear of one specially com- 
petent, and the result is a mine of authentic American. 

In a single story by Lardner, in truth, it is usually possible 
to discover examples of almost every logical and grammatical 
peculiarity of the emerging language, and he always resists very 
stoutly the temptation to overdo the thing. Here, for example, 
are a few typical sentences from "The Busher's Honeymoon": 1S> 

I and Florrie was married the day before yesterday just like I told 
you we was going to be. ... You was wise to get married in Bedford, 
where not nothing is nearly half so dear. . . . The sum of what I have 
wrote down is $29.40. . . . Allen told me I should ought to give the 
priest $5. ... I never seen him before. ... I didn't used to eat no 
lunch in the playing season except when I knowed I was not going to 
work. ... I guess the meals has cost me all together about $1.50, and 
I have eat very little myself. . . . 

I was willing to tell her all about them two poor girls. . . . They 
must not be no mistake about who is the boss in my house. Some men 
lets their wife run all over them. . . . Allen has went to a college foot- 
ball game. One of the reporters give him a pass. . . . He called up 
and said he hadn't only the one pass, but he was not hurting my feel- 
ings none. . . . The flat across the hall from this here one is for rent. 
... If we should of boughten furniture it would cost us in the neigh- 
borhood of $100, even without no piano. ... I consider myself lucky 
to of found out about this before it was too late and somebody else 
had of gotten the tip. ... It will always be ourn, even when we move 
away. . . . Maybe you could of did better if you had of went at it in a 
different way. . . . Both her and you is welcome at my house. ... I 
never seen so much wine drank in my life. . . . 

is You Know Me Al: New York, 1916. 
i Saturday Evening Post, July 11, 1914. 


Here are specimens to fit into most of Charters' categories 
verbs confused as to tense, pronouns confused as to case, double 
and even triple negatives, nouns and verbs disagreeing in num- 
ber, have softened to of, n marking the possessive instead of s, 
like used in place of as, and the personal pronoun substituted 
for the demonstrative adjective. A study of the whole story 
would probably unearth all the remaining errors noted in Kansas 
City. Lardner's baseball player, though he has pen in hand 
and is on his guard, and is thus very careful to write would not 
instead of wouldn't and even am not instead of ain't, offers a 
comprehensive and highly instructive panorama of popular 
speech habits. To him the forms of the subjunctive mood have 
no existence, and will and shall are identical, and adjectives and 
adverbs are indistinguishable, and the objective case is merely a 
variorum form of the nominative. His past tense is, more often 
than not, the orthodox present tense. All, fine distinctions are 
obliterated in his speech. He uses invariably the word that is 
simplest, the grammatical form that is handiest. And so he 
moves toward the philological millennium dreamed of by George 
T. Lanigan, when "the singular verb shall lie down with the 
plural noun, and a little conjugation shall lead them. ' ' 


The Verb A study of the materials amassed by Charters and 
Lardner, if it be reinforced by observation of what is heard on 
the streets every day, will show that the chief grammatical pecul- 
iarities of spoken American lie among the verbs and pronouns. 
The nouns in common use, in the overwhelming main, are quite 
sound in form. Very often, of course, they do not belong to 
the vocabulary of English, but they at least belong to the vocab- 
ulary of American: the proletariat, setting aside transient slang, 
calls things by their proper names, and pronounces those names 
more or less correctly. The adjectives, too, are treated rather 
politely, and the adverbs, though commonly transformed into 
adjectives, are not further mutilated. But the verbs and pro- 
nouns undergo changes which set off the common speech very 


sharply from both correct English and correct American. Their 
grammatical relationships are thoroughly overhauled and some- 
times they are radically modified in form. 

This process is natural and inevitable, for it is among the 
verbs and pronouns, as we have seen, that the only remaining 
grammatical inflections in English, at least of any force or conse- 
quence, are to be found, and so they must bear the chief pressure 
of the influences that have been warring upon all inflections 
since the earliest days. The primitive Indo-European language, 
it is probable, had eight cases of the noun ; the oldest known Teu- 
tonic dialect reduced them to six; in Anglo-Saxon they fell to 
four, with a weak and moribund instrumental hanging in the 
air ; in Middle English the dative and accusative began to decay ; 
in Modern English they have disappeared altogether, save as 
ghosts to haunt grammarians. But we still have two plainly 
defined conjugations of the verb, and we still inflect it for num- 
ber, and, in part, at least, for person. And we yet retain an 
objective case of the pronoun, and inflect it for person, number 
and gender. 

Some of the more familiar conjugations of verbs in the Amer- 
ican common speech, as recorded by Charters or Lardner or de- 
rived from my own collectanea, are here set down : 

Present Preterite Perfect Participle 

Am was bin (or ben) 20 

Attack attackted attackted 

(Be) 21 was bin (or ben) 20 

Beat beaten beat 

Become 22 become became 

Begin begun began 

Bend bent bent 

Bet bet bet 

Bind bound bound 

Bite bitten bit 

20 Bin is the correct American pronunciation. Bean, as we have seen, 
is the English. But I have often found ben, rhyming with pen, in such 
phrases as "I ben there." 

21 See p. 209. 

22 Seldom used. Get is used in the place of it, as in "I am getting old" 
and "he got sick." 




Perfect Participle 





blowed (or blew) 

blowed (or blew) 





brought (or brung, or 



Broke (passive) 







T>-,_~,4- 24 

burnt 23 






bought (or boughten) 

bought (or boughten) 





caught 25 








Cling (to hold fast) 



Cling (to ring) 







crep (or crope) 






















done (or did) 





drawed 26 

drawed (or drew) 





drank (or drunk) 









et (or eat) 



fell (or fallen) 








23 Burned, with a distinct d-sound, is almost unknown in American. See 
p. 201. 

2 * Not used. 

25 Cotched is heard only in the South, and mainly among the negroes. 
Catch, of course, is always pronounced ketch. 

29 But "I drew three jacks," in poker. 




Perfect Participle 

fetched 27 


fought 28 










frozen (or friz) 
got (or gotten) 


glode 29 




hung 30 
het ai 

had (or hadden) 
heerd (or heern) 










held (or helt) 







laid (or lain) 






H'ist 32 

27 Fotch is also heard, but it is not general. 

28 Fit and fitten, unless my observation errs, are heard only in dialect. 
Fit is archaic English. Cf. Thornton, vol. i, p. 322. 

29 Glode once enjoyed a certain respectability in America. It occurs in 
the Knickerbocker Magazine for April, 1856. 

so Hanged is never heard. 

31 Het is incomplete without the addition of up. "He was het up" is 
always heard, not "he was het." 

32 Always so pronounced. See p. 236. 





Perfect Participle 





loaned 33 


Lie (to falsify) 



Lie (to recline) 

laid (or lain) 





























proved (or proven) 














Rench 8 * 









Rile 85 







riz (or rose) 


















set 38 



shaken (or shuck) 








Shine (to polish) 


















83 See pp. 57 and 202. 
34 Always used in place of rinse. 
33 Always used in place of roil. 
86 Sot is heard as a localism only. 



Present Preterite Perfect Participle 

Sit 37 






































Wish (wisht) 



37 See set, which is used almost invariably in place of sit. 

ss Thunk is never used seriously; it always shows humorous intent. 

39 See pp. 201 and 211. 

































thought 38 














won (or wan) 39 

won (or wan) 






A glance at these conjugations is sufficient to show several 
general tendencies, some of them going back, in their essence, 
to the earliest days of the English language. The most obvious 
is that leading to the transfer of verbs from the so-called strong 
conjugation to the weak a change already in operation before 
the Norman Conquest, and very marked during the Middle Eng- 
lish period. Chaucer used growed for grew in the prologue 
to "The Wife of Bath's Tale," and rised for rose and smited 
for smote are in John Purvey 's edition of the Bible, circa 1385. 40 
Many of these transformations were afterward abandoned, but 
a large number survived, for example, climbed for clomb as the 
preterite of to climb, and melted for molt as the preterite of to 
melt. Others showed themselves during the early part of the 
Modern English period. Corned as the perfect participle of to 
come and digged as the preterite of to dig are both in Shake- 
speare, and the latter is also in Milton and in the Authorized 
Version of the Bible. This tendency went furthest, of course, 
in the vulgar speech, and it has been embalmed in the English 
dialects. I seen and I knowed, for example, are common to many 
of them. But during the seventeenth century it seems to have 
been arrested, and even to have given way to a contrary tend- 
ency that is, toward strong conjugations. The English of Ire- 
land, which preserves many seventeenth century forms, shows 
this plainly. Fed for paid, gother for gathered, and ruz for 
raised are still in use there, and Joyce says flatly that the Irish, 
"retaining the old English custom [i. e. } the custom of the pe- 
riod of Cromwell's invasion, circa 1650], have a leaning toward 
the strong inflection. ' ' 41 Certain verb forms of the American 
colonial period, now reduced to the estate of localisms, are also 
probably survivors of the seventeenth century. 

"The three great causes of change in language," says Sayce, 
"may be briefly described as (1) imitation or analogy, (2) a wish 
to be clear and emphatic, and (3) laziness. Indeed, if we choose 
to go deep enough we might reduce all three causes to the gen- 
eral one of laziness, since it is easier to imitate than to say 

*o Cf. Lounsbury : History of the English Language, pp. 309-10. 
i English As We Speak It In Ireland, p. 77. 


something new. ' ' 42 This tendency to take well- worn paths, 
paradoxically enough, is responsible both for the transfer of 
verbs from the strong to the weak declension, and for the trans- 
fer of certain others from the weak to the strong. A verb in 
everyday use tends almost inevitably to pull less familiar verbs 
with it, whether it be strong or weak. Thus fed as the preterite 
of to feed and led as the preterite of to lead paved the way for 
pled as the preterite of to plead, and rode as plainly performed 
the same office for glode, and rung for brung, and drove for dove 
and hove, and stole for dole, and won for skun. Moreover, a 
familiar verb, itself acquiring a faulty inflection, may fasten 
a similar inflection upon another verb of like sound. Thus het, 
as the preterite of to heat, no doubt owes its existence to the 
example of et, the vulgar preterite of to eat. So far the irreg- 
ular verbs. The same combination of laziness and imitativeness 
works toward the regularization of certain verbs that are his- 
torically irregular. In addition, of course, there is the fact that 
regularization is itself intrinsically simplification that it makes 
the language easier. One sees the antagonistic pull of the two 
influences in the case of verbs ending in -ow. The analogy of 
knew suggests snew as the preterite of to snow, and it is some- 
times encountered in the American vulgate. But the analogy of 
snowed also suggests knowed, and the superior regularity of the 
form is enough to overcome the greater influence of knew as a 
more familiar word than snowed. Thus snew grows rare and 
is in decay, but knowed shows vigor, and so do growed and 
throwed. The substitution of heerd for heard also presents a 
case of logic and convenience supporting analogy. The form is 
suggested by steered, feared and cheered, but its main advantage 
lies in the fact that it gets rid of a vowel change, always an im- 
pediment to easy speech. Here, as in the contrary direction, one 
barbarism breeds another. Thus taken, as the preterite of to 
take, has undoubtedly helped to make preterites of two other 
perfects, shaken and forsaken. 

But in the presence of two exactly contrary tendencies, the 
one in accordance with the general movement of the language 

42 The Science of Language, vol. i, p. 166. 


since the Norman Conquest and the ather opposed to it, it is un- 
safe, of course, to attempt any very positive generalizations. All 
one may exhibit with safety is a general habit of treating the 
verb conveniently. Now and then, disregarding grammatical 
tendencies, it is possible to discern what appear to be logical 
causes for verb phenomena. That lit is preferred to lighted 
and hung to hanged is probably the result of an aversion to fine 
distinctions, and perhaps, more fundamentally, to the passive. 
Again, the use of found as the preterite of to fine is obviously 
due to an ignorant confusion of fine and find, due to the wearing 
off of -d in find, and that of lit as the preterite of to alight to a 
confusion of alight and light. Yet again, the use of tread as its 
own preterite in place of trod is probably the consequence of a 
vague feeling that a verb ending with d is already of preterite 
form. Shed exhibits the same process. Both are given a logical 
standing by such preterites as bled, fed, fled, led, read, dead and 
spread. But here, once more, it is hazardous to lay down laws, 
for shredded, headed, dreaded, threaded and breaded at once 
come to mind. In other cases it is still more difficult to account 
for preterites in common use. Drug is wholly illogical, and so 
are clum and friz. Neither, fortunately, has yet supplanted the 
more intelligible form of its verb, and so it is not necessary to 
speculate about them. As for crew, it is archaic English sur- 
viving in American, and it was formed, perhaps, by analogy 
with knew, which has succumbed in American to knowed. 

Some of the verbs of the vulgate show the end products of 
language movements that go back to the Anglo-Saxon period, and 
even beyond. There is, for example, the disappearance of the 
final t in such words as crep, slep, lep, swep and wep. Most of 
these, in Anglo-Saxon, were strong verbs. The preterite of to 
sleep (sldepan), for example, was slep, and that of to weep was 
weop. But in the course of time both to sleep and to weep ac- 
quired weak preterite endings, the first becoming sldepte and 
the second wepte. This weak conjugation was itself degenerated. 
Originally, the inflectional suffix had been -de or -ede and in some 
cases -ode, and the vowels were always pronounced. The wear- 
ing down process that set in in the twelfth century disposed 


of the final e, but in certain words the other vowel survived for 
a good while, and we still observe it in such archaisms as beloved. 
Finally, however, it became silent in other preterites, and loved, 
for example, began to be pronounced (and often written) as 
a word of one syllable : lov'd.* 3 This final cZ-sound now fell upon 
difficulties of its own. After certain consonants it was hard to 
pronounce clearly, and so the sonant was changed into the easier 
surd, and such words as pushed and clipped became, in ordinary 
conversation, pusht and dipt. In other verbs the tf-sound had 
come in long before, with the degenerated weak ending, and when 
the final e was dropped their stem vowels tended to change. 
Thus arose such forms as slept. In vulgar American another 
step is taken, and the suffix is dropped altogether. Thus, by a 
circuitous route, verbs originally strong, and for many centuries 
hovering between the two conjugations, have eventually become 
strong again. 

The case of helt is probably an example of change by false 
analogy. During the thirteenth century, according to Sweet, 44 
"d was changed to t in the weak preterites of verbs [ending] in 
rd, Id and nd." Before that time the preterite of sende (send) 
had been sende; now it became sente. It survives in our mod- 
ern sent, and the same process is also revealed in built, girt, 
lent, rent and bent. The popular speech, disregarding the fact 
that to hold is a strong verb, arrives at helt by imitation. In the 
case of tole, which I almost always hear in place of told, there 
is a leaping of steps. The d is got rid of without any transi- 
tional use of t. So also, perhaps, in swole, which is fast dis- 
placing swelled.. Attackted and drownded seem to be examples 
of an effort to dispose of harsh combinations by a contrary proc- 
ess. Both are very old in English. Boughten and dreampt pre- 
43 The last stand of the distinct -ed was made in Addison's day. He 
was in favor of retaining it, and in the Spectator for Aug. 4, 1711, he 
protested against obliterating the syllable in the termination "of our 
praeter perfect tense, as in these words, drown'd, walk'd, arriv'd, for 
drowned, walked, arrived, which has very much disfigured the tongue, and 
turned a tenth part of our smoothest words into so many clusters of con- 

44 A New English Grammar, pt. i, p. 380. 


sent greater difficulties. Lounsbury says that boughten prob- 
ably originated in the Northern [i. e., Lowland Scotch] dialect 
of English, "which . . . inclined to retain the full form of the 
past participle," and even to add its termination "to words to 
which it did not properly belong. " 45 I record dreampt without 
attempting to account for it. I have repeatedly heard a distinct 
p-sound in the word. 

The general tendency toward regularization is well exhibited 
by the new verbs that come into the language constantly. Prac- 
tically all of them show the weak conjugation, for example, to 
phone, to bluff, to rubber-neck, to ante, to bunt, to wireless, to 
insurge and to loop-the-loop. Even when a compound has as 
its last member a verb ordinarily strong, it remains weak itself. 
Thus the preterite of to joy-ride is not joy-rode, nor even joy- 
ridden, but joy-rided. And thus bust, from burst, is regular 
and its preterite is busted, though burst is irregular and its pre- 
terite is the verb itself unchanged. The same tendency toward 
regularity is shown by the verbs of the kneel-class. They are 
strong in English, but tend to become weak in colloquial Amer- 
ican. Thus the preterite of to kneel, despite the example of to 
sleep and its analogues, is not knel', nor even knelt, but kneeled. 
I have even heard feeled as the preterite of to feel, as in "I 
feeled my way," though here felt still persists. To spread also 
tends to become weak, as in "he spreaded a piece of bread." 
And to peep remains so, despite the example of to leap. The 
confusion between the inflections of to lie and those of to lay 
extends to the higher reaches of spoken American, and so does 
that between lend and loan. The proper inflections of to lend 
are often given to to loan, and so leaned becomes lent, as in "I 
lent on the counter." In the same way to set has almost com- 
pletely superseded to sit, and the preterite of the former, set, is 
used in place of sat. But the perfect participle (which is also 
the disused preterite) of to sit has survived, as in "I have 
sat there. ' ' To speed and to shoe have become regular, not only 
because of the general tendency toward the weak conjugation, 
but also for logical reasons. The prevalence of speed contests 

* History of the English Language, p. 398. 


of various sorts, always to the intense interest of the proletariat, 
has brought such words as speeder, speeding, speed-mania, speed- 
maniac and speed-limit into daily use, and speeded harmonizes 
with them better than the stronger sped. As for shoed, it merely 
reveals the virtual disappearance of the verb in its passive form. 
An American would never say that his wife was well shod; 
he would say that she wore good shoes. To shoe suggests to him 
only the shoeing of animals, and so, by way of shoeing and 
horse-shoer, he comes to shoed. His misuse of to learn for to 
teach is common to most of the English dialects. More peculiar 
to his speech is the use of to leave for to let. Charters records 
it in ' ' Washington left them have it, ' ' and there are many exam- 
ples of it in Lardner. Spit, in American, has become invariable ; 
the old preterite, spat, has completely disappeared. But slit, 
which is now invariable in English (though it was strong in 
Old English and had both strong and weak preterites in Mid- 
dle English), has become regular in American, as in "she slitted 
her skirt." 

In studying the American verb, of course, it is necessary to 
remember always that it is in a state of transition, and that in 
many cases the manner of using it is not yet fixed. ' ' The history 
of language, ' ' says Lounsbury, ' ' when looked at from the purely 
grammatical point of view, is little else than the history of cor- 
ruptions." What we have before us is a series of corruptions 
in active process, and while some of them have gone very far, 
others are just beginning. Thus it is not uncommon to find 
corrupt forms side by side with orthodox forms, or even two cor- 
rupt forms battling with each other. Lardner, in the case of 
to throw, hears "if he had throwed" ; my own observation is 
that threw is more often used in that situation. Again, he uses 
"the rottenest I ever seen gave"; my own belief is that give 
is far more commonly used. The conjugation of to give, how- 
ever, is yet very uncertain, and so Lardner may report accurately. 
I have heard "I given" and "I would of gave," but "I give" 
seems to be prevailing, and "I would of give" with it, thus re- 
ducing to give to one invariable form, like those of to cut, to hit, 
to put, to cost, to hurt and to spit. My table of verbs shows 


various other uncertainties and confusions. The preterite of to 
hear is heerd; the perfect may be either heerd or heern. That 
of to do may be either done or did, with the latter apparently pre- 
vailing; that of to draw is drew if the verb indicates to attract 
or to abstract and drawed if it indicates to draw with a pencil. 
Similarly, the preterite of to blow may be either Wowed or blew, 
and that of to drink oscillates between drank and drunk, and 
that of to fall is still usually fell, though fallen has appeared, 
and that of to shake may be either shaken or shuck. The conju- 
gation of to win is yet far from fixed. The correct English 
preterite, won, is still in use, but against it are arrayed wan 
and winned. Wan seems to show some kinship, by ignorant 
analogy, with ran and began. It is often used as the perfect 
participle, as in ' ' I have wan $4. ' ' 

The misuse of the perfect participle for the preterite, now 
almost the invariable rule in vulgar American, is common to 
many other dialects of English, and seems to be a symptom of 
a general decay of the perfect tenses. That decay has been go- 
ing on for a long time, and in American, the most vigorous and 
advanced of all the dialects of the language, it is particularly 
well marked. Even in the most pretentious written American it 
shows itself. The English, in their writing, still use the future 
perfect, albeit somewhat laboriously and self-consciously, but in 
America it has virtually disappeared: one often reads whole 
books without encountering a single example of it. Even the 
present perfect and the past perfect seem to be instinctively 
avoided. The Englishman says "I have dined," but the Amer- 
ican says "I am through dinner"; the Englishman says "I had 
slept," but the American often says "I was done sleeping." 
Thus the perfect tenses are forsaken for the simple present and 
the past. In the vulgate a further step is taken, and "I have 
been there" becomes "I been there." Even in such phrases as 
"he hasn't been here," ain't (=am not] is commonly substi- 
tuted for have not, thus giving the present perfect a flavor of 
the simple present. The step from "I have taken" to "I taken" 
was therefore neither difficult nor unnatural, and once it had 
been made the resulting locution was supported by the greater 


apparent regularity of its verb. Moreover, this perfect parti- 
ciple, thus put in place of the preterite, was further reinforced 
by the fact that it was the adjectival form of the verb, and 
hence collaterally familiar. Finally, it was also the authentic 
preterite in the passive voice, and although this influence, in 
view of the decay of the passive, may not have been of much 
consequence, nevertheless it is not to be dismissed as of no conse- 
quence at all. 

The contrary substitution of the preterite for the perfect par- 
ticiple, as in "I have went" and "he has did," apparently has 
a double influence behind it. In the first place, there is the 
effect of the confused and blundering effort, by an ignorant and 
unanalytical speaker, to give the perfect some grammatical dif- 
ferentiation when he finds himself getting into it an excursion 
not infrequently made necessary by logical exigencies, despite 
his inclination to keep out. The nearest indicator at hand is the 
disused preterite, and so it is put to use. Sometimes a sense of 
its uncouthness seems to linger, and there is a tendency to give 
it an ew-suffix, thus bringing it into greater harmony with its 
tense. I find that boughten, just discussed, is used much oftener 
in the perfect than in the simple past tense ; 46 for the latter 
bought usually suffices. The quick ear of Lardner detects vari- 
ous other coinages of the same sort, among them tooken, as in 
"little Al might of tooken sick." 47 Hodden is also met with, 
as in "I would of hadden." But the majority of preterites re- 
main unchanged. Lardner 's baseball player never writes ' ' I 
have written" or "I have wroten," but always "I have wrote." 
And in the same way he always writes, "I have did, ate, went, 
drank, rode, ran, saw, sang, woke and stole." Sometimes the 
simple form of the verb persists through all tenses. This is 
usually the case, for example, with to give. I have noted "I 
give" both as present and as preterite, and "I have give," and 
even "I had give." But even here "I have gave" offers rivalry 
to ' ' I have give," and usage is not settled. So, too, with to come. 
"I have come" and "I have came" seem to be almost equally 

46 And still more often as an adjective, as in "it was a boughten dress." 
*7 You Know Me Al, p. 180; see also p. 122. 


favored, with the former supported by pedagogical admonition 
and the latter by the spirit of the language. 

Whatever the true cause of the substitution of the preterite 
for the perfect participle, it seems to be a tendency inherent in 
English, and during the age of Elizabeth it showed itself even 
in the most formal speech. An examination of any play of 
Shakespeare's will show many such forms as "I have wrote," 
"I am mistook" and "he has rode." In several cases this trans- 
fer of the preterite has survived. "I have stood," for example, 
is now perfectly correct English, but before 1550 the form was 
"I have stonden." To hold and to sit belong to the same class; 
their original perfect participles were not held and sat, but 
holden and sitten. These survived the movement toward the 
formalization of the language which began with the eighteenth 
century, but scores of other such misplaced preterites were 
driven out. One of the last to go was wrote, which persisted 
until near the end of the century. 48 Paradoxically enough, the 
very purists who performed the purging showed a preference 
for got (though not for forgot), and it survives in correct Eng- 
lish today in the preterite-present form, as in "I have got," 
whereas in American, both vulgar and polite, the elder and more 
regular gotten is often used. In the polite speech gotten indi- 
cates a distinction between a completed action and a continuing 
action, between obtaining and possessing. "I have gotten 
what I came for" is correct, and so is "I have got the measles." 
In the vulgar speech, much the same distinction exists, but the 
perfect becomes a sort of simple tense by the elision of have. 
Thus the two sentences change to "I gotten what I come for" 
and "I got the measles," the latter being understood, not as 
past, but as present. 

In "I have got the measles" got is historically a sort of aux- 
iliary of have, and in colloquial American, as we have seen in 
the examples just given, the auxiliary has obliterated the verb. 
To have, as an auxiliary, probably because of its intimate rela- 
tionship with the perfect tenses, is under heavy pressure, and 

Cf. Lounsbury : History of the English Language, pp. 393 et seq. 


promises to disappear from the situations in which it is still 
used. I have heard was used in place of it, as in "before the 
Elks was come here. ' ' 49 Sometimes it is confused ignorantly 
with a distinct of, as in " she would of drove, ' ' and ' ' I would of 
gave. ' ' More often it is shaded to a sort of particle, attached to 
the verb as an inflection, as in " he would 'a tole you, ' ' and ' ' who 
could 'a took it?" But this is not all. Having degenerated to 
such forms, it is now employed as a sort of auxiliary to itself, in 
the subjunctive, as in "if you had of went," "if it had of been 
hard," and "if I had of had." 50 I have encountered some 
rather astonishing examples of this doubling of the auxiliary: 
one appears in "I wouldn't had 'a went." Here, however, the 
a may belong partly to had and partly to went; such forms as 
a-going are very common in American. But in the other cases, 
and in such forms as "I had 'a wanted," it clearly belongs to 
had. Sometimes for syntactical reasons, the degenerated form 
of have is put before had instead of after it, as in "I could of 
had her if I had of wanted to. ' ' 51 Meanwhile, to have, ceas- 
ing to be an auxiliary, becomes a general verb indicating com- 
pulsion. Here it promises to displace must. The American 
seldom says "I must go"; he almost invariably says "I have 
to go," or "I have got to go," in which last case, as we have 
seen, got is the auxiliary. 

The most common inflections of the verb for mode and voice 
are shown in the following paradigm of to bite: 

Indicative Mode 

Present I bite Past Perfect I had of bit 

Present Perfect I have bit Future I will bite 

Past I bitten Future Perfect (wanting) 

4 Remark of a policeman talking to another. What he actually said 
was "before the Elks was c'm 'ere." Come and here were one word, ap- 
proximately cmear. The context showed that he meant to use the past 
perfect tense. 

so These examples are from Lardner's story, A New Busher Breaks In, 
in You Know Me Al, pp. 122 et seq. 

i You Know Me Al, op. cit., p. 124. 






Present Perfect 


Present Perfect 


Subjunctive Mode 

If I bite Past Perfect 

If I bitten 

Potential Mode 

I can bite Past 

(wanting) Past Perfect 

Imperative (or Optative) Mode 
I shall (or will) bite 

Infinitive Mode 

Indicative Mode 

I am bit Pas* Perfect 

I been bit Future 

I was bit Future Perfect 

Subjunctive Mode 

If I am bit Past Perfect 

If I was bit 

Potential Mode 

I can be bit Past 

(wanting) Past Perfect 

Imperative Mode 
Infinitive Mode 

If I had of bit 

I could bite 
I could of bit 

I had been bit 
I will be bit 

If I had of been 

I could be bit 
I could of been 

A study of this paradigm reveals several plain tendencies. 
One has just been discussed : the addition of a degenerated form 
of have to the preterite of the auxiliary, and its use in place of 
the auxiliary itself. Another is the use of will instead of shall 
in the first person future. Shall is confined to a sort of opta- 
tive, indicating much more than mere intention, and even here 
it is yielding to will. Yet another is the consistent use of the 
transferred preterite in the passive. Here the rule in correct 
English is followed faithfully, though the perfect participle 


employed is not the English participle. "I am broke" is a 
good example. Finally, there is the substitution of was for were 
and of am for be in the past and present of the subjunctive. In 
this last case American is in accord with the general movement 
of English, though somewhat more advanced. Be, in the Shake- 
spearean form of "where be thy brothers?" was expelled from 
the present indicative two hundred years ago, and survives to- 
day only in dialect. And as it thus yielded to are in the in- 
dicative, it now seems destined to yield to am and is in the sub- 
junctive. It remains, of course, in the future indicative: "I 
will be." In American its conjugation coalesces with that of am 
in the following manner: 

I am Past Perfect I had of ben 

I bin (or ben) Future I will be 

I was Future Perfect (wanting) 

And in the subjunction : 

Present If I am Past Perfect If I had of ben 

If I was 

All signs of the subjunctive, indeed, seem to be disappear- 
ing from vulgar American. One never hears "if I were you," 
but always "if I was you." In the third person the -s is not 
dropped from the verb. One hears, not "if she go," but "if 
she goes." "If he be the man" is never heard; it is always 
"if he is." This war upon the forms of the subjunctive, of 
course, extends to the most formal English. ' ' In Old English, ' ' 
says Bradley, 52 "the subjunctive played as important a part as 
in modern German, and was used in much the same way. Its 
inflection differed in several respects from that of the indicative. 
But the only formal trace of the old subjunctive still remaining, 
except the use of be and were, is the omission of the final s in 
the third person singular. And even this is rapidly dropping 
out of use. . . . Perhaps in another generation the subjunctive 
forms will have ceased to exist except in the single instance of 
were, which serves a useful function, although we manage to 

82 The Making of English, p. 53. 


dispense with a corresponding form in other verbs." Here, as 
elsewhere, unlettered American usage simply proceeds in ad- 
vance of the general movement. Be and the omitted s are already 
dispensed with, and even were has been discarded. 

In the same way the distinction between will and shall, pre- 
served in correct English but already breaking down in the 
most correct American, has been lost entirely in the American 
common speech. Will has displaced shall completely, save in the 
imperative. This preference extends to the inflections of both. 
Sha'n't is very seldom heard; almost always won't is used in- 
stead. As for should, it is displaced by ought to (degenerated 
to oughter or ought 'a}, and in its negative form by hadn't 
ought 'a, as in "he hadn't oughter said that," reported by Char- 
ters. Lardner gives various redundant combinations of should 
and ought, as in ' ' I don 't feel as if I should ought to leave ' ' and 
"they should not ought to of had." I have encountered the 
same form, but I don't think it is as common as the simple 
ought 'a- forms. In the main, should is avoided, sometimes at 
considerable pains. Often its place is taken by the more posi- 
tive don't. Thus ' ' I don't mind ' ' is used instead of " I shouldn 't 
mind." Don't has also completely displaced doesn't, which is 
very seldom heard. "He don't" and "they don't" are prac- 
tically universal. In the same way ain't has displaced is not, am 
not, isn't and aren't, and even have not and haven't. One re- 
calls a famous speech in a naval melodrama of twenty years ago : 
"We ain't got no manners, but we can fight like hell." Such 
forms as "he ain't here," "I ain't the man," "them ain't what 
I want" and "I ain't heerd of it" are common. 

This extensive use of ain't, of course, is merely a single symp- 
tom of a general disregard of number, obvious throughout the 
verbs, and also among the pronouns, as we shall see. Charters 
gives many examples, among them, "how is Uncle Wallace and 
Aunt Clara?" "you was," "there is six" and the incomparable 
"it ain't right to say, 'He ain't here today.' ' In Lardner 
there are many more, for instance, "them Giants is not such 
rotten hitters, is they?" "the people has all wanted to shake 
hands with Matthewson and I" and "some of the men has 


brung their wife along." Sez (=says), used as the preterite 
of to say, shows the same confusion. One observes it again in 
such forms as "then I goes up to him." Here the decay of 
number helps in what threatens to become a decay of tense. 
Examples of it are not hard to find. The average race-track 
follower of the humbler sort seldom says "I won $2," or even "I 
wan $2, ' ' but almost always ' ' I win $2. ' ' And in the same way 
he says "I see him come in," not "I saw him" or "seen him." 
Charters' materials offers other specimens, among them "we 
help distributed the fruit," "she recognize, hug, and kiss him" 
and "her father ask her if she intended doing what he ask." 
Perhaps the occasional use of eat as the preterite of to eat, as in 
"I eat breakfast as soon as I got up," is an example of the 
same flattening out of distinctions. Lardner has many speci- 
mens, among them "if Weaver and them had not of begin kick- 
ing ' ' and ' ' they would of knock down the fence. ' ' I notice that 
used, in used to be, is almost always reduced to simple use, as 
in "it use to be the rule. ' ' One seldom, if ever, hears a clear d 
at the end. Here, of course, the elision of the d is due prima- 
rily to assimilation with the t of to a second example of one 
form of decay aiding another form. But the tenses apparently 
tend to crumble without help. I frequently hear whole narra- 
tives in a sort of debased present: "I says to him. . . . Then 
he ups and says. ... I land him one on the ear. . . . He goes 
down and out, ..." and so on. 53 Still under the spell of our 
disintegrating inflections, we are prone to regard the tense in- 
flections of the verb as absolutely essential, but there are plenty 
of languages that get on without them, and even in our own 
language children and foreigners often reduce them to a few 
simple forms. Some time ago an Italian contractor said to me 
"I have go there often." Here one of our few surviving inflec- 
tions was displaced by an analytical devise, and yet the man's 
meaning was quite clear, and it would be absurd to say that his 
sentence violated the inner spirit of English. That inner spirit, 
in fact, has inclined steadily toward "I have go" for a thou- 
sand years. 

53 Cf. Dialect Notes, vol. iii, pt. i, p. 59; ibid., vol. Ill, pt. iv, p. 283. 




The Pronoun The following paradigm shows the inflections 
of the personal pronoun in the American common speech: 

Common Gender 





(Conjoint my 
\Absolute mine 


Common Gender 


(Conjoint your 
\Absolute yourn 


Masculine Gender 




f Conjoint his 
\Absolute hisn 

Feminine Gender 




f Conjoint her 
\Absolute hern 

Neuter Gender 




f Con joint its 
\Absolute its 










These inflections, as we shall see, are often disregarded in 
use, but nevertheless it is profitable to glance at them as they 


stand. The only variations that they show from standard Eng- 
lish are the substitution of n for s as the distinguishing mark of 
the absolute form of the possessive, and the attempt to differenti- 
ate between the logical and the merely polite plurals in the 
second person by adding the usual sign of the plural to the 
former. The use of n in place of s is not an American innova- 
tion. It is found in many of the dialects of English, and is, in 
fact, historically quite as sound as the use of s. In John Wiclif 's 
translation of the Bible (circa 1380) the first sentence of the 
Sermon on the Mount (Mark v, 3) is made: "Blessed be the 
pore in spirit, for the kyngdam in hevenes is heren." And in 
his version of Luke xxiv, 24, is this: "And some of ouren 
wentin to the grave." Here her en (or herun) represents, of 
course, not the modern hers, but theirs. In Anglo-Saxon the 
word was heora, and down to Chaucer's day a modified form of 
it, here, was still used in the possessive plural in place of the 
modern their, though they had already displaced hie in the 
nominative. 54 But in John Purvey 's revision of the Wiclif 
Bible, made a few years later, hern actually occurs in II Kings 
viii, 6, thus: "Restore thou to hir alle things that ben hern." 
In Anglo-Saxon there had been no distinction between the con- 
joint and absolute forms of the possessive pronouns; the simple 
genitive sufficed for both uses. But with the decay of that lan- 
guage the surviving remnants of its grammar began to be put 
to service somewhat recklessly, and so there arose a genitive 
inflection of this genitive a true double inflection. In the 
Northern dialects of English that inflection was made by simply 
adding s, the sign of the possessive. In the Southern dialects 
the old w-declension was applied, and so there arose such forms 
as minum and eowrum (mine and yours), from min and 
eower (= my and your) . B5 Meanwhile, the original simple gen- 
itive, now become youre, also survived, and so the literature of 

s* Henry Bradley, in The Making of English, pp. 54-5 : "In the parts of 
England which were largely inhabited by Danes the native pronouns (i.e., 
heo, hie, heom and heora) were supplanted by the Scandinavian pronouns 
which are represented by the modern she, they, them and their." This sub- 
stitution, at first dialectical, gradually spread to the whole language. 

55 Cf. Sweet: A New English Grammar, pt. i, p. 344, par. 1096. 


the fourteenth century shows the three forms nourishing side 
by side : youre, youres and youren. All of them are in Chaucer. 

Thus, yourn, hern, hisn, ourn and theirn, whatever their pres- 
ent offense to grammarians, are of a genealogy quite as respec- 
table as that of yours, hers, his, ours and theirs. Both forms 
represent a doubling of inflections, and hence grammatical de- 
basement. On the side of the yours-form is the standard usage 
of the past five hundred years, but on the side of the yourn- 
f orm there is no little force of analogy and logic, as appears on 
turning to mine and thine. In Anglo-Saxon, as we have seen, 
my was mm; in the same way thy was thin. During the de- 
cadence of the language the final n was dropped in both cases 
before nouns that is, in the conjoint form but it was retained 
in the absolute form. This usage survives to our own day. One 
says "my book," but "the book is mine"; "thy faith," but "I 
am thine." 56 Also, one says "no matter," but "I have none." 
Without question this retention of the n in these pronouns had 
something to do with the appearance of the 7i-declension in the 
treatment of your, her, his and our, and, after their had dis- 
placed here in the third person plural, in their. And equally 
without question it supports the vulgar American usage today. 
What that usage shows is simply the strong popular tendency 
to make language as simple and as regular as possible to abol- 
ish subtleties and exceptions. The difference between "his 
book" and "the book is his'n" is exactly that between my and 
mine, they and thine, in the examples just given. "Perhaps it 
would have been better," says Bradley, "if the literary lan- 
guage had accepted hisn, but from some cause it did not do so. ' ' 57 

As for the addition of s to you in the nominative and objec- 
tive of the second person plural, it exhibits no more than an ef- 
fort to give clarity to the logical difference between the true 
plural and the mere polite plural. In several other dialects of 

56 Before a noun beginning with a vowel thine and mine are commonly 
substituted for thy and my, as in "thine eyes" and "mine infirmity." But 
this is solely for the sake of euphony. There is no compensatory use of 
my and thy in the absolute. 

37 The Making of English, p. 58. 


English the same desire has given rise to cognate forms, and there 
are even secondary devices in American. In the South, for ex- 
ample, the true plural is commonly indicated by you-all, which, 
despite a Northern belief to the contrary, is never used in the 
singular by any save the most ignorant. 58 You-all, like yous, 
simply means you-jointly as opposed to the you that means thou. 
Again, there is the form observed in "you can all of you go to 
hell" another plain effort to differentiate between singular and 
plural. The substitution of you for thou goes back to the end 
of the thirteenth century. It appeared in late Latin and in the 
other continental languages as well as in English, and at about 
the same time. In these languages the true singular survives 
alongside the transplanted plural, but English has dropped it 
entirely, save in its poetical and liturgical forms and in a few 
dialects. It passed out of ordinary polite speech before Eliza- 
beth's day. By that time, indeed, its use had acquired an air 
of the offensive, such as it has today, save between intimates or 
to children, in Germany. Thus, at the trial of Sir Walter 
Raleigh in 1603, Sir Edward Coke, then attorney-general, dis- 
played his animosity to Raleigh by addressing him as thou, and 
finally burst into the contemptuous ' ' I thou thee, thou traitor ! ' ' 
And in "Twelfth Night" Sir Toby Belch urges Sir Andrew 
Aguecheek to provoke the disguised Viola to combat by thouing 
her. In our own time, with thou passed out entirely, even as 
a pronoun of contempt, the confusion between you in the plural 
and you in the singular presents plain difficulties to a man of 
limited linguistic resources. He gets around them by setting up 
a distinction that is well supported by logic and analogy. "I 
seen yous" is clearly separated from "I seen you." And in the 
conjoint position "yous guys" is separated from (< you liar." 

So much for the personal pronouns. As we shall see, they are 
used in such a manner that the distinction between the nomina- 
tive and the objective forms, though still existing grammatically, 
has begun to break down. But first it may be well to glance at 
the demonstrative and relative pronouns. Of the former there 

58 Cf. The Dialect of Southeastern Missouri, by D. S. Crumb, Dialect 
Notes, vol. ii, pt. iv, 1903, p. 337. 


are but two in English, this and that, with their plural forms, 
these and those. To them, American adds a third, them, which 
is also the personal pronoun of the third person, objective case. 59 
In addition it has adopted certain adverbial pronouns, this-here, 
these-here, that-there, those-there and them-there, and set up 
inflections of the original demonstratives by analogy with mine, 
hisn and yourn, to wit, thisn, thesen, thatn and thosen. I pre- 
sent some examples of everyday use: 

Them are the kind I like. 

Them men all work here. 

Who is this-here Smith I hear about? 

These-here are mine. 

That-there medicine ain't no good. 

Those-there wops has all took to the woods. 

I wisht I had one of them-there Fords. 

Thisn is better'n thatn. 

I like thesen better'n thosen. 

The origin of the demonstratives of the thisn-group is plain : 
they are degenerate forms of this-one, that-one, etc., just as none 
is a degenerate composition form of no (t} -one. In every case 
of their use that I have observed the simple demonstratives might 
have been set free and one actually substituted for the terminal 
n. But it must be equally obvious that they have been rein- 
forced very greatly by the absolutes of the hisn-group, for in 
their relation to the original demonstratives they play the part 
of just such absolutes and are never used conjointly. Thus, one 
says, in American, "I take thisn" or "thisn is mine," but one 
never says "I take thisn hat" or te thisn dog is mine." In this 
conjoint situation plain this is always used, and the same rule 

39 It occurs, too, of course, in other dialects of English, though by no 
means in all. The Irish influence probably had something to do with 
its prosperity in vulgar American. At all events, the Irish use it in the 
American manner. Joyce, in English As We Speak It in Ireland, pp. 34-5, 
argues that this usage was suggested by Gaelic. In Gaelic the accusative 
pronouns, e, i and iad (=him, her and them) are often used in place of 
the nominatives, se, si and siad (= he, she and they), as in "is iad sin na 
buachaillidhe" ( = them are the boys ) . This is "good grammar" in Gaelic,, 
and the Irish, when they began to learn English, translated the locution 
literally. The familiar Irish "John is dead and him always so hearty" 
shows the same influence. 


applies to these, those and that. Them, being a newcomer among 
the demonstratives, has not yet acquired an inflection in the 
absolute. I have never heard them'n, and it will probably never 
come in, for it is forbiddingly clumsy. One says, in American, 
both "them are mine" and "them collars are mine." 

This-here, these-here, thai-there, those-there and them-there 
are plainly combinations of pronouns and adverbs, and their 
function is to support the distinction between proximity, as em- 
bodied in this and these, and remoteness, as embodied in that, 
those and them. "This-here coat is mine" simply means "this 
coat, here, or this present coat, is mine. ' ' But the adverb prom- 
ises to coalesce with the pronoun so completely as to obliterate all 
sense of its distinct existence, even as a false noun or adjective. 
As commonly pronounced, this-here becomes a single word, some- 
what like thish-yur, and these-here becomes these-yur, and that- 
there and them-there become that-ere and them-ere. Those-there, 
if I observed accurately, is still pronounced more distinctly, but 
it, too, may succumb to composition in time. The adverb will 
then sink to the estate of a mere inflectional particle, as one has 
done in the absolutes of the thisn-group. Them, as a personal 
pronoun in the absolute, of course, is commonly pronounced em, 
as in "I seen em," and sometimes its vowel is almost lost, but 
this is also the case in all save the most exact spoken English. 
Sweet and Lounsbury, following the German grammarians, argue 
that this em is not really a debased form of them, but the off- 
spring of hem, which survived as the regular plural of the third 
person in the objective case down to the beginning of the fif- 
teenth century. But in American them is clearly pronounced 
as a demonstrative. I have never heard "em men" or "em are 
the kind I like," but always "them men" and "them are the 
kind I like." 

The relative pronouns, so far as I have been able to make out, 
are declined as follows: 

Nominative who which what that 

(Conjoint whose whose 

Possessive T ,**.. i. i, 

\Absolute wnosen wnosen 

Objective who which what that 


Two things will be noted in this paradigm. First there is the 
disappearance of whom as the objective form of who, and sec- 
ondly there is the appearance of an inflected form of whose in 
the absolute, by analogy with mine, hisn and thesen. Whom, 
as we have seen, is fast disappearing from standard spoken 
American ; 60 in the vulgar language it is already virtually ex- 
tinct. Not only is who used in such constructions as "who did 
you find there?" where even standard spoken English would 
tolerate it, but also in such constructions as "the man who I 
saw," ''them who I trust in" and "to who?" Krapp explains 
this use of who on the ground that there is a " general feeling, ' ' 
due to the normal word-order in English, that "the word which 
precedes the verb is the subject word, or at least the subject 
form." 01 But this explanation is probably fanciful. Among 
the plain people no such "general feeling" for case exists. Their 
only "general feeling" is a prejudice against case inflections in 
any form whatsoever. They use who in place of whom simply 
because they can discern no logical difference between the sig- 
nificance of the one and the significance of the other. 

Whosen is obviously the offspring of the other absolutes in n. 
In the conjoint relation plain whose is always used, as in "whose 
hat is that?" and "the man whose dog bit me." But in the 
absolute whosen is often substituted, as in "if it ain't hisn, then 
whosen is it ? " The imitation is obvious. There is an analogous 
form of which, to wit, whichn, resting heavily on which one. 
Thus, "whichn do you like?" and "I didn't say whichn" are 
plainly variations of "which one do you like?" and "I didn't 
say which one." That, as we have seen, has a like form, thatn, 
but never, of course, in the relative situation. "I like thatn," 
is familiar, but "the one thatn I like" is never heard. If that, 
as a relative, could be used absolutely, I have no doubt that it 
would change to thatn, as it does as a demonstrative. So with 
what. As things stand, it is sometimes substituted for that, 
as in "them's the kind what I like." Joined to but it can also 
take the place of that in other situations, as in "I don't know 
but what." 

eo Pp. 144-50. ei Modern English, p. 300. 


The substitution of who for whom in the objective case, just 
noticed, is typical of a general movement toward breaking down 
all case distinctions among the pronouns, where they make their 
last stand in English and its dialects. This movement, of course, 
is not peculiar to vulgar American ; nor is it of recent beginning. 
So long ago as the fifteenth century the old clear distinction be- 
tween ye, nominative, and you, objective, disappeared, and today 
the latter is used in both cases. Sweet says that the phonetic 
similarity between ye and thee, the objective form of the true 
second singular, was responsible for this confusion. 62 At the 
start ye actually went over to the objective case, and the usage 
thus established shows itself in such survivors of the period as 
harkee (hark ye) and look ye. In modern spoken English, in- 
deed, you in the objective often has a sound far more like that 
of ye than like that of you, as, for example, in "how do y' do?" 
and in American its vowel takes the neutral form of the e in 
the definite article, and the word becomes a sort of shortened 
yuh. But whenever emphasis is laid upon it, you becomes quite 
distinct, even in American. In "I mean you," for example, 
there is never any chance of mistaking it for ye. 

In Shakespeare's time the other personal pronouns of the 
objective case threatened to follow you into the nominative, and 
there was a compensatory movement of the nominative pronouns 
toward the objective. Lounsbury has collected many examples. 63 
Marlowe used "is it him you seek?" " 'tis her I esteem" and 
"nor thee nor them shall want"; Fletcher used " 'tis her I 
admire"; Shakespeare himself used "that's me." Contrari- 
wise, Webster used "what difference is between the duke and If" 
and Greene used "nor earth nor heaven shall part my love and 
I." Krapp has unearthed many similar examples from the 
Restoration dramatists. 64 Etheredge used " 'tis them," "it 
may be him," "let you and I" and "nor is it me"; Matthew 
Prior, in a famous couplet, achieved this: 

62 A New English Grammar, pt. i, p. 339. 

63 History of the English Language, pp. 274-5. 
* Modern English, p. 288-9. 


For thou art a girl as much brighter than her. 
As he was a poet sublimer than me. 

The free exchange continued, in fact, until the eighteenth 
century was well advanced; there are examples of it in Addi- 
son. Moreover, it survived, at least in part, even the attack 
that was then made upon it by the professors of the new-born 
science of English grammar, and to this day "it is me" is still 
in more or less good colloquial use. Sweet thinks that it is sup- 
ported in such use, though not, of course, grammatically, by the 
analogy of the correct "it is he" and "it is she." Lounsbury, 
following Dean Alford, says it came into English in imitation 
of the French c'est moi, and defends it as at least as good as "it 
is I." 65 The contrary form, "between you and I," has no de- 
fenders, and is apparently going out. But in the shape of "be- 
tween my wife and I" it is seldom challenged, at least in spoken 

All these liberties with the personal pronouns, however, fade 
to insignificance when put beside the thoroughgoing confusion 
of the case forms in vulgar American. "Us fellers" is so far 
established in the language that "we fellers," from the mouth 
of a car conductor, would seem almost an affectation. So, too, 
is "me and her are friends." So, again, are "I seen you and 
her," "her and I set down together," "him and his wife," and 
"I knowed it was her." Here are some other characteristic 
examples of the use of the objective forms in the nominative 
from Charters and Lardner: 

Me and her was both late. 

His brother is taller than him. 

That little boy was me. 

Us girls went home. 

They were John and him. 

Her and little Al is to stay here. 

She says she thinks us and the Aliens. 

If Weaver and them had not of begin kicking. 

But not me. 

Him and I are friends. 

Me and them are friends. 

es Cf. p. 145n. 


Less numerous, but still varied and plentiful, are the substi- 
tutions of nominative forms for objective forms : 

She gave it to mother and I. 

She took all of we children. 

I want you to meet lie and I at 29th street. 

He gave Tie and I both some. 

It is going to cost me $6 a week for a room for she and the baby. 

Anything she has is 0. K. for I and Florrie. 

Here are some grotesque confusions, indeed. Perhaps the best 
way to get at the principles underlying them is to examine first, 
not the cases of their occurrence, but the cases of their non- 
occurrence. Let us begin with the transfer of the objective 
form to the nominative in the subject relation. "Me and her 
was both late" is obviously sound American; one hears it, or 
something like it, on the streets every day. But one never hears 
"me was late" or "her was late" or "us was late" or "him 
was late" or "them was late." Again, one hears "us girls was 
there" but never "us was there." Yet again, one hears "her 
and John was married," but never "her was married." The 
distinction here set up should be immediately plain. It exactly 
parallels that between her and hern, our and ourn, their and 
theirn: the tendency, as Sweet says, is "to merge the distinction 
of nominative and objective in that of conjoint and absolute." 66 
The nominative, in the subject relation, takes the usual nomina- 
tive form only when it is in immediate contact with its verb. 
If it be separated from its verb by a conjunction or any other 
part of speech, even including another pronoun, it takes the 
objective form. Thus "me went home" would strike even the 
most ignorant shopgirl as "bad grammar," but she would use 
"me and my friend went," or "me and him/' or "he and her/' 
or "me and them" without the slightest hesitation. What is 
more, if the separation be effected by a conjunction and another 
pronoun, the other pronoun also changes to the objective form, 
even though its contact with the verb may be immediate. Thus 
one hears "me and her was there," not "me and she"; her and 
him kissed," not "her and he." Still more, this second pro- 

A New English Grammar, pt. i, p. 341. 


noun commonly undergoes the same inflection even when the 
first member of the group is not another pronoun, but a noun. 
Thus one hears "John and her were married," not "John and 
she." To this rule there is but one exception, and that is in the 
case of the first person pronoun, especially in the singular. . 
"Him and me are friends" is heard often, but "him and / are 
friends" is also heard. I seems to suggest the subject very pow- 
erfully; it is actually the subject of perhaps a majority of the 
sentences uttered by an ignorant man. At all events, it resists 
the rule, at least partially, and may even do so when actually 
separated from the verb by another pronoun, itself in the ob- 
jective form, as for example, in "I and him were there." 

In the predicate relation the pronouns respond to a more 
complex regulation. When they follow any form of the simple 
verb of being they take the objective form, as in "it's me," 
"it ain't him," and "I am him," probably because the transi- 
tiveness of this verb exerts a greater pull than its function as 
a mere copula, and perhaps, too, because the passive naturally 
tends to put the speaker in the place of the object. "I seen he" 
or "he kissed she" or "he struck I" would seem as ridiculous 
to an ignorant American as to the Archbishop of Canterbury, 
and his instinct for simplicity and regularity naturally tends 
to make him reduce all similar expressions, or what seem to him 
to be similar expressions, to coincidence with the more seemly 
"I seen him." After all, the verb of being is fundamentally 
transitive, and, in some ways, the most transitive of all verbs, 
and so it is not illogical to bring its powers over the pronoun 
into accord with the powers exerted by the others. I incline to 
think that it is some such subconscious logic, and not the analogy 
of "it is he," as Sweet argues, that has brought "it is me" to 
conversational respectability, even among rather careful speak- 
ers of English. 67 

But against this use of the objective form in the nominative 

e * It may be worth noting here that the misuse of me for my, as in "I 
lit me pipe" is quite unknown in American, either standard or vulgar. 
Even "me own" is seldom heard. This boggling of the cases is very common 
in spoken English. 


position after the verb of being there also occurs in American 
a use of the nominative form in the objective position, as in 
"she gave it to mother and I" and "she took all of we chil- 
dren. ' ' What lies at the bottom of it seems to be a feeling some- 
what resembling that which causes the use of the objective form 
before the verb, but exactly contrary in its effects. That is to 
say, the nominative form is used when the pronoun is separated 
from its governing verb, whether by a noun, a noun-phrase or 
another pronoun, as in "she gave it to mother and I," "she took 
all of we children" and "he paid her and I" respectively. But 
here usage is far from fixed, and one observes variations in both 
directions that is, toward using the correct objective when 
the pronoun is detached from the verb, and toward using the 
nominative even when it directly follows the verb. "She gave 
it to mother and me," "she took all of us children" and "he 
paid her and me" would probably sound quite as correct, to a 
Knight of Pythias, as the forms just given. And at the other 
end Charters and Lardner report such forms as "I want you to 
meet he and I" and "it is going to cost me $6 a week for a 
room for she and the baby." I have noticed, however, that, in 
the overwhelming main, the use of the nominative is confined 
to the pronoun of the first person, and particularly to its singu- 
lar. Here again we have an example of the powerful way in 
which I asserts itself. And superimposed upon that influence 
is a cause mentioned by Sweet in discussing "between you and 
7." 68 It is a sort of by-product of the pedagogical war upon 
"it is me." "As such expressions," he says, "are still de- 
nounced by the grammars, many people try to avoid them in 
speech as well as in writing. The result of this reaction is that 
the me in such constructions as 'between John and me' and 'he 
saw John and me' sounds vulgar and ungrammatical, and is 
consequently corrected into I." Here the pedagogues, seeking 
to impose an inelastic and illogical grammar upon a living 
speech, succeed only in corrupting it still more. 

Following than and as the American uses the objective form 
of the pronoun, as in "he is taller than me" and "such as her." 

sA New English Grammar, pt. i, p. 341. 


He also uses it following like, but not when, as often happens, 
he uses the word in place of as or as if. Thus he says "do it 
like him," but "do it like he does" and "she looks like she was 
sick." What appears here is an instinctive feeling that these 
words, followed by a pronoun only, are not adverbs, but prepo- 
sitions, and that they should have the same power to put the 
pronoun into an oblique case that other prepositions have. Just 
as "the taller of. we" would sound absurd to all of us, so "taller 
than he," to the unschooled American, sounds absurd. This 
feeling has a good deal of respectable support. "As her" was 
used by Swift, "than me" by Burke, and "than whom" by 
Milton. The brothers Fowler show that, in some cases, "than 
him," is grammatically correct and logically necessary. 69 For 
example, compare "I love you more than him" and "I love you 
more than he." The first means "I love you more than (I love) 
him"; the second, "I love you more than he (loves you)." In 
the first him does not refer to I, which is nominative, but to you, 
which is objective, and so it is properly objective also. But the 
American, of course, uses him even when the preceding noun is 
in the nominative, save only when another verb follows the pro- 
noun. Thus, he says, "I love you better than him," but "I 
love you better than he does. ' ' 

In the matter of the reflexive pronouns the American vulgate 
exhibits forms which plainly show that it is the spirit of the 
language to regard self, not as an adjective, which it is his- 
torically, but as a noun. This confusion goes back to Anglo- 
Saxon days; it originated at a time when both the adjectives 
and the nouns were losing their old inflections. Such forms as 
Petrussylf (= Peter's self), Cristsylf (= Christ's self) and 
Icsylf (= /, self) then came into use, and along with them came 
combinations of self and the genitive, still surviving in hisself 
and theirselves (or theirself). Down to the sixteenth century 
these forms remained in perfectly good usage. "Each for his- 
self," for example, was written by Sir Philip Sidney, and is to 
be found in the dramatists of the time, though modern editors 
always change it to himself. How the dative pronoun got itself 

9 The King's English, p. 63. 


fastened upon self in the third person masculine and neuter is 
one of the mysteries of language, but there it is, and so, against 
all logic, history and grammatical regularity, himself, them- 
selves and itself (not its-self) are in favor today. But the 
American, as usual, inclines against these illogical exceptions to 
the rule set by myself. I constantly hear hisself and their- 
selves, as in "he done it hisself" and "they don't know their- 
selves." Sometimes their self is substituted for theirselves, as 
in "they all seen it their self ." Also, the emphatic own is often 
inserted between the pronoun and the noun, as in "let every 
man save his own self. ' ' 

The American pronoun does not necessarily agree with its 
noun in number. I find "I can tell each one what they make," 
"each fellow put their foot on the line," "nobody can do what 
they like" and "she was one of these kind of people" in Char- 
ters, and "I am not the kind of man that is always thinking 
about their record," "if he was to hit a man in the head . . . 
they would think their nose tickled" in Lardner. At the bot- 
tom of this error there is a real difficulty : the lack of a pronoun 
of the true common gender in English, corresponding to the 
French soi and son. His, after a noun or pronoun connoting 
both sexes, often sounds inept, and his-or-her is intolerably 
clumsy. Thus the inaccurate plural is often substituted. The 
brothers Fowler have discovered "anybody else who have only 
themselves in view" in Richardson and "everybody is discon- 
tented with their lot" in Disraeli, and Ruskin once wrote "if a 
customer wishes you to injure their foot." In spoken Amer- 
ican, even the most careful, they and their often appear ; I turn 
to the Congressional Record at random and in two minutes find 
"if anyone will look at the bank statements they will see." 70 
In the lower reaches of the language the plural seems to get into 
every sentence of any complexity, even when the preceding noun 
or pronoun is plainly singular. 

TO "Hon." Edward E. Browne, of Wisconsin, in the House of Representa- 
tives, July 18, 1918, p. 9965. 



The Adverb All the adverbial endings in English, save -ly, 
have gradually fallen into decay; it is the only one that is ever 
used to form new adverbs. At earlier stages of the language 
various other endings were used, and some of them survive in 
a few old words, though they are no longer employed in making 
new words. The Anglo-Saxon endings were -e and -lice. The 
latter was, at first, merely an -e-ending to adjectives in -lie, but 
after a time it attained to independence and was attached to 
adjectives not ending in -lie. In early Middle English this 
-lice changes to -like, and later on to -li and -ly. Meanwhile, 
the -e-ending, following the -e-endings of the nouns, adjectives 
and verbs, ceased to be pronounced, and so it gradually fell away. 
Thus a good many adverbs came to be indistinguishable from 
their ancestral adjectives, for example, hard in to pull hard, 
loud in to speak loud, and deep in to bury deep (= Anglo-Saxon, 
deop-e). Worse, not a few adverbs actually became adjectives, 
for example, wide, which was originally the Anglo-Saxon ad- 
jective wid (=wide) with the adverbial -e-ending, and late, 
which was originally the Anglo-Saxon adjective laet (=slow) 
with the same ending. 

The result of this movement toward identity in form was a 
confusion between the two classes of words, and from the time 
of Chaucer down to the eighteenth century one finds innumer- 
able instances of the use of the simple adjective as an adverb. 
"He will answer trewe" is in Sir Thomas More; "and soft unto 
himself he sayd" in Chaucer; "the singers sang loud" in the 
Revised Version of the Bible (Nehemiah xii, 42), and "indiffer- 
ent well" in Shakespeare. Even after the purists of the eight- 
eenth century began their corrective work this confusion con- 
tinued. Thus, one finds, "the people are miserable poor" in 
Hume, ' ' how unworthy you treated mankind ' ' in The Spectator, 
and "wonderful silly" in Joseph Butler. To this day the gram- 
marians battle with the barbarism, still without complete suc- 
cess; every new volume of rules and regulations for those who 
would speak by the book is full of warnings against it. Among 



the great masses of the plain people, it goes without saying, it 
flourishes unimpeded. The cautions of the school-marm, in a 
matter so subtle and so plainly lacking in logic or necessity, are 
forgotten as quickly as her prohibition of the double negative, 
and thereafter the adjective and the adverb tend more and more 
to coalesce in a part of speech which serves the purposes of both, 
and is simple and intelligible and satisfying. 

Charters gives a number of characteristic examples of its use : 
"wounded very bad," "I sure was stiff," "drank out of a cup 
easy," "he looked up quick." Many more are in Lardner: "a 
chance to see me work regular," "I am glad I was lucky enough 
to marry happy," "I beat them easy," and so on. And others 
fall upon the ear every day: "he done it proper," "he done 
himself proud," "she was dressed neat," "she was awful ugly," 
"the horse ran 0. K.," "it near finished him," "it sells quick," 
"I like it fine," "he et hoggish," "she acted mean," "they 
keep company steady." The bob-tailed adverb, indeed, enters 
into a large number of the commonest coins of vulgar speech. 
Near-silk, I daresay, is properly nearly-silk. The grammarians 
protest that "run slow" should be "run slowly." But near- 
silk and "run slow" remain, and so do "to be in bad," "to play 
it up strong" and their brothers. What we have here is sim- 
ply an incapacity to distinguish any ponderable difference be- 
tween adverb and adjective, and beneath it, perhaps, is the in- 
capacity, already noticed in dealing with "it is me," to distin- 
guish between the common verb of being and any other verb. 
If "it is bad" is correct, then why should "it leaks bad" 
be incorrect? It is just this disdain of purely grammatical 
reasons that is at the bottom of most of the phenomena visible 
in vulgar American, and the same impulse is observable in all 
other languages during periods of inflectional decay. During 
the highly inflected stage of a language the parts of speech are 
sharply distinct, but when inflections fall off they tend to dis- 
appear. The adverb, being at best the step-child of grammar 
as the old Latin grammarians used to say, "Omnis pars orationis 
migrat in adv erbium" is one of the chief victims of this an- 
archy. John Home Tooke, despairing of bringing it to any 


order, even in the most careful English, called it, in his "Epea 
Ptercenta, " "the common sink and repository of all hetero- 
geneous and unknown corruptions." 

Where an obvious logical or lexical distinction has grown up 
between an adverb and its primary adjective the unschooled 
American is very careful to give it its terminal -ly. For exam- 
ple, he seldom confuses hard and hardly, scarce and scarcely, 
real and really. These words convey different ideas. Hard 
means unyielding; hardly means barely. Scarce means present 
only in small numbers; scarcely is substantially synonymous 
with hardly. Real means genuine; really is an assurance of 
veracity. So, again, with late and lately. Thus, an American 
says "I don't know, scarcely," not "I don't know, scarce"; "he 
died lately, "not "he died late." But in nearly all such cases 
syntax is the preservative, not grammar. These adverbs seem 
to keep their tails largely because they are commonly put before 
and not after verbs, as in, for example, "I hardly (or scarcely) 
know, ' ' and ' ' I really mean it. ' ' Many other adverbs that take 
that position habitually are saved as well, for example, gener- 
ally, usually, surely, certainly. But when they follow verbs 
they often succumb, as in "I'll do it sure" and "I seen him 
recent." And when they modif}*- adjectives they sometimes suc- 
cumb, too, as In "it was sure hot." Practically all the adverbs 
made of adjectives in -y lose the terminal -ly and thus become 
identical with their adjectives. I have never heard mightily 
used ; it is always mighty, as in " he hit him mighty hard. ' ' So 
with filthy, dirty, nasty, lowly, naughty and their cognates. 
One hears "he acted dirty," "he spoke nasty," "the child be- 
haved naughty," and so on. Here even standard English has 
had to make concessions to euphony. Cleanlily is seldom used; 
cleanly nearly always takes its place. And the use of illy is 
confined to pedants. 

Vulgar American, like all the higher forms of American and 
all save the most precise form of written English, has aban- 
doned the old inflections of here, there and where, to wit, hither 
and hence, thither and thence, whither and whence. These fossil 
remains of dead cases are fast disappearing from the language. 


In the case of hither (=to here} even the preposition has been 
abandoned. One says, not "I came to here," but simply "I 
came here." In the case of hence, however, from here is still 
used, and so with from there and from where. Finally, it goes 
without saying that the common American tendency to add -s 
to such adverbs as towards is carried to full length in the vulgar 
language. One constantly hears, not only somewheres and for- 
wards, but even noways and anyways. Here we have but one 
more example of the movement toward uniformity and simplicity. 
Anyways is obviously fully supported by sideways and always. 

The Noun and Adjective The only inflections of the noun re- 
maining in English are those for number and for the genitive, and 
so it is in these two regions that the few variations to be noted 
in vulgar American occur. The rule that, in forming the 
plurals of compound nouns or noun-phrases, the -s shall be at- 
tached to the principal noun is commonly disregarded, and it 
goes at the end. Thus, "I have two sons-in-law" is never heard ; 
one always hears "I have two son-in-laws." So with the geni- 
tive. I once overheard this: "that umbrella is the young lady 
I go with's." Often a false singular is formed from a singular 
ending in s, the latter being mistaken for a plural. Chinee, 
Portugee and Japanee are familiar; I have also noted trapee, 
tactic and summon (from trapeze, tactics and summons). Para- 
doxically, the word incidence is commonly misused for incident, 
as in "he told an incidence." Here incidence (or incident) 
seems to be regarded as a synonym, not for happening, but for 
story. I have never heard "he told of an incidence." The of 
is always omitted. The general disregard of number often shows 
itself when the noun is used as object. I have already quoted 
Lardner's "some of the men has brung their wife along"; in 
a popular magazine I lately encountered "those book ethnol- 
ogists . . . can't see what is before their nose." Many similar 
examples might be brought forward. 

The adjectives are inflected only for comparison, and the 


American commonly uses them correctly, with now and then a 
double comparative or superlative to ease his soul. More better 
is the commonest of these. It has a good deal of support in logic. 
A sick man is reported today to be better. Tomorrow he is fur- 
ther improved. Is he to be reported better again, or bestf The 
standard language gets around the difficulty by using still better. 
The American vulgate boldly employs more better. In the case 
of worse, worser is used, as Charters shows. He also reports 
baddest, more queerer and beautifulest. Littler, which he notes, 
is still outlawed from standard English, but it has, with littlest, 
a respectable place in American. The late Richard Harding 
Davis wrote a play called "The Littlest Girl." The American 
freely compares adjectives that are incapable of the inflection 
logically. Charters reports most principal, and I myself have 
heard uniquer and even more uniquer, as in "I have never saw 
nothing more uniquer." I have also heard more ultra, more 
worse, idealer, liver (that is, more alive), and wellest, as in "he 
was the wellest man you ever seen." In general, the -er and 
-est terminations are used instead of the more and most prefixes, 
as in beautiful, beautifuller, beautifullest. The fact that the 
comparative relates to two and the superlative to more than two 
is almost always forgotten. I have never heard "the better of 
the two," but always "the best of the two." Charters also re- 
ports "the hardest of the two" and "my brother and I meas- 
ured and he was the tallest." I have frequently heard "it ain't 
so worse," but here a humorous effect seems to have been in- 

Adjectives are made much less rapidly in American than 
either substantives or verbs. The only suffix that seems to be in 
general use for that purpose is -y, as in tony, classy, daffy, nutty, 
dinky, leery, etc. The use of the adjectival prefix super- is con- 
fined to the more sophisticated classes ; the plain people seem to 
be unaware of it. 71 This relative paucity of adjectives appears 
to be common to the more primitive varieties of speech. E. J. 

T I Cf. Vogue Affixes in Present-Day Word-Coinage, by Louise Pound, 
Dialect Notes, vol. v, pt. i, 1918. 


Hills, in his elaborate study of the vocabulary of a child of two, 72 
found that it contained but 23 descriptive adjectives, of which 
six were the names of colors, as against 59 verbs and 173 com- 
mon nouns. Moreover, most of the 23 minus six were adjectives 
of all work, such as nasty, funny and nice. Colloquial American 
uses the same rubber-stamps of speech. Funny connotes the 
whole range of the unusual ; hard indicates every shade of diffi- 
culty; nice is everything satisfactory; ~bully is a superlative of 
almost limitless scope. 

The decay of one to a vague w-sound, as in this'n, is matched 
by a decay of than after comparatives. Earlier than is seldom 
if ever heard; composition reduces the two words to earlier 'n. 
So with better 'n, faster'n, hotter 'n, deader 'n, etc. Once I over- 
heard the following dialogue : "I like a belt more looser 'n what 
this one is." "Well, then, why don't you unloosen it more'n 
you got it unloosened?" 


The Double Negative Syntactically, perhaps the chief charac- 
teristic of vulgar American is its sturdy fidelity to the double 
negative. So freely is it used, indeed, that the simple negative 
appears to be almost abandoned. Such phrases as "I see no- 
body" or "I know nothing about it" are heard so seldom that 
they appear to be affectations when encountered; the well-nigh 
universal forms are "I don't see nobody" and "I don't know 
nothing about it." Charters lists some very typical examples, 
among them, "he ain't never coming back no more," "you don't 
care for nobody but yourself," "couldn't be no more happier" 
and "I can't see nothing." In Lardner there are innumerable 
examples: "they was not no team," "I have not never thought 
of that," "I can't write no more," "no chance to get no money 
from nowhere," "we can't have nothing to do," and so on. 
Some of his specimens show a considerable complexity, for ex- 

72 The Speech of a Child Two Years of Age, Dialect Notes, vol. iv, pt. ii, 


ample, "Matthewson was not only going as far as the coast," 
meaning, as the context shows, that he was going as far as the 
coast and no further. Only gets into many other examples, e. g., 
"he hadn't only the one pass" and "I don't work nights no 
more, only except Sunday nights." This latter I got from a 
car conductor. Many other curious specimens are in my col- 
lectanea, among them: "one swaller don't make no summer," 
"I never seen nothing I would of rather saw," and "once a 
child gets burnt once it won't never stick its hand in no fire no 
more," and so on. The last embodies a triple negative. In 
"the more faster you go, the sooner you don't get there" there 
is an elaborate muddling of negatives that is very characteristic. 
Like most other examples of "bad grammar" encountered 
in American the compound negative is of great antiquity and 
was once quite respectable. The student of Anglo-Saxon en- 
counters it constantly. In that language the negative of the 
verb was formed by prefixing a particle, ne. Thus, singan (= to 
sing) became ne singan (=not to sing). In case the verb began 
with a vowel the ne dropped its e and was combined with the 
verb, as in naefre (never), from ne-aefre (not ever). In 
case the verb began with an h or a w followed by a vowel, the h 
or w of the verb and the e of ne were both dropped, as in naefth 
(=has not), from ne-haefth (=not has), and nolde (= would 
not), from ne-wolde. Finally, in case the vowel following a w 
was an i, it changed to y, as in nyste (knew not), from ne- 
wiste. But inasmuch as Anglo-Saxon was a fully inflected lan- 
guage the inflections for the negative did not stop with the 
verbs; the indefinite article, the indefinite pronoun and even 
some of the nouns were also inflected, and survivors of those 
forms appear to this day in such words as none and nothing. 
Moreover, when an actual inflection was impossible it was the 
practise to insert this ne before a word, in the sense of our no 
or not. Still more, it came to be the practise to reinforce ne, 
before a vowel, with na (=not) or naht (= nothing), which 
later degenerated to nat and not. As a result, there were fear- 
ful and wonderful combinations of negatives, some of them fully 
matching the best efforts of Lardner's baseball player. Sweet 


gives several curious examples. 73 "Nan ne dorste nan thing 
ascian," translated literally, becomes "no one dares not ask noth- 
ing." "Thaet hus na ne feoll" becomes "the house did not 
fall not." As for the Middle English "he never nadde noth- 
ing," it has too modern and familiar a ring to need translating 
at all. Chaucer, at the beginning of the period of transition to 
Modern English, used the double negative with the utmost free- 
dom. In ' ' The Knight 's Tale " is this : 

He nevere yet no vileynye ne sayde 
In al his lyf unto no maner wight. 

By the time of Shakespeare this license was already much re- 
stricted, but a good many double negatives are nevertheless to 
be found in his plays, and he was particularly shaky in the use 
of nor. In "Richard III" one finds "I never was nor never 
will be"; in "Measure for Measure," "harp not on that nor do 
not banish treason," and in "Romeo and Juliet," "thou ex- 
pectedst not, nor I looked not for." This misuse of nor is still 
very frequent. In other directions, too, the older forms show 
a tendency to survive all the assaults of grammarians. "No it 
doesn't/' heard every day and by no means from the ignorant 
only, is a sort of double negative. The insertion of but before 
that, as in "I doubt but that" and "there is no question but 
that," makes a double negative that is probably full-blown. 
Nevertheless, as we have seen, it is heard on the floor of Con- 
gress every day, and the Fowlers show that it is also common in 
England. 74 Even worse forms get into the Congressional Record. 
Not long ago, for example, I encountered "without hardly an 
exception" in a public paper of the utmost importance. 75 There 
are, indeed, situations in which the double negative leaps to the 
lips or from the pen almost irresistibly ; even such careful writ- 
ers as Huxley, Robert Louis Stevenson and Leslie Stephen have 

73 A New English Grammar, pt. i, pp. 437-8. 

T* The King's English, p. 322. See especially the quotation from Fred- 
erick Greenwood, the distinguished English journalist. 

75 Report of Edward J. Brundage, attorney-general of Illinois, on the 
East St. Louis massacre, Congressional Record, Jan. 7, 1918, p. 661. 


occasionally dallied with it. 76 It is perfectly allowable in the 
Romance languages, and, as we have seen, is almost the rule in 
the American vulgate. Now and then some anarchistic student 
of the language boldly defends and even advocates it. "The 
double negative," said a writer in the London Review a long 
time ago, 77 ' ' has been abandoned to the great injury of strength 
of expression." Surely "I won't take nothing" is stronger 
than either "I will take nothing" or "I won't take anything." 

"Language begins," says Sayce, "with sentences, not with 
single words." In a speech in process of rapid development, 
unrestrained by critical analysis, the tendency to sacrifice the 
integrity of words to the needs of the complete sentence is espe- 
cially marked. One finds it clearly in American. Already we 
have examined various assimilation and composition forms: 
that'n, use' to, would' a, them 'ere and so on. Many others are ob- 
servable. Off'n is a good example ; it comes from off of and shows 
a preposition decaying to the form of a mere inflectional particle. 
One constantly hears "I bought it off'n John." Sort 'a, kind 'a 
and their like follow in the footsteps of would' a. Usen't follows 
the analogy of don't and wouldn't. Would 've and should 've 
are widely used ; Lardner commonly hears them as would of and 
should of. The neutral o-particle also appears in other situa- 
tions, especially before way, as in that 'a way and this' a way. 
It is found again in a tall, a liaison form of at. all. 


Pronunciation Before anything approaching a thorough and 
profitable study of the sounds of the American common speech 
is possible, there must be a careful assembling of the materials, 
and this, unfortunately, still awaits a philologist of sufficient en- 
terprise and equipment. Dr. William A. Read, of the State 
University of Louisiana, has made some excellent examinations 

76 The King's English, op. cit. 
"Oct. 1, 1864. 

78 At all, by the way, is often displaced by any or none, as in "he don't 
lover her any" and "it didn't hurt me none." 


of vowel and consonant sounds in the South, Dr. Louise Pound 
has done capital work of the same sort in the Middle West, 79 
and there have been other regional studies of merit. But most 
of these become misleading by reason of their lack of scope; 
forms practically universal in the nation are discussed as dia- 
lectical variations. This is the central defect in the work of 
the American Dialect Society, otherwise very industrious and 
meritorious. It is essaying to study localisms before having first 
platted the characteristics of the general speech. The diction- 
aries of Americanisms deal with pronunciation only casually, 
and often very inaccurately; the remaining literature is meagre 
and unsatisfactory. 80 Until the matter is gone into at length it 
will be impossible to discuss any phase of it with exactness. No 
single investigator can examine the speech of the whole coun- 
try; for that business a pooling of forces is necessary. But 
meanwhile it may be of interest to set forth a few provisional 

At the start two streams of influence upon American pronun- 
ciation may be noted, the one an inheritance from the English 
of the colonists and the other arising spontaneously within the 
country, and apparently much colored by immigration. The 
first influence, it goes without saying, is gradually dying out. 
Consider, for example, the pronunciation of the diphthong oi. 
In Middle English it was as in 'boy, but during the early Mod- 
ern English period it was assimilated with that of the i in wine, 
and this usage prevailed at the time of the settlement of Amer- 
ica. The colonists thus brought it with them, and at the same 
time it lodged in Ireland, where it still prevails. But in Eng- 
land, during the pedantic eighteenth century, this i-sound was 
displaced by the original w-sound, not by historical research but 
by mere deduction from the spelling, and the new pronunciation 
soon extended to the polite speech of America. In the common 
speech, however, the i-sound persisted, and down to the time of 

See the bibliography for the publication of Drs. Read and Pound. 

so The only book that I can find definitely devoted to American sounds is 
A Handbook of American Speech, by Calvin L. Lewis; Chicago, 1916. It 
has many demerits. For example, the author gives a z-sound to the in 
venison (p. 52). This is surely not American. 


the Civil "War it was constantly heard in such words as boil, 
hoist, oil, join, poison and roil, which thus became bile, hist, He, 
jine, pisen and rile. Since then the school-marm has combatted 
it with such vigor that it has begun to disappear, and such forms 
as pisen, jine, bile and He are now very seldom heard, save as 
dialectic variations. But in certain other words, perhaps sup- 
ported by Irish influence, the i-sound still persists. Chief 
among them are hoist and roil. An unlearned American, wish- 
ing to say that he was enraged, never says that he was roiled, 
but always that he was riled. Desiring to examine the hoof of 
his horse, he never orders the animal to hoist but always to hist. 
In the form of booze-hister, the latter is almost in good usage. 
I have seen booze-hister thus spelled and obviously to be thus 
pronounced, in an editorial article in the American Issue, organ 
of the Anti-Saloon League of America. 81 

Various similar misplaced vowels were brought from Eng- 
land by the colonists and have persisted in America, while dying 
out of good England usage. There is, for example, short i in 
place of long e, as in critter for creature. Critter is common to 
almost all the dialects of English, but American has embedded 
the vowel in a word that is met with nowhere else and has thus 
become characteristic, to wit, crick for creek. Nor does any 
other dialect make such extensive use of slick for sleek. Again, 
there is the substitution of the flat a for the broad a in sauce. 
England has gone back to the broad a, but in America the flat a 
persists, and many Americans who use sassy every day would 
scarcely recognize saucy if they heard it. Yet again, there is 
quoit. Originally, the English pronounced it quote, but now 
they pronounce the diphthong as in doily. In the United States 
the quate pronunciation remains. Finally, there is deaf. Its 
proper pronunciation, in the England that the colonists left, 
was deef, but it now rhymes with Jeff. That new pronuncia- 
tion has been adopted by polite American, despite the protests 
of Noah "Webster, but in the common speech the word is still 
always deef. 

However, a good many of the vowels of the early days have 

si Maryland edition, July 18, 1914, p. 1. 


succumbed to pedagogy. The American proletarian may still 
use sheer for scare, but in most of the other words of that class 
he now uses the vowel approved by correct English usage. Thus 
he seldom permits himself such old forms as dreen for drain, 
keer for care, skeerce for scarce or even cheer for chair. The 
Irish influence supported them for a while, but now they are 
fast going out. So, too, are kivver for cover, crap for crop, 
and chist for chest. But kittle for kettle still shows a certain 
vitality, rench is still used in place of rinse, and squinch in place 
of squint, and a flat a continues to displace various e-sounds in 
such words as rare for rear (e. g., as a horse) and wrassle for 
wrestle. Contrariwise, e displaces a in catch and radish, which 
are commonly pronounced ketch and reddish. This e-sound was 
once accepted in standard English; when it got into spoken 
American it was perfectly sound ; one still hears it from the most 
pedantic lips in any. 82 There are also certain other ancients 
that show equally unbroken vitality among us, for example, 
stomp for stamp,* 3 snoot for snout, guardeen for guardian, and 
champeen for champion. 

But all these vowels, whether approved or disapproved, have 
been under the pressure, for the past century, of a movement 
toward a general vowel neutralization, and in the long run it 
promises to dispose of many of them. The same movement also 
affects standard English, as appears by Robert Bridges' "Tract 
on the Present State of English Pronunciation," but I believe 
that it is stronger in America, and will go farther, at least with 
the common speech, if only because of our unparalleled immigra- 
tion. Standard English has 19 separate vowel sounds. No 
other living tongue of Europe, save Portuguese, has so many; 
most of the others have a good many less; Modern Greek has 
but five. The immigrant, facing all these vowels, finds some 
of them quite impossible; the Russian Jew, as we have seen, 
cannot manage ur. As a result, he tends to employ a neutralized 

82 Cf. Lounsbury: The Standard of Pronunciation in English, p. 172 
et seq. 

sz Stomp is used only in the sense of to stamp with the foot. One al- 
ways stamps a letter. An analogue of ttomp, accepted in correct English, 
ii strop (e. g., razor-strop ) , from strap. 


vowel in all the situations which present difficulties, and this 
neutralized vowel, supported by the slip-shod speech-habits of 
the native proletariat, makes steady progress. It appears in 
many of the forms that we have been examining in the final a 
of would' a, vaguely before the n in this'n and off'n, in place of 
the original d in use' to, and in the common pronunciation of 
such words as been, come and have, particularly when they are 
sacrificed to sentence exigencies, as in "I b'n thinking," "c'm 
'ere," and "he would 've saw you." 

Here we are upon a wearing down process that shows many 
other symptoms. One finds, not only vowels disorganized, but 
also consonants. Some are displaced by other consonants, meas- 
urably more facile ; others are dropped altogether. D becomes t, 
as in holt, or is dropped, as in tole, han'kerchief, bran-new and 
fine (for find). In ast (for ask) t replaces k: when the same 
word is used in place of asked, as often happens, e. g., in "I ast 
him his name," it shoulders out ked. It is itself lopped off in 
bankrup, quan'ity, crep, slep, wep, kep, gris'-mill and les 
(= let's = let us), and is replaced by d in kindergarden and 
pardner. L disappears, as in a'ready and gent 'man. S becomes 
tsh, as in pincers. The same tsh replaces c, as in pitcher for 
picture, and t, as in amachoor. G disappears from the ends of 
words, and sometimes, too, in the middle, as in stren'th and 
reco'nize. R, though it is better preserved in American than 
in English, is also under pressure, as appears by bust, stuck on 
(for struck on), cuss (for curse), yestiddy, sa's'parella, pa'- 
tridge, ca'tridge, they is (for there is) and Sadd'y (for Satur- 
day). An excrescent t survives in a number of words, e. g., 
onc't, twic't, clos't, wisht (for wish) and chanc't; it is an heir- 
loom from the English of two centuries ago. So is the final h 
in heighth. An excrescent b, as in chimbley and fambly, seems 
to be native. Whole syllables are dropped out of words, parallel- 
ing the English butchery of extraordinary; for example, in 
bound'ry, hist'ry, lib'ry and prob'ly. Ordinary, like extraordi- 
nary, is commonly enunciated clearly, but it has bred a degener- 
ated form, onry or onery, differentiated in meaning. Conso- 
nants are misplaced by metathesis, as in prespiration, hunderd, 


brethern, childern, interduce, apern, calvary, govrenment, 
modren and wosterd (for worsted). Ow is changed to er, as in 
feller, swatter, yeller, better, umbreller and holler; ice is changed 
to ers in jaunders. Words are given new syllables, as in ettum, 
mischievious and municipial. 

In the complete sentence, assimilation makes this disorganiza- 
tion much more obvious. Mearns, in a brief article 8 * gives many 
examples of the extent to which it is carried. He hears "wah 
zee say?" for "what does he say?" "ware zee?" for "where 
is he?" "ast 'er in" for "ask her in," "itt'm owd" for "hit 
them out," "sry" for "that is right," and "c'meer" for "come 
here." He believes that t is gradually succumbing to d, and 
cites "ass bedder" (for "that's better"), "wen juh ged din?" 
(for "when did you get in?"), and "siddup" (for "sit up"). 
One hears countless other such decayed forms on the street every 
day. Have to is almost invariably made hafta, with the neutral 
vowel where I have put the second a. Let's, already noticed, is 
le' 's. The neutral vowel replaces the oo of good in g'by. 
"What did you say" reduces itself to "wuz ay?" Maybe is 
mebby, perhaps is p'raps, so long is s'long, excuse me is skus me; 
the common salutation, ' ' How are you ? " is so dismembered that 
it finally emerges as a word almost indistinguishable from high. 
Here there is room for inquiry, and that inquiry deserves the 
best effort of American phonologists, for the language is under- 
going rapid changes under their very eyes, or, perhaps more 
accurately, under their very ears, and a study of those changes 
should yield a great deal of interesting matter. How did the 
word stint, on American lips, first convert itself into stent and 
then into stunt f By what process was baulk changed into buck f 
Both stunt and buck are among the commonest words in the 
everyday American vocabulary, and yet no one, so far, has in- 
vestigated them scientifically. 

A by-way that is yet to be so much as entered is that of nat- 
uralized loan-words in the common speech. A very character- 
istic word of that sort is sashay. Its relationship to the French 
chasse seems to be plain, and yet it has acquired meanings in 

s* Our Own, Our Native Speech, McClure's Magazine, Oct., 1916. 


American that differ very widely from the meaning of chasse. 
How widely it is dispersed may be seen by the fact that it is re- 
ported in popular use, as a verb signifying to prance or to walk 
consciously, in Southeastern Missouri, Nebraska, Northwestern 
Arkansas, Eastern Alabama and Western Indiana, and, with 
slightly different meaning, on Cape Cod. The travels of cafe 
in America would repay investigation; particularly its varia- 
tions in pronunciation. I believe that it is fast becoming kaif. 
Plaza, boulevard, vaudeville, menu and rathskeller have entered 
into the common speech of the land, and are pronounced as Amer- 
ican words. Such words, when they come in verbally, by actual 
contact with immigrants, commonly retain some measure of their 
correct native pronunciation. Spiel, kosher, ganof and matzoh 
are examples; their vowels remain un-American. But words 
that come in visually, say through street-signs and the news- 
papers, are immediately overhauled and have thoroughly Amer- 
icanized vowels and consonants thereafter. School-teachers have 
been trying to establish various pseudo-French pronunciations 
of vase for fifty years past, but it still rhymes with face in the 
vulgate. Vaudeville is vawd-vill; boulevard has a hard d at the 
end; plaza has two flat a's; the first syllable of menu rhymes 
with bee; the first of rathskeller with cats; fiancee is fy-ance-y; 
nee rhymes with see; decollete is de-coll-ty; hofbrdu is huffbrow; 
the German w has lost its v-sound and becomes an American w. 
I have, in my day, heard proteege for protege, habichoo for 
habitue, connisoor for connisseur, shirtso for scherzo, premeer 
for premiere, eetood for etude and prelood for prelude. Divorcee 
is divorcey, and has all the rakishness of the adjectives in -y. 
The first syllable of mayonnaise rhymes with hay. Creme de 
menthe is cream de mint. Schweizer is swite-ser. Rochefort is 
roke-fort. I have heard debut with the last syllable rhyming 
with nut. I have heard minoot for minuet. I have heard tchef 
doover for chef d'ceuvre. And who doesn't remember 

As I walked along the Boys Boo-long 
With an independent air 



Say aw re-vore, 
But not good-by! 

Charles James Fox, it is said, called the red wine of France 
Bordox to the end of his days. He had an American heart ; his 
great speeches for the revolting colonies were more than mere 


Differences in Spelling 


Typical Forms Some of the salient differences between Amer- 
ican and English spelling are shown in the following list of com- 
mon words : 

annex (noun) 

balk (verb) 
bark (ship) 
burden (ship's) 

check (bank) 

closure l 

i Fowler & Fowler, in The King's English, p. 23, say that "when it 
was proposed to borrow from France what we [i. e., the English] now know 






draft (ship's) 
dreadn aught 



font (printer's) 

form (printer's) 

gantlet (to run the ) 








































as the closure, it seemed certain for some time that with the thing we 
should borrow the name, cldture; a press campaign resulted in closure." 
But in the Congressional Record it is still cloture, though with the loss 
of the circumflex accent, and this form is generally retained by American 




u indorse 


jimmy (burglar's) 



net (adj.) 

peas (plu. of pea) 
picket (military) 








show (verb) 

















































slug (verb) 

story (of a house) 

tire (noun) 

vise (a tool) 























General Tendencies This list is by no means exhaustive. 
According to a recent writer upon the subject, "there are 812 
words in which the prevailing American spelling differs from 
the English. ' ' 2 But enough examples are given to reveal a 
number of definite tendencies. American, in general, moves to- 
ward simplified forms of spelling more rapidly than English, 
and has got much further along the road. Redundant and un- 
necessary letters have been dropped from whole groups of words 
the u from the group of nouns in -our, with the sole exception 
of Saviour, and from such words as mould and baulk; the e from 
annexe, asphalte, axe, forme, pease, storey, etc.; the duplicate 
consonant from waggon, nett, faggot, woollen, jeweller, coun- 
cillor, etc., and the silent foreign suffixes from toilette, epaulette, 
programme, verandah, etc. In addition, simple vowels have been 
substituted for degenerated diphthongs in such words as anaemia, 

2 Richard P. Read: The American Language, New York Sun, March 7, 


oesophagus, diarrhoea and mediaeval, most of them from the 

Further attempts in the same direction are to be seen in the 
substitution of simple consonants for compound consonants, as 
in plow, bark, check, vial and draft; in the substitution of i for y 
to bring words into harmony with analogues, as in tire, cider 
and baritone (cf. wire, rider, merriment), and in the general 
tendency to get rid of the somewhat uneuphonious y, as in ataxia 
and pajamas. Clarity and simplicity are also served by sub- 
stituting ct for x in such words as connection and inflection, and 
s for c in words of the defense group. The superiority of jail 
to gaol is made manifest by the common mispronunciation of the 
latter, making it rhyme with coal. The substitution of i for e 
in such words as indorse, inclose and jimmy is of less patent 
utility, but even here there is probably a slight gain in euphony. 
Of more obscure origin is what seems to be a tendency to avoid 
the o-sound, so that the English slog becomes slug, podgy becomes 
pudgy, nought becomes naught, slosh becomes slush, toffy be- 
comes taffy, and so on. Other changes carry their own justifica- 
tion. Hostler is obviously better American than ostler, though 
it may be worse English. Show is more logical than shew. 3 
Cozy is more nearly phonetic than cosy. Curb has analogues in 
curtain, curdle, curfew, curl, currant, curry, curve, curtsey, 
curse, currency, cursory, curtail, cur, curt and many other com- 
mon words: kerb has very few, and of them only kerchief and 
kernel are in general use. Moreover, the English themselves 
use curb as a verb and in all noun senses save that shown in 

But a number of anomalies remain. The American substitu- 
tion of a for e in gray is not easily explained, nor is the sub- 
stitution of k for c in skeptic and mollusk, nor the retention of 
e in forego, nor the unphonetic substitution of s for z in fuse, 

s To shew has completely disappeared from American, but it still survives 
in English usage. Cf. The 8hewing-\Jp of Blanco Posnet, by George Ber- 
nard Shaw. The word, of course, is pronounced show, not shoe. Shrew, a 
cognate word, still retains the early pronunciation of shrow in English, 
but is now phonetic in American. 


nor the persistence of the first y in pygmy. Here we have plain 
vagaries, surviving in spite of attack by orthographers. Web- 
ster, in one of his earlier books, denounced the k in skeptic as 
"a mere pedantry," but later on he adopted it. In the same 
way pygmy, gray and mollusk have been attacked, but they still 
remain sound American. The English themselves have many 
more such illogical forms to account for. In the midst of the 
our-words they cling to a small number in or, among them, 
stupor. Moreover, they drop the u in many derivatives, for 
example, in arboreal, armory, clamorously, clangorous, odorifer- 
ous, humorist, laborious and rigorism. If it were dropped in 
all derivatives the rule would be easy to remember, but it is re- 
tained in some of them, for example, colourable, favourite, mis- 
demeanour, coloured and labourer. The derivatives of honour 
exhibit the confusion clearly. Honorary, honorarium and hon- 
orific drop the u, but honourable retains it. Furthermore, the 
English make a distinction between two senses of rigor. When 
used in its pathological sense (not only in the Latin form of 
rigor mortis, but as an English word) it drops the u; in all other 
senses it retains the u. The one American anomaly in this field 
is Saviour. In its theological sense it retains the u; but in that 
sense only. A jipilor who saves his ship is its savior, not its 


The Influence of Webster At the time of the first settlement 
of America the rules of English orthography were beautifully 
vague, and so we find the early documents full of spellings that 
would give an English lexicographer much pain today. Now 
and then a curious foreshadowing of later American usage is 
encountered. On July 4, 1631, for example, John Winthrop 
wrote in his journal that "the governour built a bark at Mistick, 
which was launched this day. ' ' But during the eighteenth cen- 
tury, and especially after the publication of Johnson's diction- 
ary, there was a general movement in England toward a more 
inflexible orthography, and many hard and fast rules, still sur- 
viving, were then laid down. It was Johnson himself who es- 


tablished the position of the u in the our words. Bailey, Dyche 
and the other lexicographers before him were divided and un- 
certain ; Johnson declared for the u, and though his reasons were 
very shaky 4 and he often neglected his own precept, his author- 
ity was sufficient to set up a usage which still defies attack in 
England. Even in America this usage was not often brought 
into question until the last quarter of the eighteenth century. 
True enough, honor appears in the Declaration of Independence, 
but it seems to have got there rather by accident than by design. 
In Jefferson's original draft it is spelled honour. So early as 
1768 Benjamin Franklin had published his "Scheme for a New 
Alphabet and a Reformed Mode of Spelling, with Remarks and 
Examples Concerning the Same, and an Enquiry Into its Uses" 
and induced a Philadelphia typefounder to cut type for it, but 
this scheme was too extravagant to be adopted anywhere, or to 
have any appreciable influence upon spelling. 5 
It was Noah Webster who finally achieved the divorce between 
English example and American practise. He struck the first 
blow in his "Grammatical Institute of the English Language," 
published at Hartford in 1783. Attached to this work was an 
appendix bearing the formidable title of "An Essay on the 
Necessity, Advantages and Practicability of Reforming the 
Mode of Spelling, and of Rendering the Orthography of Words 
Correspondent to the Pronunciation," and during the same 
year, at Boston, he set forth his ideas a second time in the first 
edition of his ' ' American Spelling Book. ' ' The influence of this 
spelling book was immediate and profound. It took tne place 
in the schools of Dilworth's "Aby-sel-pha," the favorite of the 
generation preceding, and maintained its authority for fully a 
century. Until Lyman Cobb entered the lists with his "New 
Spelling Book," in 1842, its innumerable editions scarcely had 

* Cf. Lounsbury; English Spelling and Spelling Reform; p. 209 et seq. 
Johnson even advocated translatour, emperour, oratour and horrour. But, 
like most other lexicographers, he was often inconsistent, and the conflict 
between interiour and exterior, and anteriour and posterior, in his diction- 
ary, laid him open to much mocking criticism. 

s In a letter to Miss Stephenson, Sept. 20, 1768, he exhibited the use of 
his new alphabet. The letter is to be found in most editions of his writings. 


any rivalry, and even then it held its own. I have a New York 
edition, dated 1848, which contains an advertisement stating 
that the annual sale at that time was more than a million copies, 
and that more than 30,000,000 copies had been sold since 1783. 
In the late 40 's the publishers, George F. Cooledge & Bro., de- 
voted the whole capacity of the fastest steam press in the United 
States to the printing of it. This press turned out 525 copies 
an hour, or 5,250 a day. It was "constructed expressly for 
printing Webster's Elementary Spelling Book [the name had 
been changed in 1829] at an expense of $5,000." Down to 
1889, 62,000,000 copies of the book had been sold. 
O The appearance of Webster's first dictionary, in 1806, greatly 
strengthened his influence. The best dictionary available to 
Americans before this was Johnson's in its various incarnations, 
but against Johnson's stood a good deal of animosity to its com- 
piler, whose implacable hatred of all things American was well 
known to the citizens of the new republic. John Walker's dic- 
tionary, issued in London in 1791, was also in use, but not ex- 
tensively. A home-made school dictionary, issued at New Ha- 
ven in 1798 or 1799 by one Samuel Johnson, Jr. apparently no 
relative of the great Sam and a larger work published a year 
later by Johnson and the Rev. John Elliott, pastor in East Guil- 
ford, Conn., seem to have made no impression, despite the fact 
that the latter was commended by Simeon Baldwin, Chauncey 
Goodrich and other magnificoes of the time and place, and even 
by Webster himself. The field was thus open to the laborious 
and truculent Noah. He was already the acknowledged magister 
of lexicography in America, and there was an active public de- 
mand for a dictionary that should be wholly American. The 
appearance of his first duodecimo, according to Williams, 6 
thereby took on something of the character of a national event. 
It was received, not critically, but patriotically, and its imper- 
fections were swallowed as eagerly as its merits. Later on Web- 
ster had to meet formidable critics, at home as well as abroad, 
but for nearly a quarter of a century he reigned almost unchal- 
lenged. Edition after edition of his dictionary was published, 
eR. C. Williams: Our Dictionaries; New York, 1890, p. 30. 


each new one showing additions and improvements. Finally, in 
1828, he printed his great " American Dictionary of the English 
Language," in two large octavo volumes. It held the field for 
half a century, not only against Worcester and the other Amer- 
ican lexicographers who followed him, but also against the best 
dictionaries produced in England. Until very lately, indeed, 
America remained ahead of England in practical dictionary mak- 

Webster had declared boldly for simpler spellings in his early 
spelling books; in his dictionary of 1806 he made an assault at 
all arms upon some of the dearest prejudices of English lexicog- 
raphers. Grounding his wholesale reforms upon a saying by 
Franklin, that "those people spell best who do not know how 
to spell" i. e., who spell phonetically and logically he made 
an almost complete sweep of whole classes of silent letters the 
u in the -our words, the final e in determine and requisite, the 
silent a in thread, feather and steady, the silent b in thumb, the 
s in island, the o in leopard, and the redundant consonants in 
traveler, wagon, jeweler, etc. (English: traveller, waggon, jew- 
eller). More, he lopped the final k from frolick, physick and 
their analogues. Yet more, he transposed the e and the r in all 
words ending in re, such as theatre, lustre, centre and calibre. 
Yet more, he changed the c in all words of the defence class to s. 
Yet more, he changed ph to / in words of the phantcfm class, 
ou to oo in words of the group class, ow to ou in crowd, porpoise 
to porpess, acre to aker, sew to soe, woe to wo, soot to sut, gaol 
to jail, and plough to plow. Finally, he antedated the simpli- 
fied spellers by inventing a long list of boldly phonetic spellings, 
ranging from tung for tongue to wimmen for women, and from 
hainous for heinous to cag for keg. 

A good many of these new spellings, of course, were not 
actually Webster's inventions. For example, the change from 
-our to -or in words of the honor class was a mere echo of an 
earlier English usage, or, more accurately, of an earlier English 
uncertainty. In the first three folios of Shakespeare, 1623, 1632 
and 1663-6, honor and honour were used indiscriminately and 
in almost equal proportions ; English spelling was still fluid, and 


the -owr-form was not consistently adopted until the fourth folio 
of 1685. Moreover, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism," 
is authority for the statement that the -or-form was "a fashion- 
able impropriety" in England in 1791. But the great author- 
ity of Johnson stood against it, and Webster was surely not one 
to imitate fashionable improprieties. He deleted the u for 
purely etymological reasons, going back to the Latin honor, favor 
and odor without taking account of the intermediate French 
honneur, faveur and odeur. And where no etymological rea- 
sons presented themselves, he made his changes by analogy and 
for the sake of uniformity, or for euphony or simplicity, or be- 
cause it pleased him, one guesses, to stir up the academic animals. 
Webster, in fact, delighted in controversy, and was anything but 
free from the national yearning to make a sensation. 

A great many of his innovations, of course, failed to take root, 
and in the course of time he abandoned some of them himself. 
In his early ' ' Essay on the Necessity, Advantage and Practicabil- 
ity of Reforming the Mode of Spelling" he advocated reforms 
which were already discarded by the time he published the first 
edition of his dictionary. Among them were the dropping of 
the silent letter in such words as head, give, built and realm, 
making them hed, giv, bilt and relm; the substitution of doubled 
vowels for decayed diphthongs in such words as mean, zeal and 
near, making them meen, zeel and neer; and the substitution of 
sh for ch in such French loan-words as machine and chevalier, 
making them macheen and shevaleer. He also declared for stile 
in place of style, and for many other such changes, and then 
quietly abandoned them. The successive editions of his diction- 
ary show still further concessions. Croud, f ether, groop, gillotin, 
iland, insted, leperd, soe, sut, steddy, thret, thred, thum and 
wimmen appear only in the 1806 edition. In 1828 he went back 
to crowd, feather, group, island, instead, leopard, sew, soot, 
steady, thread, threat, thumb and women, and changed gillotin 
to guillotin. In addition, he restored the final e in determine, 
discipline, requisite, imagine, etc. In 1838, revising his dic- 
tionary, he abandoned a good many spellings that had appeared 
in either the 1806 or the 1828 edition, notably maiz for maize, 


suveran for sovereign and guillotin for guillotine. But he stuck 
manfully to a number that were quite as revolutionary for ex- 
ample, aker for acre, cag for keg, grotesk for grotesque, hainous 
for heinous, porpess for porpoise and tung for tongue and they 
did not begin to disappear until the edition of 1854, issued by 
other hands and eleven years after his death. Three of his fa- 
vorites, chimist for chemist, neger for negro and zeber for zebra, 
are incidentally interesting as showing changes in American pro- 
nunciation. He abandoned zeber in 1828, but remained faith- 
ful to chimist and neger to the last. 

But though he was thus forced to give occasional ground, and 
in more than one case held out in vain, Webster lived to see the 
majority of his reforms adopted by his countrymen. He left 
the ending in -or triumphant over the ending in -our, he shook 
the security of the ending in -re, he rid American spelling of a 
great many doubled consonants, he established the s in words of 
the defense group, and he gave currency to many characteristic 
American spellings, notably jail, wagon, plow, mold and ax. 
These spellings still survive, and are practically universal in the 
United States today ; their use constitutes one of the most obvi- 
ous differences between written English and written American. 
Moreover, they have founded a general tendency, the effects of 
which reach far beyond the field actually traversed by Webster 
himself. New words, and particularly loan-words, are simpli- 
fied, and hence naturalized in American much more quickly than 
in English. Employe has long since become employee in our 
newspapers, and asphalte has lost its final e, and manoeuvre has 
become maneuver, and pyjamas has become pajamas. Even the 
terminology of science is simplified and Americanized. In medi- 
cine, for example, the highest American usage countenances many 
forms which would seem barbarisms to an English medical man if 
he encountered them in the Lancet. In derivatives of the Greek 
haima it is the almost invariable American custom to spell the 
root syllable hem, but the more conservative English make it 
haem e. g., in haemorrhage and haemiplegia. In an exhaustive 
list of diseases issued by the United States Public Health Serv- 


ice 7 the haem-form does not appear once. In the same way 
American usage prefers esophagus, diarrhea and gonorrhea to 
the English oesophagus, diarrhoea and gonorrhoea. In the style- 
book of the Journal of the American Medical Association 8 I 
find many other spellings that would shock an English medical 
author, among them curet for curette, cocain for cocaine, gage 
for gauge, intern for interne, lacrimal for lachrymal, and a whole 
group of words ending in -er instead of in -re. 

Webster 's reforms, it goes without saying, have not passed un- 
challenged by the guardians of tradition. A glance at the lit- 
erature of the first years of the nineteenth century shows that 
most of the serious authors of the time ignored his new spellings, 
though they were quickly adopted by the newspapers. Ban- 
croft's "Life of Washington" contains -our endings in all such 
words as honor, ardor and favor. Washington Irving also threw 
his influence against the -or ending, and so did Bryant and most 
of the other literary big-wigs of that day. After the appear- 
ance of "An American Dictionary of the English Language," 
in 1828, a formal battle was joined, with Lyman Cobb and Jo- 
seph E. Worcester as the chief opponents of the reformer. Cobb 
and Worcester, in the end, accepted the -or ending and so sur- 
rendered on the main issue, but various other champions arose 
to carry on the war. Edward S. Gould, in a once famous essay, 9 
denounced the whole Websterian orthography with the utmost 
fury, and Bryant, reprinting this philippic in the Evening Post, 
said that on account of Webster ' ' the English language has been 
undergoing a process of corruption for the last quarter of a cen- 
tury," and offered to contribute to a fund to have Gould's de- 
nunciation "read twice a year in every school-house in the 
United States, until every trace of Websterian spelling disap- 
pears from the land." But Bryant was forced to admit that, 
even in 1856, the chief novelties of the Connecticut school-master 
"who taught millions to read but not one to sin" were "adopted 

7 Nomenclature of Diseases and Condition, prepared by direction of the 
Surgeon General; Washington, 1916. 

s American Medical Association Style Book; Chicago, 1915. 

8 Democratic Review, March, 1856. 


and propagated by the largest publishing house, through the 
columns of the most widely circulated monthly magazine, and 
through one of the ablest and most widely circulated newspapers 
in the United States" which is to say, the Tribune under 
Greeley. The last academic attack was delivered by Bishop 
Coxe in 1886, and he contented himself with the resigned state- 
ment that "Webster has corrupted our spelling sadly." Louns- 
bury, with his active interest in spelling reform, ranged himself 
on the side of AVebster, and effectively disposed of the contro- 
versy by showing that the great majority of his spellings were 
supported by precedents quite as respectable as those behind the 
fashionable English spellings. In Lounsbury's opinion, a good 
deal of the opposition to them was no more than a symptom of 
antipathy to all things American among certain Englishmen 
and of subservience to all things English among certain Amer- 
icans. 10 

Webster's inconsistency gave his opponents a formidable 
weapon for use against him until it began to be noticed that 
the orthodox English spelling was quite as inconsistent. He 
sought to change acre to aker, but left lucre unchanged. He re- 
moved the final / from bailiff, mastiff, plaintiff and pontiff, but 
left it in distaff. He changed c to s in words of the offense class, 
but left the c in fence. He changed the ck in frolick, physich, 
etc., into a simple c, but restored it in such derivatives as frolick- 
some. He deleted the silent u in mould, but left it in court. 
These slips were made the most of by Cobb in a pamphlet printed 
in 1831. 11 He also detected Webster in the frequent faux pas 
of using spellings in his definitions and explanations that con- 
flicted with the spellings he advocated. Various other purists 
joined in the attack, and it was renewed with great fury after 
the appearance of Worcester's dictionary, in 1846. Worcester, 
who had begun his lexicographical labors by editing Johnson's 
dictionary, was a good deal more conservative than Webster, 
and so the partisans of conformity rallied around him, and for 

10 Vide English Spelling and Spelling Reform, p. 229. 
11 A Critical Review of the Orthography of Dr. Webster's Series of 
Books . . .; New York, 1831. 


a while the controversy took on all the rancor of a personal 
quarrel. Even the editions of Webster printed after his death, 
though they gave way on many points, were violently arraigned. 
Gould, in 1867, belabored the editions of 1854 and 1866, 12 and 
complained that "for the past twenty-five years the Websterian 
replies have uniformly been bitter in tone, and very free in the 
imputation of personal motives, or interested or improper mo- 
tives, on the part of opposing critics." At this time Webster 
himself had been dead for twenty-two years. Schele de Vere, 
during the same year, denounced the publishers of the Webster 
dictionaries for applying ' ' immense capital and a large stock of 
energy and perseverance" to the propagation of his "new and 
arbitrarily imposed orthography. ' ' 13 


Exchanges As in vocabulary and in idiom, there are constant 
exchanges between English and American in the department 
of orthography. Here the influence of English usage is almost 
uniformly toward conservatism, and that of American usage is 
as steadily in the other direction. The logical superiority of 
American spelling is well exhibited by its persistent advance in 
the face of the utmost hostility. The English objection to our 
simplifications, as Brander Matthews points out, is not wholly 
or even chiefly etymological ; its roots lie, to borrow James Russell 
Lowell's phrase, in an esthetic hatred burning "with as fierce a 
flame as ever did theological hatred." There is something in- 
ordinately offensive to English purists in the very thought of 
taking lessons from this side of the water, particularly in the 
mother tongue. The opposition, transcending the academic, 
takes on the character of the patriotic. "Any American," con- 
tinues Matthews, "who chances to note the force and the fervor 
and the frequency of the objurgations against American spelling 
in the columns of the Saturday Review, for example, and of the 
Athenaeum, may find himself wondering as to the date of the 

12 Good English; p. 137 et seq. 
i Studies in English; pp. 64-5. 


papal bull which declared the infallibility of contemporary Brit- 
ish orthography, and as to the place where the council of the 
Church was held at which it was made an article of faith. ' ' 14 
This was written more than a quarter of a century ago. Since 
then there has been a lessening of violence, but the opposition 
still continues. No self-respecting English author would yield 
up the -our ending for an instant, or write check for cheque, 
or transpose the last letters in the -re words. 

Nevertheless, American spelling makes constant gains across 
the water, and they more than offset the occasional fashions for 
English spellings on this side. Schele de Vere, in 1867, con- 
soled himself for Webster's "arbitrarily imposed orthography" 
by predicting that it could be "only temporary" that, in the 
long run, "North America depends exclusively on the mother- 
country for its models of literature." But the event has blasted 
this prophecy and confidence, for the English, despite their furi- 
ous reluctance, have succumbed to Webster more than once. 
The New English Dictionary, a monumental work, shows many 
silent concessions, and quite as many open yieldings for exam- 
ple, in the case of ax, which is admitted to be "better than axe 
on every ground." Moreover, English usage tends to march 
ahead of it, outstripping the liberalism of its editor, Sir James 
A. H. Murray. In 1914, for example, Sir James was still pro- 
testing against dropping the first e from judgement, a character- 
istic Americanism, but during the same year the Fowlers, in 
their Concise Oxford Dictionary, put judgment ahead of judge- 
ment; and two years earlier the Authors' and Printers' Diction- 
ary, edited by Horace Hart, 15 had dropped judgement alto- 
gether. Hart is Controller of the Oxford University Press, and 
the Authors' and Printers' Dictionary is an authority accepted 
by nearly all of the great English book publishers and news- 
papers. Its last edition shows a great many American spellings. 
For example, it recommends the use of jail and jailer in place 

i* Americanisms and Briticisms; New York, 1892, p. 37. 

IB Authors' & Printers' Dictionary ... an attempt to codify the best 
typographical practices of the present day, by F. Howard Collins; 4th 
ed., revised by Horace Hart; London, 1912. 



of the English gaol and gaoler, says that ax is better than axe, 
drops the final e from asphalte and forme, changes the y to i 
in cyder, cypher and si/ren and advocates the same change in 
tyre, drops the redundant t from nett, changes burthen to bur- 
den, spells wagon with one 0, prefers /use to fuze, and takes the 
e out of storey. "Rules for Compositors and Readers at the 
University Press, Oxford," also edited by Hart (with the ad- 
vice of Sir James Murray and Dr. Henry Bradley), is another 
very influential English authority. 16 It gives its imprimatur 
to bark (a ship), cipher, siren, jail, story, tire and wagon, and 
even advocates kilogram, and omelet. Finally, there is Cassell's 
English Dictionary. 17 It clings to the -our and -re endings and 
to annexe, waggon and cheque, but it prefers jail to gaol, net to 
nett, asphalt to asphalte and story to storey, and comes out flatly 
for judgment, fuse and siren. 

Current English spelling, like our own, shows a number of 
uncertainties and inconsistencies, and some of them are undoubt- 
edly the result of American influences that have not yet become 
fully effective. The lack of harmony in the -our words, leading 
to such discrepancies as honorary and honourable, I have already 
mentioned. The British Board of Trade, in attempting to fix 
the spelling of various scientific terms, has often come to grief. 
Thus it detaches the final -me from gramme in such compounds 
as kilogram and milligram, but insists upon gramme when the 
word stands alone. In American usage gram is now common, 
and scarcely challenged. All the English authorities that I 
have consulted prefer metre and calibre to the American meter 
and caliber. They also support the ae in such words as aetiol- 
ogy, aesthetics, mediaeval and anaemia, and the oe in oesophagus, 

i<5 Horace Hart : Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University 
Press, Oxford: 23rd ed.; London, 1914. I am informed by Mr. Humphrey 
Davy, of the London Times, that, with one or two minor exceptions, the 
Times observes the rules laid down in this book. 

IT Cassell's English Dictionary, ed. by John Williams, 37th thousand: 
London, 1908. This work is based upon the larger Encyclopaedic Diction- 
ary, also edited by Williams. 

is Caliber is now the official spelling of the United States Army. Cf. 
Description and Rules for the Management of the U. S. Rifle, Caliber .30 
Model of 1903; Washington, 1915. But calibre is still official in England 


manoeuvre and diarrhoea. They also cling to such forms as 
mollusc, kerb, pyjamas and ostler, and to the use of x instead 
of ct in connexion and inflexion. The Authors' and Printers' 
Dictionary admits the American curb, but says that the English 
kerb is more common. It gives barque, plough and fount, but 
grants that bark, plow and font are good in America. As be- 
tween inquiry and enquiry, it prefers the American inquiry to 
the English enquiry, but it rejects the American inclose and 
indorse in favor of the English enclose and endorse. 19 Here 
American spelling has driven in a salient, but has yet to take 
the whole position. A number of spellings, nearly all Amer- 
ican, are trembling on the brink of acceptance in both countries. 
Among them is rime (for rhyme}. This spelling was correct in 
England until about 1530, but its recent revival was of American 
origin. It is accepted by the Oxford Dictionary and by the 
editors of the Cambridge History of English Literature, but it 
seldom appears in an English journal. The same may be said 
of grewsome. It has got a footing in both countries, but the 
weight of English opinion is still against it. Develop (instead 
of develope) has gone further in both countries. So has engulf, 
for engulph. So has gipsy for gypsy. 

American imitation of English orthography has two impulses 
behind it. First, there is the colonial spirit, the desire to pass 
as English in brief, mere affectation. Secondly, there is the 
wish among printers, chiefly of books and periodicals, to reach 
a compromise spelling acceptable in both countries, thus avoid- 
ing expensive revisions in case of republication in England. 20 

as appears by the Field Service Pocket-Book used in the European war 
(London, 1914, p. viii. ) 

1 9 Even worse inconsistencies are often encountered. Thus enquiry 
appears on p. 3 of the Dardanelles Commission's First Report; London, 
1917; but inquiring is on p. 1. 

20 Mere stupid copying may perhaps be added. An example of it appears 
on a map printed with a pamphlet entitled Conquest and Kultur, compiled 
by two college professors and issued by the Creel press bureau (Washing- 
ton, 1918). On this map, borrowed from an English periodical called 
New Europe without correction, annex is spelled annexe. In the same 
way English spellings often appear in paragraphs reprinted from the 
English newspapers. As compensation in the case of annexe I find annex 


The first influence need not detain us. It is chiefly visible among 
folk of fashionable pretensions, and is not widespread. At Bar 
Harbor, in Maine, some of the summer residents are at great 
pains to put harbour instead of harbor on their stationery, but 
the local postmaster still continues to stamp all. mail Bar Harbor, 
the legal name of the place. In the same way American haber- 
dashers sometimes advertise pyjamas instead of pajamas, just 
as they advertise braces instead of suspenders and vests instead 
of undershirts. But this benign folly does not go very far. 
Beyond occasionally clinging to the -re ending in words of the 
theatre group, all American newspapers and magazines employ 
the native orthography, and it would be quite as startling to 
encounter honour or jewellery in one of them as it would be to 
encounter gaol or waggon. Even the most fashionable jewelers 
in Fifth avenue still deal in jewelry, not in jewellery. 

The second influence is of more effect and importance. In 
the days before the copyright treaty between England and the 
United States, one of the standing arguments against it among 
the English was based upon the fear that it would flood England 
with books set up in America, and so work a corruption of Eng- 
lish spelling. 21 This fear, as we have seen, had a certain plausi- 
bility; there is not the slightest doubt that American books and 
American magazines have done valiant missionary service for 
American orthography. But English conservatism still holds 
out stoutly enough to force American printers to certain com- 
promises. When a book is designed for circulation in both 
countries it is common for the publisher to instruct the printer 
to employ "English spelling." This English spelling, at the 
Riverside Press, 22 embraces all the -our endings and the follow- 
ing further forms : 

on pages 11 and 23 of A Report on the Treatment by the Enemy of British 
Prisoners of War Behind the Firing Lines in France and Belgium; Mis- 
cellaneous No. 7 (1918). When used as a verb the English always spell the 
word annex. Annexe is only the noun form. 

21 Vide Matthews: Americanisms and Briticisms, pp. 33-34. 

22 Handbook of Style in Use at the Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass. ; 
Boston, 1913. 


cheque grey 

chequered inflexion 

connexion jewellery 

dreamt leapt 

faggot premises (in logic) 

forgather waggon 


It will be noted that gaol, tyre, storey, kerb, asphalte, annexe, 
ostler, mollusc and pyjamas are not listed, nor are the words 
ending in -re. These and their like constitute the English con- 
tribution to the compromise. Two other great American book 
presses, that of the Macmillan Company 23 and that of the J. S. 
Gushing Company, 24 add gaol and storey to the list, and also 
behove, briar, drily, enquire, gaiety, gipsy, instal, judgement, lac- 
quey, moustache, nought, pigmy, postillion, reflexion, shily, slily, 
staunch and verandah. Here they go too far, for, as we have 
seen, the English themselves have begun to abandon briar, en- 
quire and judgement. Moreover, lacquey is going out over there, 
and gipsy is not English, but American. The Riverside Press, 
even in books intended only for America, prefers certain Eng- 
lish forms, among them, anaemia, axe, mediaeval, mould, plough, 
programme and quartette, but in compensation it stands by such 
typical Americanisms as caliber, calk, center, cozy, defense, fore- 
gather, gray, hemorrhage, luster, maneuver, mustache, theater 
and woolen. The Government Printing Office at Washington 
follows Webster's New International Dictionary, 25 which sup- 
ports most of the innovations of Webster himself. This dic- 
tionary is the authority in perhaps a majority of American 
printing offices, with the Standard and the Century supporting 
it. The latter two also follow Webster, notably in his -er end- 

23 Notes for the Guidance of Authors; New York, 1918. 

24 Preparation of Manuscript, Proof Reading, and Office Style at J. S. 
Gushing Company's; Norwood, Mass., n. d. 

25 Style Book, a Compilation of Rules Governing Executive, Congressional 
and Departmental Printing, Including the Congressional Record, ed. of 
Feb., 1917; \Yashington, 1917. A copy of this style book is in the proof- 
room of nearly every American daily newspaper and its rules are generally 


ings and in his substitution of s for c in words of the defense 
class. The Worcester Dictionary is the sole exponent of Eng- 
lish spelling in general circulation in the United States. It re- 
mains faithful to most of the -re endings, and to manoeuvre, 
gramme, plough, sceptic, woollen, axe and many other English 
forms. But even Worcester favors such characteristic Amer- 
ican spellings as behoove, brier, caliber, checkered, dryly, jail 
and wagon. 


Simplified Spelling The current movement toward a general 
reform of English- American spelling is of American origin, and 
its chief supporters are Americans today. Its actual father was 
Webster, for it was the long controversy over his simplified spell- 
ings that brought the dons of the American Philological Asso- 
ciation to a serious investigation of the subject. In 1875 they 
appointed a committee to inquire into the possibility of reform, 
and in 1876 this committee reported favorably. During the 
same year there was an International Convention for the Amend- 
ment of English Orthography at Philadelphia, with several 
delegates from England present, and out of it grew the Spelling 
Reform Association. 28 In 1878 a committee of American philol- 
ogists began preparing a list of proposed new spellings, and two 
years later the Philological Society of England joined in the 
work. In 1883 a joint manifesto was issued, recommending 
various general simplifications. In 1886 the American Phil- 
ological Association issued independently a list of recommenda- 
tions affecting about 3,500 words, and falling under ten head- 
ings. Practically all of the changes proposed had been put 
forward 80 years before by Webster, and some of them had 
entered into unquestioned American usage in the meantime, e. g., 
the deletion of the u from the -our words, the substitution of 

26 Accounts of earlier proposals of reform in English spelling are to be 
found in Sayce's Introduction to the Science of Language, vol. i, p. 330 
et seq., and White's Everyday English, p. 152 et seq. The best general 
treatment of the subject is in Lounsbury's English Spelling and Spelling 
Reform; New York, 1909. 


er for re at the end of words, the reduction of traveller to trav- 
eler, and the substitution of z for s wherever phonetically de- 
manded, as in advertize and cozy. 

The trouble with the others was that they were either too 
uncouth to be adopted without a struggle or likely to cause errors 
in pronunciation. To the first class belonged tung for tongue, 
ruf for rough, bail for battle and abuv for above, and to the 
second such forms as each for catch and troble for trouble. 
The result was that the whole reform received a set-back: the 
public dismissed the industrious professors as a pack of dream- 
ers. Twelve years later the National Education Association re- 
vived the movement with a proposal that a beginning be made 
with a very short list of reformed spellings, and nominated the 
following by way of experiment : tho, altho, thru, thruout, thoro, 
thoroly, thorofare, program, prolog, catalog, pedagog and deca- 
log. This scheme of gradual changes was sound in principle, 
and in a short time at least two of the recommended spellings, 
program and catalog, were in general use. Then, in 1906, came 
the organization of the Simplified Spelling Board, with an en- 
dowment of $15,000 a year from Andrew Carnegie, and a formi- 
dable membership of pundits. The board at once issued a list 
of 300 revised spellings, new and old, and in August, 1906, 
President Roosevelt ordered their adoption by the Government 
Printing Office. But this unwise effort to hasten matters, com- 
bined with the buffoonery characteristically thrown about the 
matter by Roosevelt, served only to raise up enemies, and since 
then, though it has prudently gone back to more discreet en- 
deavors and now lays main stress upon the original 12 words of 
the National. Education Association, the Board has not made a 
great deal of progress. 27 From time to time it issues impressive 
lists of newspapers and periodicals that are using some, at least, 
of its revised spellings and of colleges that have made them 
optional, but an inspection of these lists shows that very few 

27 Its second list was published on January 28, 1908, its third on January 
25, 1909, and its fourth on March 24, 1913, and since then there have been 
several others. But most of its literature is devoted to the 12 words and 
to certain reformed spellings of Webster, already in general use. 


publications of any importance have been converted 28 and that 
most of the great universities still hesitate. It has, however, 
greatly reinforced the authority behind.many of Webster's spell- 
ings, and it has done much to reform scientific orthography. 
Such forms as gram, cocain, chlorid, anemia and anilin are the 
products of its influence. 

Despite the large admixture of failure in this success there 
is good reason to believe that at least two of the spellings on the 
National Education Association list, tho and thru, are making 
not a little quiet progress. I read a great many manuscripts 
by American authors, and find in them an increasing use of 
both forms, with the occasional addition of altho, thoro and 
thoroly. The spirit of American spelling is on their side. They 
promise to come in as honor, bark, check, wagon and story came 
in many years ago, as tire, 29 esophagus and theater came in 
later on, as program, catalog and cyclopedia came in only yes- 
terday, and as airplane (for aeroplane) 30 is coming in today. A 
constant tendency toward logic and simplicity is visible; if the 
spelling of English and American does not grow farther and 
farther apart it is only because American drags English along. 
There is incessant experimentalization. New forms appear, are 
tested, and then either gain general acceptance or disappear. 
One such, now struggling for recognition, is alright, a compound 
of all and right, made by analogy with already and almost. I 
find it in American manuscripts every day, and it not infre- 
quently gets into print. 31 So far no dictionary supports it, but 

28 The Literary Digest is perhaps the most important. Its usage is 
shown by the Funk & Wagnalls Company Style Card; New York, 1914. 

29 Tyre was still in use in America in the 70's. It will be found on p. 
150 of Mark Twain's Roughing It; Hartford, 1872. 

so Vide the Congressional Record for March 26, 1918, p. 4374. It is 
curious to note that the French themselves are having difficulties with this 
and the cognate words. The final e has been dropped from biplan, monoplan 
and hydroplan, but they seem to be unable to dispense with it in aeroplane. 

si For example, in Teepee Neighbors, by Grace Coolidge; Boston, 1917, 
p. 220; Duty and Other Irish Comedies, by Seumas O'Brien; New York, 
1916, p. 52; Salt, by Charles G. Norris; New York, 1918, p. 135, and 
The Ideal Guest, by Wyndham Lewis, Little Review, May, 1918, p. 3. 
O'Brien is an Irishman and Lewis an Englishman, but the printer in each 
case was American. I find allright, as one word but with two ll's, in 


it has already migrated to England. 32 Meanwhile, one often 
encounters, in American advertising matter, such experimental 
forms as burlesk, foto, fonograph, kandy, kar, holsum, kumfort 
and Q-room, not to mention sulfur. Segar has been more or 
less in use for half a century, and at one time it threatened to 
displace cigar. At least one American professor of English 
predicts that such forms will eventually prevail. Even fosfate 
and fotograph, he says, "are bound to be the spellings of the 
future." 33 

6 - 

Minor Differences Various minor differences remain to be no- 
ticed. One is a divergence in orthography due to differences in 
pronunciation. Specialty, aluminum and alarm offer examples. 
In English they are speciality, aluminium and alarum, though 
alarm is also an alternative form. Specialty, in America, is al- 
ways accented on the first syllable ; speciality, in England, on the 
third. The result is two distinct words, though their meaning 
is identical. How aluminium, in America, lost its fourth sylla- 
ble I have been unable to determine, but all American authori- 
ties now make it aluminum and all English authorities stick to 

Another difference in usage is revealed in the spelling and 
pluralization of foreign words. . Such words, when they appear 
in an English publication, even a newspaper, almost invariably 
bear the correct accents, but in the United States it is almost as 
invariably the rule to omit these accents, save in publications 
of considerable pretensions. This is notably the case with cafe 
crepe, debut, debutante, portiere, levee, eclat, fete, regime, role, 
soiree, protege, elite, melee, tete-a-tete and repertoire. It is rare 
to encounter any of them with its proper accents in an American 
newspaper; it is rare to encounter them unaccented in an Eng- 

Diplomatic Correspondence With Belligerent Governments, etc., European 
War, No. 4; Washington, 1918, p. 214. 

32 Vide How to Lengthen Our Ears, by Viscount Harberton; London, 
1917, p. 28. 

3sKrapp: Modern English, p. 181. 


lish newspaper. This slaughter of the accents, it must be obvi- 
ous, greatly aids the rapid naturalization of a newcomer. It 
loses much of its foreignness at once, and is thus easier to absorb. 
Depot would have been a long time working its way into Amer- 
ican had it remained depot, but immediately it became plain 
depot it got in. The process is constantly going on. I often 
encounter naivete without its accents, and even deshabille, hof- 
brdu, senor and resume. Canon was changed to canyon years 
ago, and the cases of expose, divorcee, schmierkase, employe 
and matinee are familiar. At least one American dignitary of 
learning, Brander Matthews, has openly defended and even 
advocated this clipping of accents. In speaking of naif and 
naivete, which he welcomes because "we have no exact equiva- 
lent for either word," he says: "But they will need to shed 
their accents and to adapt themselves somehow to the traditions 
of our orthography. ' ' 34 He goes on : " After we have decided 
that the foreign word we find knocking at the doors of English 
[he really means American, as the context shows] is likely to 
be useful, we must fit it for naturalization by insisting that it 
shall shed its accents, if it has any; that it shall change its 
spelling, if this is necessary ; that it shall modify its pronuncia- 
tion, if this is not easy for us to compass ; and that it shall con- 
form to all our speech-habits, especially in the formation of the 
plural." 35 

In this formation of the plural, as elsewhere, English regards 
the precedents and American makes new ones. All the English 
authorities that I have had access to advocate retaining the for- 
eign plurals of most of the foreign words in daily use, e. g., 
sanatoria, appendices, virtuosi, formulae and libretti. But Amer- 
ican usage favors plurals of native cut, and the Journal of the 
American Medical Association goes so far as to approve curricu- 
lums and septums. Banditti, in place of bandits, would seem 
an affectation in America, and so would soprani for sopranos 

34 Why Not Speak Your Own Language? in Delineator, Nov., 1917, p. 12. 

as I once noted an extreme form of this naturalization in a leading 
Southern newspaper, the Baltimore Sun. In an announcement of the death 
of an American artist it reported that he had studied at the Bozart in 
Paris. In New York I have also encountered chaufer. 


and soli for solos. 36 The last two are common in England. 
Both English and American labor under the lack of native 
plurals for the two everyday titles, Mister and Missus. In the 
written speech, and in the more exact forms of the spoken 
speech, the French plurals, Messieurs and Mesdames, are used, 
but in the ordinary spoken speech, at least in America, they are 
avoided by circumlocution. When Messieurs has to be spoken 
it is almost invariably pronounced messers, and in the same way 
Mesdames becomes mez-dames, with the first syllable rhyming 
with sez and the second, which bears the accent, with games. 
In place of Mesdames a more natural form, Madames, seems to 
be gaining ground in America. Thus, I lately found Dames du 
Sacre Coeur translated as Madames of the Sacred Heart in a 
Catholic paper of wide circulation, 37 and the form is apparently 
used by American members of the community. 

In capitalization the English are a good deal more conserva- 
tive than we are. They invariably capitalize such terms as Gov- 
ernment, Prime Minister and Society, when used as proper 
nouns; they capitalize Press, Pulpit, Bar, etc., almost as often. 
In America a movement against this use of capitals appeared 
during the latter part of the eighteenth century. In Jefferson's 
first draft of the Declaration of Independence nature and creator, 
and even god are in lower case. 38 During the 20 's and 30 's of 
the succeeding century, probably as a result of French influence, 
the disdain of capitals went so far that the days of the week 
were often spelled with small initial letters, and even Mr. be- 
came mr. Curiously enough, the most striking exhibition of 
this tendency of late years is offered by an English work of 
the highest scholarship, the Cambridge History of English Lit- 
erature. It uses the lower case for all titles, even baron and 
colonel before proper names, and also avoids capitals in such 

ss Now and then, of course, a contrary tendency asserts itself. For 
example, the plural of medium, in the sense of advertising medium, is some- 
times made media, by advertising men. Vide the Editor and Publisher, 
May 11, 1918. 

37 Irish World, June 26, 1918. 

38 Vide The Declaration of Independence, by Herbert Friedenwald, New 
York, 1904, p. 262 et seq. 


words as presbyterian, catholic and Christian, and in the second 
parts of such terms as Westminster abbey and Atlantic ocean. 

Finally, there are certain differences in punctuation. The 
English, as everyone knows, put a comma after the street num- 
ber of a house, making it, for example, 34, St. James street. 
They usually insert a comma instead of a period after the hour 
when giving the time in figures, e. g., 9,27, and omit the when 
indicating less than 10 minutes, e. g., 8,7 instead of 8.07. They 
do not use the period as the mark of the decimal, but employ a 
dot at the level of the upper dot of a colon, as in 3 -1416. They 
cling to the hyphen in such words as to-day and to-night; it be- 
gins to disappear in America. They use an before hotel and 
historical; Kipling has even used it before hydraulic; 39 Amer- 
ican usage prefers a. But these small differences need not be 
pursued further. 

39 Now and then the English flirt with the American usage. Hart says, 
.for example, that "originally the cover of the large Oxford Dictionary had 
'a historical.' " But "an historical" now appears there. 


Proper Names in America 


Surnames A glance at any American city directory is suffi- 
cient to show that, despite the continued political and cultural 
preponderance of the original English strain, the American peo- 
ple have quite ceased to be authentically English in race, or even 
authentically British. The blood in their arteries is inordinately 
various and inextricably mixed, but yet not mixed enough to run 
a clear stream. A touch of foreignness still lingers about mil- 
lions of them, even in the country of their birth. They show 
their alien origin in their speech, in their domestic customs, in 
their habits of mind, and in their very names. Just as the 
Scotch and the Welsh have invaded England, elbowing out the 
actual English to make room for themselves, so the Irish, the 
Germans, the Italians, the Scandinavians and the Jews of East- 
ern Europe, and in some areas, the French, the Slavs and the 
hybrid- Spaniards have elbowed out the descendants of the first 
colonists. It is not exaggerating, indeed, to say that wherever 
the old stock comes into direct and unrestrained conflict with 
one of these new stocks, it tends to succumb, or, at all events, to 
give up the battle. The Irish, in the big cities of the East, at- 
tained to a truly impressive political power long before the first 
native-born generation of them had grown up. 1 The Germans, 
following the limestone belt of the Alleghany foothills, pre- 
empted the best lands East of the mountains before the new 

i The great Irish famine, which launched the chief emigration to 
America, extended from 1845 to 1847. The Know Nothing movement, which 
was chiefly aimed at the Irish, extended from 1852 to 1860. 



republic was born. 2 And so, in our own time, we have seen the 
Swedes and Norwegians shouldering the native from the wheat 
lands of the Northwest, and the Italians driving the decadent 
New Englanders from their farms, and the Jews gobbling New 
York, and the Slavs getting a firm foothold in the mining re- 
gions, and the French Canadians penetrating New Hampshire 
and Vermont, and the Japanese and Portuguese menacing Ha- 
waii, and the awakened negroes gradually ousting the whites 
from the farms of the South. 3 The birth-rate among all these 
foreign stocks is enormously greater than among the older stock, 
and though the death-rate is also high, the net increase remains 
relatively formidable. Even without the aid of immigration it 
is probable that they would continue to rise in numbers faster 
than the original English and so-called Scotch-Irish. 4 

Turn to the letter z in the New York telephone directory and 
you will find a truly astonishing array of foreign names, some 
of them in process of anglicization, but many of them still ar- 
restingly outlandish. The only Anglo-Saxon surname beginning 
with z is Zacharias, 5 and even that was originally borrowed from 
the Greek. To this the Norman invasion seems to have added 
only Zouchy. But in Manhattan and the Bronx, even among 
the necessarily limited class of telephone subscribers, there are 
nearly 1500 persons whose names begin with the letter, and 
among them one finds fully 150 different surnames. The Ger- 
man Zimmermann, with either one n or two, is naturally the 
most numerous single name, and following close upon it are its 
derivatives, Zimmer and Zimmern. With them are many more 
German names: Zahn, Zechendorf, Zeffert, Zeitler, Zeller, 
Zellner, Zeltmacher, Zepp, Ziegfeld, Zabel, Zucker, Zucker- 
mann, Ziegler, Zillman, Zinser and so on. They are all repre- 
sented heavily, but they indicate neither the earliest nor the 
most formidable accretion, for underlying them are many Dutch 

2 A. B. Faust : The German Element in the United States, 2 vols. ; Boston, 
1909, vol. ii, pp. 34 et seq. 

3 Richard T. Ely: Outlines of Economics, 3rd rev. ed.; New York, 1916, p. 

*Cf. Seth K. Humphrey: Mankind; New York, 1917, p. 45. 

P Cf. William G. Searle: Onomasticon Anglo-Saxonicum ; Cambridge, 1897. 


names, e. g., Zeeman and Zuurmond, and over them are a large 
number of Slavic, Italian and Jewish names. Among the first I 
note Zcibludosky, Zabriskie, Zachczynski, Zapinkow, Zaretsky, 
Zechnowitz, Zenzalsky and Zywachevsky; among the second, 
Zaccardi, Zaccarini, Zaccaro, Zapparano, Zanelli, Zicarelli and 
Zucca; among the third, Zukor, Zipkin and Ziskind. There 
are, too, various Spanish names: Zelaya, Zingaro, etc. And 
Greek: Zapeion, Zervakos and Zouvelekis. And Armenian: 
Zaloom, Zaron and Zatmajian, And Hungarian: Zadek, 
Zagor and Zichy. And Swedish : Zetterholm and Zetterlund. 
And a number that defy placing: Zrike, Zvan, Zwipf, Zula, 
Zur and Zeve. 

Any other American telephone directory will show the same 
extraordinary multiplication of exotic patronymics. I choose, at 
random, that of Pittsburgh, and confine myself to the saloon- 
keepers and clergymen. Among the former I find a great many 
German names : Artz, Bartels, Blum, Gaertner, Dittmer, Hdhn, 
Pfeil, Schuman, Schlegel, von Hedemann, Weiss and so on. And 
Slavic names: Blaszkiewicz, Bukosky, Puwalowski, Krzykolski, 
Tuladziecke and Stratkiewicz. And Greek and Italian names: 
Markopoulos, Martinelli, Foglia, Gigliotti and Karabinos. And 
names beyond my determination: Tyburski, Volongiatica, He- 
risko and Hajduk. Very few Anglo-Saxon names are on the 
list; the continental foreigner seems to be driving out the na- 
tive, and even the Irishman, from the saloon business. Among 
the clerics, naturally enough, there are more men of English 
surname, but even here I find such strange names as Auroroff, 
Ashinsky, Bourajanis, Duic, Cillo, Mazure, Przvblski, Pniak, 
Bazilevich, Smelsz and Vrhunec. But Pittsburgh and New York, 
it may be argued, are scarcely American ; unrestricted immigra- 
tion has swamped them; the newcomers crowd into the cities. 
Well, examine the roster of the national House of Representa- 
tives, which surely represents the whole country. On it I find 
Bacharaeh, Dupre, Esch, Estopinal, Focht, Heintz, Kahn, Kiess, 
Kreider, La Guardia, Kraus, Lazaro, Lehbach, Eomjue, Siegel 
and Zihlman, not to mention the insular delegates, Kalanianole, 


de Veyra, Davila and Yangko, and enough Irishmen to organize 
a parliament at Dublin. 

In the New York city directory the fourth most common name 
is now Murphy, an Irish name, and the fifth most common is 
Meyer, which is German and chiefly Jewish. The Meyers are 
the Smiths of Austria, and of most of Germany. They outnum- 
ber all other clans. After them come the Schultzes and Krauses, 
just as the Joneses and Williamses follow the Smiths in Great 
Britain. Schultze and Kraus do not seem to be very common 
names in New York, but Schmidt, Mutter, Schneider and Klein 
appear among the fifty commonest. 6 Cohen and Levy rank 
eighth and ninth, and are both ahead of Jones, which is second 
in England, and Williams, which is third. Taylor, a highly 
typical British name, ranking fourth in England and Wales, is 
twenty-third in New York. Ahead of it, beside Murphy, Meyer, 
Cohen and Levy, are Schmidt, Ryan, O'Brien, Kelly and Sulli- 
van. Robinson, which is twelfth in England, is thirty-ninth in 
New York ; even Schneider and Mutter are ahead of it. In Chi- 
cago Olson, Schmidt, Meyer, Hansen and Larsen are ahead of 
Taylor, and Hoffman and Becker are ahead of Ward; in Boston 
Sullivan and Murphy are ahead of any English name save Smith; 
in Philadelphia Myers is just below Robinson. Nor, as I have 
said, is this large proliferation of foreign surnames confined to 
the large cities. There are whole regions in the Southwest in 
which Lopez and Gonzales are far commoner names than Smith, 
Brown or Jones, and whole regions in the Middle West wherein 
Olson is commoner than either Taylor or Williams, and places 
both North and South where Duval is at least as common as 

Moreover, the true proportions of this admixture of foreign 
blood are partly concealed by a wholesale anglicization of sur- 
names, sometimes deliberate and sometimes the fruit of mere 
confusion. That Smith, Brown and Miller remain in first, sec- 
ond and third places among the surnames of New York is surely 
no sound evidence of Anglo-Saxon survival. The German and 

e New York World Almanac, 1914, p. 668. 


Scandinavian Schmidt has undoubtedly contributed many a 
Smith, and Braun many a Brown, and Mutter many a Miller. 
In the same way Johnson, which holds first place among Chicago 
surnames, and Anderson, which holds third, are plainly rein- 
forced from Scandinavian sources, and the former may also owe 
something to the Russian Ivanof. Miller is a relatively rare 
name in England ; it is not among the fifty most common. But 
it stands thirtieth in Boston, fourth in New York and Balti- 
more, and second in Philadelphia. 7 In the last-named city the 
influence of Muller, probably borrowed from the Pennsylvania 
Dutch, is plainly indicated, and in Chicago it is likely that there 
are also contributions from the Scandinavian Moller, the Polish 
Jannszewski and the Bohemian Mlindr. Myers, as we have seen, 
is a common surname in Philadelphia. So are Fox and Snyder. 
In some part, at least, they have been reinforced by the Penn- 
sylvania Dutch Meyer, Fuchs and Schneider. Sometimes Muller 
changes to Miller, sometimes to Muller, and sometimes it remains 
unchanged, but with the spelling made Mueller. Muller and 
Mueller do not appear among the commoner names in Phila- 
delphia ; all the Mutters seem to have become Millers, thus putting 
Miller in second place. But in Chicago, with Miller in fourth 
place, there is also Mueller in thirty-first place, and in New 
York, with Miller in third place, there is also Muller in twenty- 
fourth place. 

Such changes, chiefly based upon transliterations, are met with 
in all countries. The name of Taaffe, familiar in Austrian his- 
tory, had an Irish prototype, probably Taft. General Demikof, 
one of the Russian commanders at the battle of Zorndorf, in 
1758, was a Swede born Themicoud. Franz Maria von Thugut, 
the Austrian diplomatist, was a member of an Italian Tyrolese 
family named Tunicotto. This became Thunichgut (= do no 
good) in Austria, and was changed to Thugut (do good) 
to bring it into greater accord with its possessor's deserts. 8 In 

7 It was announced by the Bureau of War Risk Insurance on March 30, 
1918, that there were then 15,000 Millers in the United States Army. On 
the same day there were 262 John J. O'Briens, of whom 50 had wives, named 

s Cf. Carlyle'a Frederick the Great, bk. xxi, ch. vi, 


Bonaparte the Italian buon(o) became the French bon. Many 
English surnames are decayed forms of Norman-French names, 
for example, Sidney from St. Denis, Divver from De Vere, 
Bridgewater from Burgh de Walter, Montgomery from de Mun- 
gumeri, Garnett from Guarinot, and Seymour from Saint-Maure. 
A large number of so-called Irish names are the products of 
rough-and-ready transliterations of Gaelic patronymics, for ex- 
ample, Findlay from Fionnlagh, Dermott from Diarmuid, and 
McLane from Mac Illeathiain. In the same way the name of 
Phoenix Park, in Dublin, came from Fion Uisg (= fine water) . 
Of late some of the more ardent Irish authors and politicians 
have sought to return to the originals. Thus, O' Sullivan has 
become Suilleabhdin, Pearse has become Piarais, Mac Sweeney 
has become Mac Suibhne, and Patrick has suffered a widespread 
transformation to Padraic. But in America, with a language 
of peculiar vowel-sounds and even consonant-sounds struggling 
against a foreign invasion unmatched for strength and variety, 
such changes have been far more numerous than across the 
ocean, and the legal rule of idem sonans is of much wider utility 
than anywhere else in the world. If it were not for that rule 
there would be endless difficulties for the Wises whose grand- 
fathers were Weisses, and the Leonards born Leonhards, Leon- 
hardts or Lehnerts, and the Manneys who descend and inherit 
from Le Maines. 

"A crude popular etymology," says a leading authority on 
surnames, 9 "often begins to play upon a name that is no longer 
significant to the many. So the Thurgods have become Thor- 
oughgoods, and the Todenackers have become the Pennsylvania 
Dutch Toothakers, much as asparagus has become sparrow- 
grass." So, too, the Wittnachts of Boyle county, Kentucky, 
descendants of a Hollander, have become Whitenecks, and the 
Lehns of lower Pennsylvania, descendants of some far-off Ger- 
man, have become Lanes. 10 Edgar Allan Poe was a member of 
a family long settled in Western Maryland, the founder being 
one Poh or Pfau, a native of the Palatinate. Major George 

S. Grant Oliphant, in the Baltimore Sun, Dec. 2, 1906. 
10 Harriet Lane Johnston was of this family. 


Armistead, who defended Fort McHenry in 1814, when Francis 
Scott Key wrote ' ' The Star-Spangled Banner, ' ' was the descend- 
ant of an Armstddt who came to Virginia from Hesse-Darmstadt. 
General George A. Custer, the Indian fighter, was the great- 
grandson of one Kuster, a Hessian soldier paroled after Bur- 
goyne's surrender. William Wirt, anti-Masonic candidate for 
the presidency in 1832, was the son of one Worth. William 
Paca, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was the great- 
grandson of a Bohemian named Paka. General W. S. Rosecrans 
was really a Rosenkrantz. Even the surname of Abraham Lin- 
coln, according to some authorities, was an anglicized form of 
Linkhorn. 11 

Such changes, in fact, are almost innumerable; every work 
upon American genealogy is full of examples. The first foreign 
names to undergo the process were Dutch and French. Among 
the former, Reiger was debased to Riker, Van de Veer to Van- 
diver, Van Huys to Vannice, Van Siegel to Van Sickle, Van 
Arsdale to Vannersdale, and Haerlen (or Haerlem) to Har- 
lan; 12 among the latter, Petit became Poteet, Caille changed to 
Kyle, De la Haye to Dillehay, Dejean to Deshong, Guizot to 
Gossett, Guereant to Caron, Soule to Sewell, Gervaise to Jarvis, 
Bayle to Bailey, Fontaine to Fountain, Denis to Denny, Pe- 
baudiere to Peabody, Bon Pas to Bumpus and de I' Hot el to Doo- 
little. "Frenchmen and French Canadians who came to New 
England," says Schele de Vere, "had to pay for such hospi- 
tality as they there received by the sacrifice of their names. 
The brave Bon Coeur, Captain Marryatt tells us in his Diary, 
became Mr. Bunker, and gave his name to Bunker's Hill." 13 
But it was the German immigration that provoked the first 
really wholesale slaughter. A number of characteristic Ger- 
man sounds for example, that of u and the guttural in ch and g 
are almost impossible to the Anglo-Saxon pharynx, and so they 
had to go. Thus, Bloch was changed to Block or Black, Ochs to 

11 Cf. Faust, op. tit., vol. ii, pp. 183HL 

12 A Tragedy of Surnames, by Fayette Dunlap, Dialect Notes, vol. iv, pt. 
1, 1913, p. 7-8. 

is Americanisms, p. 112. 


Oakes, Hoch to Hoke, Fischbach to Fishback, Albrecht to Albert 
or Albright, and Steinweg to Steinway, and the Grundivort, bach, 
was almost universally changed to baugh, as in Brumbaugh. 
The M met the same fate: Grun was changed to Green, Fiihr 
to Fear or Fw/ir, Warner to Warner, During to Deering, and 
Schndbele to Snavely, Snabely or Snively. In many other cases 
there were changes in spelling to preserve vowel sounds differ- 
ently represented in German and English. Thus, Blum was 
changed to Bloom, 14 Reuss to Royce, Koester to Kester, Kuehle 
to Keeley, Schroeder to Schrader, Stehli to Staley, Weymann to 
Way man, Friedmann to Freedman, Bauman to Bowman, and 
Langr (as the best compromise possible) to Long. The change 
of Oehm to Ames belongs to the same category ; the addition of 
the final s represents a typical effort to substitute the nearest 
related Anglo-Saxon name. Other examples of that effort are 
to be found in Michaels for Michaelis, Bowers for Bauer, John- 
son for Johannsen, Ford for Furth, Hines for Heintz, Kemp for 
Kempf, Foreman for Fuhrmann, Kuhns or Coons for Kuntz, 
Hoover for Huber, Levering for Liebering, Jones for Jonas, 
Swope for Schwab, Hite or Hyde for Heid, Andrews for Andre, 
Young for Jung, and Pence for Pentz. 15 

The American antipathy to accented letters, mentioned in the 
chapter on spelling, is particularly noticeable among surnames. 
An immigrant named Fiirst inevitably becomes plain Furst in 
the United States, and if not the man, then surely his son. 
Lowe, in the same way, is transformed into Lowe (pro. low), 10 

n Henry Harrison, in his Dictionary of the Surnames of the United King- 
dom; London, 1912, shows that such names as Bloom, Cline, etc., always 
represent transliterations of German names. They are unknown to genu- 
inely British nomenclature. 

is A great many more such transliterations and modifications are listed 
by Faust, op. cit., particularly in his first volume. Others are in Pennsyl- 
vania Dutch, by S. S. Haldemann; London, 1872, p. 60 et seq., and in The 
Origin of Pennsylvania Surnames, by L. Oscar Kuhns, Lippincott's Maga- 
zine, March, 1897, p. 395. 

is I lately encountered the following sign in front of an automobile 
repair shop: 

For puncture or blow 
Bring it to Lowe. 


Liirmann into Lurman, Schon into Schon, Suplee into Suplee 
or Supplee, Luders into Luders and Bruhl into Brill. Even 
when no accent betrays it, the foreign diphthong is under hard 
pressure. Thus the German oe disappears, and Loeb is changed 
to Lobe or Laib, Oehler to Ohler, Loeser to Leser, and Schoen 
to Schon or Shane. In the same way the aw in such names as 
Rosenau changes to aw. So too, the French oi-sound is dis- 
posed of, and Dubois is pronounced Doo-boys, and Boileau ac- 
quires a first syllable rhyming with toil. So with the kn in the 
German names of the Knapp class; they are all pronounced, 
probably by analogy with Knight, as if they began with n. So 
with sch; Schneider becomes Snyder, Schlegel becomes Slagel, 
and Schluter becomes Sluter. If_a foreigner clings to/ the orig- 
inal spelling of his name he must usually expect to hear it mis- 
pronounced. Roth, in American, quickly becomes Rawth; Fre- 
mont, losing both accent and the French e, become Freemont; 
Blum begins to rhyme with dumb; Mann rhymes with van, and 
Lang with hang; Krantz, Lantz and their cognates with chance; 
Kurtz with shirts; the first syllable of Gutmann with but; the 
first of Kahler with bay; the first of Werner with turn; the 
first of Wagner with nag. Uhler, in America, is always Touler. 
Berg loses its German e-sound for an English w-sound, and its 
German hard g for an English g; it becomes identical with the 
berg of iceberg. The same change in the vowel occurs in Erd- 
mann. In Konig the German diphthong succumbs to a long 
o, and the hard g becomes k; the common pronunciation is 
Cone-ik. Often, in Berger, the g becomes soft, and the name 
rhymes with verger. It becomes soft, too, in Bittinger. In 
Wilstach and Welsbach the ch becomes a k. In Anheuser the 
eu changes to a long i. The final e, important in German, is 
nearly always silenced; Dohme rhymes with foam; Kuhne be- 
comes Keen. 

In addition to these transliterations, there are constant trans- 
lations of foreign proper names. "Many a Pennsylvania Car- 
penter," says Dr. Oliphant, 17 "bearing a surname that is Eng- 
lish, from the French, from the Latin, and there a Celtic loan- 

17 Baltimore Sun, March 17, 1907. 


word in origin, is neither English, nor French, nor Latin, nor 
Celt, but an original German 'Zimmermann." 18 A great many 
other such translations are under everyday observation. Pfund 
becomes Pound; Becker, Baker; Schumacher, Shoemaker; Ko'nig, 
King; Weisberg, Whitehill; Koch, Cook; 19 Neuman, Newman; 
Schaefer, Shepherd or Sheppard; Gutmann, Goodman; Gold- 
schmidt, Goldsmith; Edelstein, Noblestone; Steiner, Stoner; 
Meister, Master (s) ; Schwartz, Black; Weiss, White; Weber, 
Weaver; Bucher, Booker; Vogelgesang, Birdsong; Sontag, Sun- 
day, and so on. Partial translations are also encountered, e. g., 
Studebaker from Studebecker, and Reindollar from Rheinthaler. 
By the same process, among the newer immigrants, the Polish 
Wilkiewicz becomes Wilson, the Bohemian Bohumil becomes 
Godfrey, and the Bohemian Kovdr and the Russian Kuznetzov 
become Smith. Some curious examples are occasionally en- 
countered. Thus Henry Woodhouse, a gentleman prominent in 
aeronautical affairs, came to the United States ffbm Italy as 
Mario Terenzio Enrico Casalegno; his new surname is simply 
a translation of his old one. And the Belmonts, the bankers, 
unable to find a euphonious English equivalent for their German- 
Jewish patronymic of Schonberg, chose a French one that Amer- 
icans could pronounce. 

In part, as I say, these changes in surname are enforced by 
the sheer inability of Americans to pronounce certain Con- 
tinental consonants, and their disinclination to remember the 
Continental vowel sounds. Many an immigrant, finding his 
name constantly mispronounced, changes its vowels or drops 
some of its consonants; many another shortens it, or translates 
it, .or changes it entirely for the same reason. Just as a well- 
known Graeco-French poet changed his Greek name of Papadia- 
mantopoulos to Moreas because Papadiamantopoulos was too 
much for Frenchmen, and as an eminent Polish-English novelist 

is Cf. The Origin of Pennsylvania Surnames, op. tit. 

is Koch, a common German name, has very hard sledding in America. 
Its correct pronunciation is almost impossible to Americans; at best it be- 
comes Coke. Hence it is often changed, hot only to Cook, but to Cox, Kok? 
or even Cockey. 


changed his Polish name of Karzeniowski to Conrad because few 
Englishmen could pronounce owski correctly, so the Italian or 
Greek or Slav immigrant, coming up for naturalization, very 
often sheds his family name with his old allegiance, and emerges 
as Taylor, Jackson or Wilson. I once encountered a firm of 
Polish Jews, showing the name of Robinson & Jones on its sign- 
board, whose partners were born Rubinowitz and Jonas. I lately 
heard of a German named Knoche a name doubly difficult to 
Americans, what with the kn and the ch who changed it boldly 
to Knox to avoid being called Nokky. A Greek named Zoyio- 
poulous, Kolokotronis, Mavrokerdatos or Const antinopolous 
would find it practically impossible to carry on amicable business 
with Americans ; his name would arouse their mirth, if not their 
downright ire. And the same burden would lie upon a Hun- 
garian named Beniczkyne or Gyalui, or Szilagyi, or Vezercsil- 
lagok. Or a Finn named Kyyhkysen, or Jaaskelainen, or Tuulen- 
suu, or Uotinen, all honorable Finnish patronymics. Or a 
Swede named Sjogren, or Schjtt, or Leijonhufvud. Or a Bo- 
hemian named Srb, or Hrubka. Or, for that matter, a German 
named Kannengiesser, or Schnapaupf, or Pfannenbecker. 

But more important than this purely linguistic hostility, there 
is a deeper social enmity, and it urges the immigrant to change 
his name with even greater force. For a hundred years past all 
the heaviest and most degrading labor of the United States has 
been done by successive armies of foreigners, and so a concept 
of inferiority has come to be attached to mere foreignness. In 
addition, these newcomers, pressing upward steadily in the man- 
ner already described, have offered the native a formidable, 
and considering their lower standards of living, what has ap- 
peared to him to be an unfair competition on his own plane, and 
as a result a hatred born of disastrous rivalry has been added to 
his disdain. Our unmatchable vocabulary of derisive names for 
foreigners reveals the national attitude. The French boche, the 
German hunyadi (for Hungarian), 20 and the old English froggy 
(for Frenchman) seem lone and feeble beside our great reper- 

20 This is army slang, but promises to survive. The Germans, during the 
war, had no opprobrious nicknames for their foes. The French were always 


toire: dago, wop, guinea, kike, goose, mick, harp, 21 bohick, bo- 
hunk, square-head, greaser, canuck, spiggoty, 22 chink, polack, 
dutchie, scowegian, hunkie and yellow-belly. This disdain tends 
to pursue an immigrant with extraordinary rancor when he 
bears a name that is unmistakably foreign and hence difficult 
to the native, and open to his crude burlesque. Moreover, the 
general feeling penetrates the man himself, particularly if he 
be ignorant, and he comes to believe that his name is not only a 
handicap, but also intrinsically discreditable that it wars subtly 
upon his worth and integrity. 23 This feeling, perhaps, accounted 
for a good many changes of surnames among Germans upon the 
entrance of the United States into the war. But in the majority 
of cases, of course, the changes so copiously reported e. g., from 
Bielefelder to Benson, and from Pulvermacher to Pullman 
were merely efforts at protective coloration. The immigrant, in 
a time of extraordinary suspicion and difficulty, tried to get rid 
of at least one handicap. 2 * 

die Franzosen, the English were die Engldnder, and so on, even when most 
violently abused. Even der Yankee was rare. 

21 Cf. Some Current Substitutes for Irish, by W. A. McLaughlin, Dialect 
Notes, vol. iv, pt. ii. 

22 Spiggoty, originating at Panama, now means a native of any Latin- 
American region under American protection, and in general any Latin- 
American. It is navy slang, but has come into extensive civilian use. It 
is a derisive daughter of "No spik Inglese." 

23 Cf. Reaction to Personal Names, by Dr. C. P. Oberndorf, Psychoanalytic 
Review, vol. v, no. 1, January, 1918, p. 47 et seq. This, so far as I know, 
is the only article in English which deals with the psychological effects of 
surnames upon their bearers. Abraham, Silberer and other German 
psychoanalysts have made contributions to the subject. Dr. Oberndorf al- 
ludes, incidentally, to the positive social prestige which goes with an Eng- 
lish air, and, to a smaller extent, with a French air in America. He tells 
of an Italian who changed his patronymic of Dipucci into de Pucci to make 
it more "aristocratic." And of a German bearing the genuinely aristo- 
cratic name of von Landsschaffshausen who changed it to "a typically Eng- 
lish name" because the latter seemed more distinguished to his neighbors. 

24 The effects of race antagonism upon language are still to be investi- 
gated. The etymology of slave indicates that the inquiry might yield 
interesting results. The word French, in English, is largely used to sug- 
gest sexual perversion. In German anything Russian is barbarous, and 
English education hints at flaggelation. The French, for many years, 
called a certain contraband appliance a capote Anglaise, but after the 
entente cordiale they changed the name to capote Allemande. The com- 


This motive constantly appears among the Jews, who face an 
anti-Semitism that is imperfectly concealed and may be expected 
to grow stronger hereafter. Once they have lost the faith of 
their fathers, a phenomenon almost inevitable in the first native- 
born generation, they shrink from all the disadvantages that go 
with Jewishness, and seek to conceal their origin, or, at all 
events, to avoid making it unnecessarily noticeable. 25 To this 
end they modify the spelling of the more familiar Jewish sur- 
names, turning Levy into Lewy, Lewyt, Levitt, Levin, Levine, 
Levey, Levie 26 and even Lever, Cohen into Cohn, Cahn, Kahn, 
Kann, Coyne and Conn, Aarons into Arens and Ahrens and 
Solomon into Salmon, Salomon and Solmson. In the same way 
they shorten their long names, changing Wolfsheimer to Wolf, 
Goldschmidt to Gold, and Rosenblatt, Rosenthal, Rosenbaum, Ro- 
senau, Rosenberg, Roseribusch, Rosenblum, Rosenstein, Rosen- 
heim and Rosenfeldt to Rose. Like the Germans, they also seek 
refuge in translations more or less literal. Thus, on the East 
Side of New York, Blumenthal is often changed to Blooming dale, 
Schneider to Taylor, Reichman to Richman, and Schlachtfeld to 
War field. Fiddler, a common Jewish name, becomes Harper; 
so does Pikler, which is Yiddish for drummer. Stolar, which is 
a Yiddish word borrowed from the Russian, signifying carpen- 
ter, is often changed to Carpenter. Lichtman and Lichtenstein 
become Chandler. Meilach, which is Hebrew for king, becomes 
King, and so does Meilachson. The strong tendency to seek 
English-sounding equivalents for names of noticeably foreign 
origin changes Sher into Sherman, Michel into Mitchell, Ro- 
gowsky into Rogers, Kolinsky into Collins, Rabinovitch into Rob- 
bins, Davidovitch into Davis, Moiseyev into Macy or Mason, and 
Jacobson, Jacobovitch and Jacobovsky into Jackson. This last 

mon English name to this day is French letter. Cf. The Criminal, by 
Havelock Ellis; London, 1910, p. 208. 

25 Cf. The Jews, by Maurice Fishberg; New York, 1911, ch. xxii, and espe- 
cially p. 485 et seq. 

26 The English Jews usually change Levy to Lewis, a substitution almost 
unknown in America. They also change A braham to Braham and Moses 
to Moss. Vide Surnames, Their Origin and Nationality, by L. B. McKenna; 
Quincy (111.), 1913, pp. 13-14. 


change proceeds by way of a transient change to Jake or Jack 
as a nickname. Jacob is always abbreviated to one or the other 
on the East Side. Yankelevitch also becomes Jackson, for Yankel 
is Yiddish for Jacob. 27 

Among the immigrants of other stocks some extraordinarily 
radical changes in name are to be observed. Greek names of 
five, and even eight syllables shrink to Smith; Hungarian names 
that seem to be all consonants are reborn in such euphonious 
forms as Martin and Lacy. I have encountered a Gregory who 
was born Grgurevich in Serbia ; a Uhler who was born Uhlyarik; 
a Graves who descends from the fine old Dutch family of 'sGrav- 
enhage. I once knew a man named Lawton whose grandfather 
had been a Lautenberger. First he shed the berger and then 
he changed the spelling of Lauten to make it fit the inevitable 
American mispronunciation. There is, again, a family of Dicks 
in the South whose ancestor was a Schwettendieck apparently 
a Dutch or Low German name. There is, yet again, a celebrated 
American artist, of the Bohemian patronymic of Hrubka, who 
has abandoned it for a surname which is common to all the 
Teutonic languages, and is hence easy for Americans. The 
Italians, probably because of the relations established by the 
Catholic church, often take Irish names, as they marry Irish 
girls; it is common to hear of an Italian pugilist or politician 
named Kelly or O'Brien. The process of change is often in- 
formal, but even legally it is quite facile. The Naturalization 
Act of June 29, 1906, authorizes the court, as a part of the 
naturalization of any alien, to make an order changing his name. 
This is frequently done when he receives his last papers; some- 
times, if the newspapers are to be believed, without his solicita- 
tion, and even against his protest. If the matter is overlooked 
at the time, he may change his name later on, like any other 
citizen, by simple application to a court of record. 

Among names of Anglo-Saxon origin and names naturalized 
long before the earliest colonization, one notes certain American 
peculiarities, setting off the nomenclature of the United States 

27 For these observations of name changes among the Jews I am indebted 
to Abraham Cahan. 


from that of the mother country. The relative infrequency of 
hyphenated names in America is familiar ; when they appear at 
all it is almost always in response to direct English influences. 28 
Again, a number of English family names have undergone 
modification in the New World. V enable may serve as a speci- 
men. The form in England is almost invariably Venables, but 
in America the final s has been lost, and every example of the 
name that I have been able to find in the leading American 
reference-books is without it. And where spellings have re- 
mained unchanged, pronunciations have been frequently modi- 
fied. This is particularly noticeable in the South. Callowhill, 
down there, is commonly pronounced Carrol; Crenshawe is 
Granger; Hawthorne, Horton; Heyward, Howard; Norsworthy, 
Nazary; Ironimonger, Hunger; Farinholt, F email; Camp, Kemp; 
Buchanan, Bohannan; Drewry, Droit, Enroughty, Darby; and 
Taliaferro, Tolliver. 29 The English Crowninshields pronounce 
every syllable of their name ; the American Cronminshields com- 
monly make it Crunshel. Van Schaick, an old New York name, 
is pronounced Von Scoik. A good many American Jews, aim- 
ing at a somewhat laborious refinement, change the pronuncia- 
tion of the terminal stein in their names so that it rhymes, not 
with line, but with bean. Thus, in fashionable Jewish circles, 
there are no longer any Epsteins, Goldsteins and Hammer- 
steins but only Epsteens, Goldsteens and Hammersteens. The 
American Jews differ further from the English in pronounc- 
ing Levy to make the first syllable rhyme with tea; the 
English Jews always make the name Lev-vy, To match such 

28 They arose in England through the custom of requiring an heir by the 
female line to adopt the family name on inheriting the family property. 
Formerly the heir dropped his own surname. Thus the ancestor of the 
present Duke of Northumberland, born Smithson, took the ancient name of 
Percy on succeeding to the underlying earldom in the eighteenth century. 
But about a hundred years ago, heirs in like case began to join the two 
names by hyphenation, and such names are now very common in the British 
peerage. Thus the surname of Lord Barrymore is Smith-Barry, that of 
Lord Vernon is Venables-Vemon, and that of the Earl of Wharncliffe is 

20 B. W. Green : Word-Book of Virginia Folk-Speech ; Richmond, 1899, pp. 


American prodigies as Darby for Enroughty, the English them- 
selves have Hools for Howells, Sillinger for St. Leger, Sinjin 
for St. John, Pool for Powell, Weems for Wemyss, Kerduggen 
for Cadogen, Mobrer for Marlborough, Key for Cains, March- 
banks for Marjoribanks, Beecham for Beauchamp, Chumley for 
Cholmondeley, Trosley for Trotterscliffe, and Dcw% for Derby, 
not to mention Maudlin for Magdalen. 


Given Names The non- Anglo Saxon American's willingness 
to anglicize his patronymic is far exceeded by his eagerness to 
give "American" baptismal names to his children. The fa- 
vorite given names of the old country almost disappear in the 
first native-born generation. The Irish immigrants quickly 
dropped such names as Terence, Dennis and Patrick, and adopted 
in their places the less conspicuous John, George and Wittiam. 
The Germans, in the same way, abandoned Otto, August, Her- 
mann, Ludwig, Heinrich, Wolfgang, Albrecht, Wilhelm, Kurt, 
Hans, Rudolf, Gottlieb, Johann and Franz. For some of these 
they substituted the English equivalents : Charles, Lewis, Henry, 
William, John, Frank and so on. In the room of others they 
began afflicting their offspring with more fanciful native names : 
Milton and Raymond were their chief favorites thirty or forty 
years ago. 30 The Jews carry the thing to great lengths. At 
present they seem to take most delight in Sidney, Irving, Milton, 
Roy, Stanley and Monroe, but they also call their sons John, 
Charles, Henry, Harold, William, Richard, James, Albert, Ed- 
ward, Alfred, Frederick, Thomas, and even Mark, Luke and 
Matthew, and their daughters Mary, Gertrude, Estelle, Pauline, 
Alice and Edith. As a boy I went to school with many Jewish 
boys. The commonest given names among them were Isadore, 
Samuel, Jonas, Isaac and Israel. These are seldom bestowed by 

so The one given name that they have clung to is Karl. This, in fact, 
has been adopted by Americans of other stocks, always, however, spelled 
Carl. Such combinations as Carl Gray, Carl Williams and even Carl 
Murphy are common. Here intermarriage has doubtless had its effect. 


the rabbis of today. In the same school were a good many Ger- 
man pupils, boy and girl. Some of the girls bore such fine old 
German given names as Katharina, Wilhelmina, Elsa, Lotta, 
Ermentrude and Frankziska. All these have begun to disap- 

The newer immigrants, indeed, do not wait for the birth of 
children to demonstrate their naturalization; they change their 
own given names immediately they land. I am told by Abra- 
ham Cahan that this is done almost universally on the East Side 
of New York. "Even the most old-fashioned Jews immigrating 
to this country," he says, "change Yosel to Joseph, Yankel to 
Jacob, Liebel to Louis, Feivel to Philip, Itzik to Isaac, Ruven to 
Robert, and Moise or Motel to Morris." Moreover, the spelling 
of Morris, as the position of its bearer improves, commonly 
changes to Maurice, though the pronunciation may remain 
Mawruss, as in the case of Mr. Perlmutter. The immigrants of 
other stocks follow the same habit. Every Bohemian Vaclav or 
Vojtech becomes a William, every Jaroslav becomes a Jerry, 
every Bronislav a Barney, and every Stanislav a Stanley. The 
Italians run to Frank and Joe; so do the Hungarians and the 
Balkan peoples ; the Russians quickly drop their national system 
of nomenclature and give their children names according to the 
American plan. Even the Chinese laundrymen of the big cities 
become John, George, Charlie and Frank; I once encountered one 
boasting the name of Emil. 

The Puritan influence, in names as in ideas, has remained a 
good deal more potent in American than in England. The given 
name of the celebrated Praise-God Barebones marked a fashion 
which died out in England very quickly, but one still finds traces 
of it in America, e. g., in such women 's names as Faith, Hope, 
Prudence, Charity and Mercy, and in such men's names as Pere- 
grine. 31 The religious obsession of the New England colonists is 
also kept in mind by the persistence of Biblical names: Ezra, 
Hiram, Ezekial, Zachariah, Elijah, Elihu, and so on. These 

si Cf. Curiosities of Puritan Nomenclature, by Charles W. Bardsley; 
London, 1880. 


names excite the derision of the English; an American comic 
character, in an English play or novel, always bears one of them. 
Again, the fashion of using surnames as given names is far more 
widespread in America than in England. In this country, in- 
deed, it takes on the character of a national habit ; fully three out 
of four eldest sons, in families of any consideration, bear their 
mothers' surnames as middle names. This fashion arose in Eng- 
land during the seventeenth century, and one of its fruits was 
the adoption of such well-known surnames as Stanley, Cecil, How- 
ard, Douglas and Duncan as common given names. 32 It died out 
over there during the eighteenth century, and today the great 
majority of Englishmen bear such simple given names as John, 
Charles and William often four or five of them but in America 
it has persisted. A glance at a roster of the Presidents of the 
United States will show how firmly it has taken root. Of the ten 
that have had middle names at all, six have had middle names 
that were family surnames, and two of the six have dropped their 
other given names and used these surnames. This custom, per- 
haps, has paved the way for another : that of making given names 
of any proper nouns that happen to strike the fancy. Thus 
General Sherman was named after an Indian chief, Tecumseh, 
and a Chicago judge was baptized Kenesaw Mountain 33 in mem- 
ory of the battle that General Sherman fought there. A late 
candidate for governor of New York had the curious given name 
of D-Cady. S4 Various familiar American given names, originally 
surnames, are almost unknown in England, among them, Wash- 
ington, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Colvfrnbus and Lee. Chaun- 
cey forms a curious addition to the list. It was the surname of 
the second president of Harvard College, and was bestowed upon 
their offspring by numbers of his graduates. It then got into 

32 Cf. Bardsley, op. tit., p. 205 et seq. 

as The Geographic Board has lately decided that Kenesaw should be 
Kennesaw, but the learned jurist sticks to one n. 

34 Thornton reprints a paragraph from the Congressional Globe of June 
15, 1854, alleging that in 1846, during the row over the Oregon boundary, 
when "Fifty-four forty or fight" was a political slogan, many "canal-boats, 
and even some of the babies, . . . were christened 54 W" 


general use and acquired a typically American pronunciation, 
with the of the first syllable flat. It is never encountered in 

In the pronunciation of various given names, as in that of 
many surnames, English and American usages differ. Evelyn, 
in England, is given two syllables instead of three, and the first 
is made to rhyme with leave. Irene is given two syllables, making 
it Irene-y. Ralph is pronounced Rafe. Jerome is accented on 
the first syllable ; in America it is always accented on the second. 35 


Geographical Names "There is no part of the world," said 
Robert Louis Stevenson, ' ' where nomenclature is so rich, poetical, 
humorous and picturesque as in the United States of America." 
A glance at the latest United States Official Postal Guide 36 or 
report of the United States Geographic Board 37 quite bears out 
this opinion. The map of the country is besprinkled with place 
names from at least half a hundred languages, living and dead, 
and among them one finds examples of the most daring and elab- 
orate fancy. There are Spanish, French and Indian names as 
melodious and charming as running water; there are names out 
of the histories and mythologies of all the great races of man; 
there are names grotesque and names almost sublime. No other 
country can match them for interest and variety. When there 
arises among us a philologist who will study them as thoroughly 
and intelligently as the Swiss, Johann Jakob Egli, studied the 
place names of Central Europe, his work will be an invaluable 
contribution to the history of the nation, and no less to an under- 
standing of the psychology of its people. 

The original English settlers, it would appear, displayed little 
imagination in naming the new settlements and natural features 

35 The Irish present several curious variations. Thus, they divide Charles 
into two syllables. They also take liberties with various English surnames. 
Bermingham, for example, is pronounced Brimmingham in Ireland. 

3 Issued annually in July, with monthly supplements. 

37 The latest report is the fourth, covering the period 1890-1916; Wash- 
ington, 1916. 


of the land that they came to. Their almost invariable tendency, 
at the start, was to make use of names familiar at home, or to 
invent banal compounds. Plymouth Rock at the North and 
Jamestown at the South are examples of their poverty of fancy ; 
they filled the narrow tract along the coast with new Bostons, 
Cambridges, Bristols and Londons, and often used the adjective 
as a prefix. But this was only in the days of beginning. Once 
they had begun to move back from the coast and to come into 
contact with the aborigines and with the widely dispersed settlers 
of other races, they encountered rivers, mountains, lakes and even 
towns that bore far more engaging names, and these, after some 
resistance, they perforce adopted. The native names of such 
rivers as the James, the York and the Charles succumbed, but 
those of the Potomac, the Patapsco, the Merrimack and the Pendb- 
scot survived, and they were gradually reinforced as the country 
was penetrated. Most of these Indian names, in getting upon 
the early maps, suffered somewhat severe simplifications. Poto- 
wdnmeac was reduced to Potomack and then to Potomac; Uneau- 
kara became Niagara; Reckawackes, by the law of Hobson-Jobson, 
was turned into Rockaway, and Pentapang into Port Tobacco. 38 
But, despite such elisions and transformations, the charm of thou- 
sands of them remained, and today they are responsible for much 
of the characteristic color of American geographical nomencla- 
ture. Such names as Tallahassee, Susquehanna, Mississippi, 
Allegheny, Chicago, Kennebec, Patuxent and Arkansas give a 
barbaric brilliancy to the American map. Only the map of 
Australia, with its mellifluous Maori names, can match it. 

The settlement of the American continent, once the eastern 
coast ranges were crossed, proceeded with unparalleled speed, 
and so the naming of the new rivers, lakes, peaks and valleys, 
and of the new towns and districts no less, strained the inventive- 
ness of the pioneers. The result is the vast duplication of names 
that shows itself in the Postal Guide. No less than eighteen imi- 

38 The authority here is River and Lake Names in the United States, by 
Edmund T. Ker; New York, 1911. Stephen G. Boyd, in Indian Local 
Names; York (Pa.), 1885, says that the original Indian name was 


tative Bostons and New Bostons still appear, and there are nine- 
teen Bristols, twenty-eight Newports, and twenty-two Londons 
and New Londons. Argonauts starting out from an older settle- 
ment on the coast would take its name with them, and so we find 
Philadelphias in Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee, 
Richmonds in Iowa, Kansas and nine other western states, and 
Princetons in fifteen. Even when a new name was hit upon it 
seems to have been hit upon simultaneously by scores of scattered 
bands of settlers ; thus we find the whole land bespattered with 
Washingtons, Lafayettes, Jeffersons and Jacksons, and with 
names suggested by common and obvious natural objects, e. g., 
Bear Creek, Bald Knob and Buffalo. The Geographic Board, 
in its last report, made a belated protest against this excessive 
duplication. "The names Elk, Beaver, Cottonwood and Bald/' 
it said, ' ' are altogether too numerous. " 39 Of postoffices alone 
there are fully a hundred embodying Elk; counting in rivers, 
lakes, creeks, mountains and valleys, the map of the United 
States probably shows at least twice as many such names. 

A study of American geographical and place names reveals 
eight general classes, as follows: (a) those embodying personal 
names, chiefly the surnames of pioneers or of national heroes; 
(6) those transferred from other and older places, either in the 
eastern states or in Europe ; (c) Indian names; (d) Dutch, Span- 
ish and French names; (e) Biblical and mythological names; 
(/) names descriptive of localities; (g) names suggested by the 
local flora, fauna or geology; (h) purely fanciful names. The 
names of the first class are perhaps the most numerous. Some 
consist of surnames standing alone, as Washington, Cleveland, 
Bismarck, Lafayette, Taylor and Randolph; others consist of sur- 
names in combination with various old and new Grundwb'rter, 
as Pittsburgh, Knoxville, Bailey's Switch, Hagerstown, Frank- 
linton, Dodge City, Fort Riley, Wayne Junction and McKees- 
port; and yet others are contrived of given names, either alone 
or in combination, as Louisville, St. Paul, Elizabeth, Johnstown, 
Charlotte, Williamsburg and Marysville. The number of towns 
in the United States bearing women's given names is enormous. 

"P. 17. 


I find, for example, eleven postoffices called Charlotte, ten called 
Ada and no less than nineteen called Alma. Most of these places 
are small, but there is an Elizabeth with 75,000 population, an 
Elmira with 40,000, and an Augusta with nearly 45,000. 

The names of the second class we have already briefly ob- 
served. They are betrayed in many cases by the prefix New; 
more than 600 such postoffices are recorded, ranging from New 
Albany to New Windsor. Others bear such prefixes as West, 
North and South, or various distinguishing affixes, e. g., Bos- 
tonia, Pittsburgh Landing, Yorktown and Hartford City. One 
often finds eastern county names applied to western towns and 
eastern town names applied to western rivers and mountains. 
Thus, Cambria, which is the name of a county but not of a post- 
office in Pennsylvania, is a town name in seven western states; 
Baltimore is the name of a glacier in Alaska, and Princeton is 
the name of a peak in Colorado. In the same way the names of 
the more easterly states often reappear in the west, e. g., in 
Mount Ohio, Colo., Delaware, Okla., and Virginia City, Nev. 
The tendency to name small American towns after the great cap- 
itals of antiquity has excited the derision of the English since 
the earliest days ; there is scarcely an English book upon the states 
without some fling at it. Of late it has fallen into abeyance, 
though sixteen Athenses still remain, and there are yet many 
Carthages, Uticas, Syracuses, Romes, Alexandria^, Ninevahs and 
Troys. The third city of the nation, Philadelphia, got its name 
from the ancient stronghold of Philadelphus of Pergamun. To 
make up for the falling off of this old and flamboyant custom, 
the more recent immigrants have brought with them the names 
of the capitals and other great cities of their fatherlands. Thus 
the American map bristles with Berlins, Bremens, Hamburgs, 
Warsaws and Leipzigs, and is beginning to show Stockholms, 
Venices, Belgrades and Christianias. 

The influence of Indian names upon American nomenclature 
is quickly shown by a glance at the map. No less than 26 of the 
states have names borrowed from the aborigines, and the same 
thing is true of most of our rivers and mountains. There was 
an effort, at one time, to get rid of these Indian names. Thus 


the early Virginians changed the name of the Powhatan to the 
James, and the first settlers in New York changed the name of 
Horicon to Lake George. In the same way the present name of 
the White Mountains displaced Agiochook, and New Amsterdam, 
and later New York, displaced Manhattan, which has been re- 
cently revived. The law of Hobson-Jobson made changes in 
other Indian names, sometimes complete and sometimes only par- 
tial. Thus, Mauwauwaming became Wyoming, Maucwachoong 
became Mauch Chunk, Ouabache became Wabash, Asingsing be- 
came Sing-Sing, and Machihiganing became Michigan. But 
this vandalism did not go far enough to take away the brilliant 
color of the aboriginal nomenclature. The second city of the 
United States bears an Indian name, and so do the largest Amer- 
ican river, and the greatest American water-fall, and four of the 
five great Lakes, and the scene of the most important military 
decision ever reached on American soil. 

The Dutch place-names of the United States are chiefly con- 
fined to the vicinity of New York, and a good many of them 
have become greatly corrupted. Brooklyn, Wallabout and 
Gramercy offer examples. The first-named was originally 
Breuckelen, the second was Waale Bobht, and the third was 
De Kromme Zee. Hell-Gate is a crude translation of the Dutch 
Helle-Gat. During the early part of the last century the more 
delicate New Yorkers transformed the term into Hurlgate, but 
the change was vigorously opposed by Washington Irving, and 
so Hell-Gate was revived. The law of Hobson-Jobson early con- 
verted the Dutch hoek into hook, and it survives in various place- 
names, e. g., Kinderhook and Sandy Hook. The Dutch kill is a 
Grundwort in many other names, e. g., Catskill, Schuylkill, 
Peekskill, Fishkill and Kill van Kull; it is the equivalent of the 
American creek. Many other Dutch place-names will come fa- 
miliarly to mind: Harlem, Staten, Flushing, Cortlandt, Calver 
Plaat, Nassau, Coenties, Spuyten Duyvel, Yonkers, Hoboken and 
Bowery (from Bouvery).* Block Island was originally Blok, 
and Cape May, according to Schele de Vere, was Mey, both Dutch. 

40 Cf. Dutch Contributions to the Vocabulary of English in America, by 
W. H. Carpenter, Modern Philology, July, 1908. 


A large number of New York street and neighborhood names 
come down from Knickerbocker days, often greatly changed in 
pronunciation. Desbrosses offers an example. The Dutch called 
it de Broose, but in New York today it is commonly spoken of as 

French place-names have suffered almost as severely. Few 
persons would recognize Smackover, the name of a small town 
in Arkansas, as French, and yet in its original form it was 
Chemin Convert. Schele de Vere, in 1871, recorded the de- 
generation of the name to Smack Cover; the Postoffice, always 
eager to shorten and simplify names, has since made one word 
of it and got rid of the redundant c. In the same way Bob Ruly, 
a Missouri name, descends from Bois Brule. "The American 
tongue," says W. W. Crane, "seems to lend itself reluctantly 
to the words of alien languages. ' ' 41 This is shown plainly by 
the history of French place-names among us. A large number 
of them, e. g., Lac Superieur, were translated into English at 
an early day, and most of those that remain are now pronounced 
as if they were English. Thus Des Moines is dee-moyns, Terre 
Haute is terry-hut, Beaufort is byu-fort, New Orleans is or-leens, 
Lafayette has a flat a, Havre de Grace has another, and Versailles 
is ver-sales. The pronunciation of sault, as in Sault Ste. Marie, 
is commonly more or less correct ; the Minneapolis, St. Paul and 
Sault Ste. Marie Railroad is popularly called the Soo. This 
may be due to Canadian example, or to some confusion between 
Sault and Sioux. The French Louis, in St. Louis and Louisville, 
is usually pronounced correctly. So is the rouge in Baton 
Rouge, though the baton is commonly boggled. It is possible 
that familiarity with St. Louis influenced the local pronuncia- 
tion of Illinois, which is Illinoy, but this may be a mere attempt 
to improve upon the vulgar Illin-i. 42 

For a number of years the Geographic Board has been seek- 

41 Our Naturalized Names, Lippincott's Magazine, April, 1899. It will 
be recalled how Pinaud, the French perfumer, was compelled to place adver- 
tisements in the street-cars, instructing the public in the proper pronuncia- 
tion of his name. 

42 The same compromise is apparent in the pronunciation of Iroquoii, 
which ia Iro-quoy quite as often as it is Iro-quoys. 


ing vainly to reestablish the correct pronunciation of the name 
of the Purgatoire river in Colorado. Originally named the Rio 
de las Animas by the Spaniards, it was renamed the Riviere du 
Purgatoire by their French successors. The American pioneers 
changed this to Picketurire, and that remains the local name of 
the stream to this day, despite the effort of the Geographic Board 
to compromise on Purgatoire river. Many other French names 
are being anglicized with its aid and consent. Already half a 
dozen Bellevues have been changed to Belleviews and Bellviews, 
and the spelling of nearly all the Belvederes has been changed to 
Belvidere. Belair, La., represents the end-product of a process 
of decay which began with Belle Aire, and then proceeded to 
Bellaire and Bellair. All these forms are still to be found, to- 
gether with Bel Air. The Geographic Board's antipathy to 
accented letters and to names of more than one word 43 has con- 
verted Isle Ste. Therese, in the St. Lawrence river, to Isle Ste. 
Therese, a truly abominable barbarism, and La Cygne, in Kansas, 
to Lacygne, which is even worse. Lamoine, Labelle, Lagrange 
and Lamonte are among its other improvements ; Lafayette, for 
La Fayette, long antedates the beginning of its labors. 

The Spanish names of the Southwest are undergoing a like 
process of corruption, though without official aid. San Antonio 
has been changed to San Antone in popular pronunciation and 
seems likely to go to San Tone; El Paso has acquired a flat 
American a and a 2-sound in place of the Spanish s; Los Angeles 
presents such difficulties that no two of its inhabitants agree 
upon the proper pronunciation, and many compromise on simple 
Los, as the folks of Jacksonville commonly call their town Jax. 
Some of the most mellifluous of American place-names are in 
the areas once held by the Spaniards. It would be hard to match 
the beauty of Santa Margarita, San Anselmo, Alamogordo, Terra 
Amarilla, Sabinoso, Las Paldmas, Ensenada, Nogales, San Pa- 
tricio and Bernalillo. But they are under a severe and double 
assault. Not only do the present lords of the soil debase them 
in speaking them; in many cases they are formally displaced 
by native names of the utmost harshness and banality. Thus, 

**Vide its Fourth Report (1890-1916), p. 15. 


one finds in New Mexico such absurdly-named towns as Sugarite, 
Shoemaker, Newhope, Lordsburg, Eastview and Central; in 
Arizona such places as Old Glory, Springerville, Wickenburg 
and Congress Junction, and even in California such abomina- 
tions as Oakhurst, Ben Hur, Drytown, Skidoo, Susanville, Uno 
and Ono. 

The early Spaniards were prodigal with place-names testify- 
ing to their piety, but these names, in the overwhelming main, 
were those of saints. Add Salvador, Trinidad and Conception, 
and their repertoire is almost exhausted. If they ever named 
a town Jesus the name has been obliterated by Anglo-Saxon 
prudery; even their use of the name as a personal appellation 
violates American notions of the fitting. The names of the Jew- 
ish patriarchs and those of the holy places in Palestine do not 
appear among their place-names; their Christianity seems to 
have been exclusively of the New Testament. But the Americans 
who displaced them were intimately familiar with both books 
of the Bible, and one finds copious proofs of it on the map of 
the United States. There are no less than seven Bethlehems 
in the Postal Guide, and the name is also applied to various 
mountains, and to one of the reaches of the Ohio river. I find 
thirteen Bethanys, seventeen Bethels, eleven Beulahs, nine Ca- 
naans, eleven Jordans and twenty-one Sharons. Adam is sponsor 
for a town in West Virginia and an island in the Chesapeake, and 
Eve for a village in Kentucky. There are five postoffices named 
Aaron, two named Abraham, two named Job, and a town and a 
lake named Moses. Most of the St. Pauls and St. Josephs of 
the country were inherited from the French, but the two St. 
Patricks show a later influence. Eight Wesleys and Wesley- 
miles, eight Asburys and twelve names embodying Luther indi- 
cate the general theological trend of the plain people. There 
is a village in Maryland, too small to have a postoffice, named 
Gott, and I find Gotts Island in Maine and Gottville in Cali- 
fornia, but no doubt these were named after German settlers 
of that awful name, and not after the Lord God directly. There 
are four Trinities, to say nothing of the inherited Spanish Trini- 


Names wholly or partly descriptive of localities are very 
numerous throughout the country, and among the Grundworter 
embodied in them are terms highly characteristic of America 
and almost unknown to the English vocabulary. Bald Knob 
would puzzle an Englishman, but the name is so common in the 
United States that the Geographic Board has had to take meas- 
ures against it. Others of that sort are Council Bluffs, Patapsco 
Neck, Delaware Water Gap, Curtis Creek, Walden Pond, Sandy 
Hook, Key West, Bull Run, Portage, French Lick, Jones Gulch, 
Watkins Gutty, Cedar Bayou, Reams Canyon, Parker Notch, 
Sucker Branch, Fraziers Bottom and Eagle Pass. Butte Creek, 
in Montana, is a name made up of two Americanisms. There 
are thirty-five postoffices whose names embody the word prairie, 
several of them, e. g., Prairie du Chien, Wis., inherited from 
the French. There are seven Divides, eight Buttes, eight town- 
names embodying the word burnt, innumerable names embody- 
ing grove, barren, plain, fork, center, cross-roads, courthouse, 
cove and ferry, and a great swarm of Cold Springs, Coldwaters, 
Summits, Middletowns and Highlands. The flora and fauna of 
the land are enormously represented. There are twenty-two 
Buffalos beside the city in New York, and scores of Buffalo 
Creeks, Ridges, Springs and Wallows. The Elks, in various 
forms, are still more numerous, and there are dozens of towns, 
mountains, lakes, creeks and country districts named after the 
beaver, martin, coyote, moose and otter, and as many more named 
after such characteristic flora as the paw-paw, the sycamore, the 
cottonwood, the locust and the sunflower. There is an Alligator 
in Mississippi, a Crawfish in Kentucky and a Rat Lake on the 
Canadian border of Minnesota. The endless search for mineral 
wealth has besprinkled the map with such names as Bromide, 
Oil City, Anthracite, Chrome, Chloride, Coal Run, Goldfield, 
Telluride, Leadville and Cement. 

There was a time, particularly during the gold rush to Cali- 
fornia, when the rough humor of the country showed itself in 
the invention of extravagant and often highly felicitous place- 
names, but with the growth of population and the rise of civic 
spirit they have tended to be replaced with more seemly coin- 


ages. Catfish creek, in Wisconsin, is now the Yahara river ; the 
Bulldog mountains, in Arizona, have become the Harosomas; 
the Picketwire river, as we have seen, has resumed its old French 
name of Purgatoire. As with natural features of the landscape, 
so with towns. Nearly all the old Boozevilles, Jackass Flats, 
Three Fingers, Hell-For-Sartains, Undershirt Hills, Razzle-Daz- 
zles, Cow-Tails, Yellow Dogs, Jim-Jamses, Jump-Offs, Poker 
Citys and Skunktowns have yielded to the growth of delicacy, 
but Tombstone still stands in Arizona, Goose Bill remains a 
postoffice in Montana, and the Geographic Board gives its im- 
primatur to the Horsethief trail in Colorado, to Burning Bear 
creek in the same state, and to Pig Eye lake in Minnesota. Vari- 
ous other survivors of a more lively and innocent day linger on 
the map : Blue Ball, Ark., Cowhide, W. Va., Dollarville, Mich., 
Oven Fork, Ky., Social Circle, Ga., Sleepy Eye, Minn., Bubble, 
Ark., Shy Beaver, Pa., Shin Pond, Me., Rough-and-Ready , Calif., 
Non Intervention, Va., Noodle, Tex., Nursery, Mo., Number Four, 
N. Y., Oblong, 111., Stock Yards, Neb., Stout, Iowa, and so on. 
West Virginia, the wildest of the eastern states, is full of such 
place-names. Among them I find Affinity, Annamoriah (Anna 
Maria?}, Bee, Bias, Big Chimney, Billie, Blue Jay, Bulltown, 
Caress, Cinderella, Cyclone, Czar, Cornstalk, Duck, Halcyon, 
Jingo, Left Hand, Ravens Eye, Six, Skull Run, Three Churches, 
Uneeda, Wide Mouth, War Eagle and Stumptown. The Postal 
Guide shows two Ben Hurs, five St. Elmos and ten Ivanhoes, 
but only one Middlemarch. There are seventeen Roosevelts, six 
Codys and six Barnums, but no Shakespeare. Washington, of 
course, is the most popular of American place-names. But 
among names of postoffices it is hard pushed by Clinton, Center- 
ville, Liberty, Canton, Marion and Madison, and even by Spring- 
field, Warren and Bismarck. 

The Geographic Board, in its laudable effort to simplify Amer- 
ican nomenclature, has played ducks and drakes with some of 
the most picturesque names on the national map. Now and 
then, as in the case of Purgatoire, it has temporarily departed 
from this policy, but in the main its influence has been thrown 
against the fine old French and Spanish names, and against the 


more piquant native names no less. Thus, I find it deciding 
against Portage des Flacons and in favor of the hideous Bottle 
portage, against Canada del Burro and in favor of Burro canyon, 
against Canos y Tlas de la Cruz and in favor of the barbarous 
Cruz island. In Bougere landing and Canon City it has deleted 
the accents. The name of the De Grasse river it has changed to 
Grass. De Laux it has changed to the intolerable Dlo. And, 
as we have seen, it has steadily amalgamated French and Span- 
ish articles witfi their nouns, thus achieving such forms as 
Duchesne, Eldorado, Deleon and Laharpe. But here its policy 
is fortunately inconsistent, and so a number of fine old names 
has escaped. Thus, it has decided in favor of Bon Secours and 
against Bonsecours, and in favor of De Soto, La Crosse and La 
Moure, and against Desoto, Lacrosse and Lamoure. Here its 
decisions are confused and often unintelligible. Why Laporte, 
Pa., and La Porte, Iowa? Why Lagrange, Ind., and La Grange, 
Ky. ? Here it would seem to be yielding a great deal too much 
to local usage. 

The Board proceeds to the shortening and simplification of 
native names by various devices. It deletes such suffixes as 
town, city and courthouse; it removes the apostrophe and often 
the genitive s from such names as St. Mary's; it shortens burgh 
to burg and borough to boro; and it combines separate and often 
highly discreet words. The last habit often produces grotesque 
forms, e. g., Newberlin, Boxelder, Sabbathday lake, Fallentimber, 
Bluemountain, Westtown, Threepines and Missionhill. It ap- 
parently cherishes a hope of eventually regularizing the spelling 
of Allegany. This is now Allegany for the Maryland county, 
the Pennsylvania township and the New York and Oregon towns, 
Alleghany for the mountains, the Colorado town and the Vir- 
ginia town and springs, and Allegheny for the Pittsburgh bor- 
ough and the Pennsylvania county, college and river. The 
Board inclines to Allegheny for both river and mountains. 
Other Indian names give it constant concern. Its struggles to 
set up Chemquasabamticook as the name of a Maine lake in 
place of Chemquasabamtic and Chemquassabamticook, and Cha- 
tahospee as the name of an Alabama creek in place of Chatta- 



hospee, Hoolethlocco, Hoolethloces, Hoolethloco and Hootethlocco 
are worthy of its learning and authority. 44 

The American tendency to pronounce all the syllables of a 
word more distinctly than the English shows itself in geograph- 
ical names. White, in 1880, 48 recorded the increasing habit of 
giving full value to the syllables of such borrowed English names 
as Worcester and Warwick. I have frequently noted the same 
thing. In Worcester county, Maryland, the name is usually 
pronounced Wooster, but on the Western Shore of the state one 
hears Worcest-'r. Norwich is another such name; one hears 
Nor-wich quite as often as Norrich* 7 Yet another is Delhi; one 
often hears Del-high. White said that in his youth the name 
of the Shawangunk mountains, in New York, was pronounced 
Shongo, but that the custom of pronouncing it as spelled had 
arisen during his manhood. So with Winnipiseogee, the name 
of a lake ; once Winipisaukie, it gradually came to be pronounced 
as spelled. There is frequently a considerable difference be- 
tween the pronunciation of a name by natives of a place and its 
pronunciation by those who are familiar with it only in print. 
Baltimore offers an example. The natives always drop the 
medial i and so reduce the name to two syllables ; the habit iden- 
tifies them. Anne Arundel, the name of a county in Maryland, 

44 The Geographic Board is composed of representatives of the Coast and 
Geodetic Survey, the Geological Survey, the General Land Office, the Post 
Office, the Forest Service, the Smithsonian Institution, the Biological Sur- 
vey, the Government Printing Office, the Census and Lighthouse Bureaus, 
the General Staff of the Army, the Hydrographic Office, Library and War 
Records Office of the Navy, the Treasury and the Department of State. 
It was created by executive order Sept. 4, 1890, and its decisions are binding 
upon all federal officials. It has made, to date, about 15,000 decisons. 
They are recorded in reports issued at irregular intervals and in more 
frequent bulletins. 

45 Every-Day English, p. 100. 

46 I have often noted that Americans, in speaking of the familiar Wor- 
cestershire sauce, commonly pronounce every syllable and enunciated shire 
distinctly. In England it is always Woostersh'r. 

47 The English have a great number of such decayed pronunciations, e. g., 
Maudlin for Magdalen College, Sister for Cirencester, Merrybone for Maryle- 
bone. Their geographical nomenclature shows many corruptions due to 
faulty pronunciation and the law of Hobson-Jobson, e. g., Leighton Buz- 
zard for the Norman French Leiton Beau Desart. 


is usually pronounced Ann 'ran'l by its people. Arkansas, as 
everyone knows, is pronounced Arkansaw by the Arkansans, 
and the Nevadans give the name of their state a flat a. The 
local pronunciation of Illinois I have already noticed. Iowa, 
at home, is often loway.** Many American geographical names 
offer great difficulty to Englishmen. One of my English ac- 
quaintances tells me that he was taught at school to accent 
Massachusetts on the second syllable, to rhyme the second sylla- 
ble of Ohio with tea, andjto sound the first c in Connecticut. In 
Maryland the name of Calvert county is given a broad a, whereas 
the name of Calvert street, in Baltimore, has a flat a. This 
curious distinction is almost always kept up. A Scotchman, 
coming to America, would give the ch in such names as Loch 
Raven and Lochvale the guttural Scotch (and German) sound, 
but locally it is always pronounced as if it were k. 

Finally, there is a curious difference between English and 
American usage in the use of the word river. The English in- 
variably put it before the proper name, whereas we almost as 
invariably put it after. The Thames river would seem quite 
as strange to an Englishman as the river Chicago would seem 
to us. This difference arose more than a century ago and was 
noticed by Pickering. But in his day the American usage was 
still somewhat uncertain, and such forms as the river Mississippi 
were yet in use. Today river almost always goes after the proper 


Street Names "Such a locality as 'the corner of Avenue H 
and Twenty-third street,' " says W. W. Crane, "is about as 
distinctively American as Algonquin and Iroquois names like 
Mississippi and Saratoga."** Kipling, in his "American 
Notes, ' ' 50 gives testimony to the strangeness with which the 

* 8 Curiously enough, Americans always use the broad a in the first 
syllable of Albany, whereas Englishmen rhyme the syllable with pal. The 
English also pronounce Pall Mall as if it were spelled pal mal. Ameri- 
cans commonly give it two broad a's. 

4 Our Street Names, Lippincott's Magazine, Aug., 1897, p. 264. 

BO Ch. i. 


number-names, the phrase "the corner of," and the custom of 
omitting street fall upon the ear of a Britisher. He quotes with 
amazement certain directions given to him on his arrival in San 
Francisco from India: "Go six blocks north to [the] corner 
of Geary and Markey [Market?] ; then walk around till you 
strike [the] corner of Gutter and Sixteenth." The English al- 
ways add the word street (or road or place or avenue) when 
speaking of a thoroughfare; such a phrase as "Oxford and New 
Bond" would strike them as incongruous. The American cus- 
tom of numbering and lettering streets is almost always ascribed 
by English writers who discuss it, not to a desire to make finding 
them easy, but to sheer poverty of invention. The English ap- 
parently have an inexhaustible fund of names for streets; they 
often give one street more than one name. Thus, Oxford street, 
London, becomes the Bayswater road, High street, Holland Park 
avenue, Goldhawke road and finally the Oxford road to the 
westward, and High Holborn, Holborn viaduct, Newgate street, 
Cheapside, the Poultry, Cornhill and Leadenhall street to the 
eastward. The Strand, in the same way, becomes Fleet street, 
Ludgate hill and Cannon street. Nevertheless, there is a First 
avenue in Queen's Park, and parallel to it are Second, Third, 
Fourth, Fifth and Sixth avenues all small streets leading 
northward from the Harrow road, just east of Kensal Green 
cemetery. I have observed that few Londoners have ever heard 
of them. There is also a First street in Chelsea a very modest 
thoroughfare near Lennox gardens and not far from the Bromp- 
ton Oratory. 

Next to the numbering and lettering of streets, a fashion ap- 
parently set up by Major Pierre-Charles L'Enf ant's plans for 
Washington, the most noticeable feature of American street 
nomenclature, as opposed to that of England, is the extensive 
use of such designations as avenue, boulevard, drive and speed- 
way. Avenue is used in England, but only rather sparingly; it 
is seldom applied to a mean street, or to one in a warehouse dis- 
trict. In America the word is scarcely distinguished in mean- 
ing from street. 51 Boulevard, drive and speedway are almost 

5i There are, of course, local exceptions. In Baltimore, for example, 


unknown to the English, but they use road for urban thorough- 
fares, which is very seldom done in America, and they also make 
free use of place, walk, passage, lane and circus, all of which are 
obsolescent on this side of the ocean. Some of the older Ameri- 
can cities, such as Boston and Baltimore, have surviving certain 
ancient English designations of streets, e. g., Cheapside and Corn- 
hill; these are unknown in the newer American towns. Broad- 
way, which is also English, is more common. Many American 
towns now have plazas, which are unknown in England. Nearly 
all have City Hall parks, squares or places; City Hall is also 
unknown over there. The principal street of a small town, in 
America, is almost always Main street; in England it is as in- 
variably High street, usually with the definite article before 

I have mentioned the corruption of old Dutch street and 
neighborhood names in New York. Spanish names are corrupted 
in the same way in the Southwest and French names in the Great 
Lakes region and in Louisiana. In New Orleans the street names, 
many of them strikingly beautiful, are pronounced so barba- 
rously by the people that a Frenchman would have difficulty 
recognizing them. Thus, Bourbon has become Bur-bun, Dau- 
phine is Daw- fin, Foucher is Foosh'r, Enghien is En-gine, and 
Felicity (originally F 'elicit e) is Fill-a-city. The French, in their 
days, bestowed the names of the Muses upon certain of the city 
streets. They are now pronounced Cal'-y-ope, Terp' -si-chore, 
Mel-po-mean', You-terp', and so on. Bon Enfants, apparently 
too difficult for the native, has been translated into Good Chil- 
dren. Only Esplanade and Bagatelle, among the French street 
names of the city, seem to be commonly pronounced with any 
approach to correctness. 

avenue used to be reserved for wide streets in the suburbs. Thus Charles 
street, on passing the old city boundary, became Charles street-avenue. 
Further out it became the Charles street-avenue-road probably a unique 
triplication. But that was years ago. Of late many fifth-rate streets 
in Baltimore have been changed into avenues-. 




Proverb and Platitude No people, save perhaps the Spaniards, 
have a richer store of proverbial wisdom than the Americans, 
and surely none other make more diligent and deliberate efforts 
to augment its riches. The American literature of ''inspira- 
tional" platitude is enormous and almost unique. There are 
half a dozen authors, e. g., Dr. Orison Swett Harden and Dr. 
Frank Crane, who devote themselves exclusively, and to vast 
profit, to the composition of arresting and uplifting apothegms, 
and the fruits of their fancy are not only sold in books but also 
displayed upon an infinite variety of calendars, banners and 
wall-cards. It is rarely that one enters the office of an American 
business man without encountering at least one of these wall- 
cards. It may, on the one hand, show nothing save a succinct 
caution that time is money, say, "Do It Now," or "This Is My 
Busy Day " ; on the other hand, it may embody a long and com- 
plex sentiment, ornately set forth. The taste for such canned 
sagacity seems to have arisen in America at a very early day. 
Benjamin Franklin's "Poor Richard's Almanac," begun in 1732, 
remained a great success for twenty-five years, and the annual 
sales reached 10,000. It had many imitators, and founded an 
aphoristic style of writing which culminated in the essays of 
Emerson, often mere strings of sonorous certainties, defectively 
articulated. The "Proverbial Philosophy" of Martin Farquhar 
Tupper, dawning upon the American public in the early 40 's, 
was welcomed with enthusiasm; as Saintsbury says, 1 its success 

i Cambridge History of English Literature, vol. xiii, p. 167. 



on this side of the Atlantic even exceeded its success on the other. 
But that was the last and perhaps the only importation of the 
sage and mellifluous in bulk. In late years the American pro- 
duction of such merchandise has grown so large that the balance 
of trade now flows in the other direction. Visiting Denmark. 
Germany, Switzerland, France and Spain in the spring of 1917, 
I found translations of the chief works of Dr. Marden on sale in 
all those countries, and with them the masterpieces of such other 
apostles of the New Thought as Ralph "Waldo Trine and Eliz- 
abeth Towne. No other American books were half so well dis- 

The note of all such literature, and of the maxims that precipi- 
tate themselves from it, is optimism. They "inspire" by voicing 
and revoicing the New Thought doctrine that all things are pos- 
sible to the man who thinks the right sort of thoughts in the 
national phrase, to the right-thinker. This right-thinker is in- 
distinguishable from the forward-looker, whose belief in the con- 
tinuity and benignity of the evolutionary process takes on the 
virulence of a religious faith. Out of his confidence come the 
innumerable saws, axioms and gefliigelte Worte in the national 
arsenal, ranging from the "It won't hurt none to try" of the 
great masses of the plain people to such exhilarating confections 
of the wall-card virtuosi as "The elevator to success is not run- 
ning; take the stairs." Naturally enough, a grotesque humor 
plays about this literature of hope; the folk, though it moves 
them, prefer it with a dash of salt. ' ' Smile, damn you, smile ! ' ' 
is a typical specimen of this seasoned optimism. Many exam- 
ples of it go back to the early part of the last century, for in- 
stance, "Don't monkey with the buzz-saw" and "It will never 
get well if you pick it." Others are patently modern, e. g., 
"The Lord is my shepherd; I should worry" and "Roll over; 
you 're on your back. ' ' The national talent for extravagant and 
pungent humor is well displayed in many of these maxims. It 
would be difficult to match, in any other folk-literature, such 
examples as "I'd rather have them say 'There he goes' than 
'Here he lies,' " or "Don't spit: remember the Johnstown 
flood," or "Shoot it in the arm; your leg's full," or "Cheer up; 


there ain't no hell," or "If you want to cure homesickness, go 
back home." Many very popular phrases and proverbs are 
borrowings from above. "Few die and none resign" originated 
with Thomas Jefferson; Bret Harte, I believe, was the author 
of "No check-ee, no shirt-ee," General W. T. Sherman is com- 
monly credited with "War is hell," and Mark Twain with "Life 
is one damn thing after another." An elaborate and highly 
characteristic proverb of the uplifting variety "So live that 
you can look any man in the eye and tell him to go to hell" 
was first given currency by one of the engineers of the Panama 
Canal, a gentleman later retired, it would seem, for attempting 
to execute his own counsel. From humor the transition to 
cynicism is easy, and so many of the current sayings are at 
war with the optimism of the majority. ' ' Kick him again ; he 's 
down" is a depressing example. "What's the use?" a rough 
translation of the Latin "Cui bono?" is another. The same 
spirit is visible in "Tell your troubles to a policeman," "How'd 
you like to be the ice-man?" "Some say she do and some say 
she don't," "Nobody loves a fat man," "I love my wife, but 
you kid, ' ' and ' ' Would you for fifty cents ? ' ' The last orig- 
inated in the ingenious mind of an advertisement writer and 
was immediately adopted. In the course of time it acquired a 
naughty significance, and helped to give a start to the amazing 
button craze of ten or twelve years ago a saturnalia of proverb 
and phrase making which finally aroused the guardians of the 
public morals and was put down by the police. 

That neglect which marks the study of the vulgate generally 
extends to the subject of popular proverb-making. The English 
publisher, Frank Palmer, prints an excellent series of little vol- 
umes presenting the favorite proverbs of all civilized races, in- 
cluding the Chinese and Japanese, but there is no American 
volume among them. Even such exhaustive collections as that 
of Robert Christy 2 contain no American specimens not even 
"Don't monkey with the buzz-saw" or "Root, hog, or die." 

2 Proverbs, Maxims and Phrases of All Ages; New York, 1905. This 
work extends to 1267 pages and contains about 30,000 proverbs, admirably 



American Slang This neglect of the national proverbial 
philosophy extends to the national slang. There is but one 
work, so far as I can discover, formally devoted to it, 3 and that 
work is extremely superficial. Moreover, it has been long out 
of date, and hence is of little save historical value. There are 
at least a dozen careful treatises on French slang, 4 half as many 
on English slang, 5 and a good many on German slang, but Amer- 
ican slang, which is probably quite as rich as that of France 
and a good deal richer than that of any other country, is yet 
to be studied at length. Nor is there much discussion of it, of 
any interest or value, in the general philological literature. 
Fowler and all the other early native students of the language 
dismissed it with lofty gestures; down to the time of Whitney 
it was scarcely regarded as a seemly subject for the notice of a 
man of learning. Lounsbury, less pedantic, viewed its phenomena 
more hospitably, and even defined it as "the source from which 
the decaying energies of speech are constantly refreshed," and 
Brander Matthews, following him, has described its function as 
that of providing ' ' substitutes for the good words and true which 
are worn out by hard service. ' ' 6 But that is about as far as 
the investigation has got. Krapp has some judicious paragraphs 
upon the matter in his ' ' Modern English, ' ' 7 there are a few 
scattered essays upon the underlying psychology, 8 and various 
uninforming magazine articles, but that is all. The practising 
authors of the country, like its philologians, have always shown 

3 James Maitland: The American Slang Dictionary; Chicago, 1891. 

* For example, the works of Villatte, Virmaitre, Michel, Rigaud and 

s The best of these, of course, is Farmer and Henley's monumental Slang 
and Its Analogues, in seven volumes. 

6 Matthews' essay, The Function of Slang, is reprinted in Clapin's 
Dictionary of Americanisms, pp. 565-581. 

7 P. 199 et seq. 

s For example, The Psychology of Unconventional Language, by Frank K. 
Sechrist, Pedagogical Seminary, vol. xx, p. 413, Dec., 1913, and The Philos- 
ophy of Slang, by E. B. Taylor, reprinted in Clapin's Dictionary of 
Americanisms, pp. 541-563. 


a gingery and suspicious attitude. "The use of slang," said 
Oliver Wendell Holmes, "is at once a sign and a cause of men- 
tal atrophy." "Slang," said Ambrose Bierce fifty years later, 
"is the speech of him who robs the literary garbage carts on 
their way to the dumps." Literature in America, as we have 
seen, remains aloof from the vulgate. Despite the contrary 
examples of Mark Twain and Howells, all the more pretentious 
American authors try to write chastely and elegantly; the typ- 
ical literary product of the country is still a refined essay in the 
Atlantic Monthly, perhaps gently jocose but never rough by 
Emerson, so to speak, out of Charles Lamb the sort of thing 
one might look to be done by a somewhat advanced English curate. 
George Ade, undoubtedly one of the most adept anatomists of 
the American character and painters of the American scene 
that the national literature has yet developed, is neglected be- 
cause his work is grounded firmly upon the national speech 
not that he reports it literally, like Lardner and the hacks trail- 
ing after Lardner, but that he gets at and exhibits its very 
essence. It would stagger a candidate for a doctorate in phil- 
ology, I daresay, to be told off by his professor to investigate 
the slang of Ade in the way that Bosson, 9 the Swede, has in- 
vestigated that of Jerome K. Jerome, and yet, until something 
of the sort is undertaken, American philology will remain out 
of contact with the American language. 

Most of the existing discussions of slang spend themselves 
upon efforts to define it, and, in particular, upon efforts to 
differentiate it from idiomatic neologisms of a more legitimate 
type. This effort is largely in vain ; the border-line is too vague 
and wavering to be accurately mapped; words and phrases are 
constantly crossing it, and in both directions. There was a 
time, perhaps, when the familiar American counter-word, propo- 
sition, was slang; its use seems to have originated in the world 
of business, and it was soon afterward adopted by the sporting 
fraternity. But today it is employed without much feeling that 
it needs apology, and surely without any feeling that it is low. 

Olaf E. Bosson: Slang and Cant in Jerome K. Jerome's Works; Cam- 
bridge, 1911. 


Nice, as an adjective of all work, was once in slang use only; 
today no one would question ' ' a nice day, " or ' ' a nice time ' ' or 
"a nice hotel. " Awful seems to be going the same route. "Aw- 
ful sweet" and "awfully dear" still seem slangy and school- 
girlish, but "awful children," "awful weather" and "an awful 
job" have entirely sound support, and no one save a pedant 
would hesitate to use them. Such insidious purifications and 
consecrations of slang are going on under our noses all the 
time. The use of some as a general adjective-adverb seems 
likely to make its way in the same manner. It is constantly for- 
gotten by purists of defective philological equipment that a 
great many of our most respectable words and phrases orig- 
inated in the plainest sort of slang. Thus, quandary, despite a 
fanciful etymology which would identify it with wandreth 
(=evil), is probably simply a composition form of the French 
phrase, qu'en dirai-je? Again, to turn to French itself, there 
is tete, a sound name for the human head for many centuries 
though its origin was in the Latin testa (=pot), a favorite slang- 
word of the soldiers of the decaying empire, analogous to our 
own block, nut and conch. The word slacker, recently come into 
good usage in the United States as a designation for an unsuc- 
cessful shirker of conscription, is a substantive derived from 
the English verb to slack, which was born as university slang and 
remains so to this day. Brander Matthews, so recently as 1901, 
thought to hold up slang; it is now perfectly good American. 

The contrary movement of words from the legitimate vocabu- 
lary into slang is constantly witnessed. Some one devises a new 
and intriguing trope or makes use of an old one under cir- 
cumstances arresting the public attention, and at once it is 
adopted into slang, given a host of remote significances, and 
ding-donged ad nauseam. The Rooseveltian phrases, muck- 
raker, Ananias Club, short and ugly word, nature-faker and big- 
stick, offer examples. Not one of them was new and not one of 
them was of much pungency, but Roosevelt's vast talent for 
delighting the yokelry threw about them a charming air, and 
so they entered into current slang and were mouthed idiotically 
for months. Another example is to be found in steam-roller. 



It was first heard of in June, 1908, when it was applied by Os- 
wald F. Schuette, of the Chicago Inter-Ocean, to the methods 
employed by the Roosevelt-Taft majority in the Republican 
National Committee in over-riding the protests against seating 
Taft delegates from Alabama and Arkansas. At once it struck 
the popular fancy and was soon heard on all sides. All the 
usual derivatives appeared, to steam-roller, steam-rollered, and 
so on. Since then, curiously enough, the term has gradually 
forced its way back from slang to good usage, and even gone over 
to England. In the early days of the Great War it actually 
appeared in the most solemn English reviews, and once or twice, 
I believe, in state papers. 

Much of the discussion of slang by popular etymologists is 
devoted to proofs that this or that locution is not really slang 
at all that it is to be found in Shakespeare, in Milton, or in 
the Revised Version. These scientists, of course, overlook the 
plain fact that slang, like the folk-song, is not the creation of 
people in the mass, but of definite individuals, and that its char- 
acter as slang depends entirely upon its adoption by the igno- 
rant, who use its novelties too assiduously and with too little 
imagination, and so debase them to the estate of worn-out coins, 
smooth and valueless. It is this error, often shared by phil- 
ologists of sounder information, that lies under the doctrine that 
the plays of Shakespeare are full of slang, and that the Bard 
showed but a feeble taste in language. Nothing could be more 
absurd. The business of writing English, in his day, was un- 
harassed by the proscriptions of purists, and so the vocabulary 
could be enriched more facilely than today, but though Shake- 
speare and his fellow-dramatists quickly adopted such neologisms 
as to bustle, to huddle, bump, hubbub and pat, it goes without 
saying that they exercised a sound discretion and that the slang 
of the Bankside was full of words and phrases which they were 
never tempted to use. In our own day the same discrimination 
is exercised by all writers of sound taste. On the one hand they 
disregard the senseless prohibitions of school-masters, and on 
the other hand they draw the line with more or less watchful- 
ness, according as they are of conservative or liberal habit. I 


find the ~best of the bunch and joke-smith in Saintsbury ; 10 one 
could scarcely imagine either in Walter Pater. But by the 
same token one could not imagine chicken (for young girl), 11 
aber nit, to come across or to camouflage in Saintsbury. 

What slang actually consists of doesn't depend, in truth, 
upon intrinsic qualities, but upon the surrounding circumstances. 
It is the user that determines the matter, and particularly the 
user's habitual way of thinking. If he chooses words carefully, 
with a full understanding of their meaning and savor, then no 
word that he uses seriously will belong to slang, but if his speech 
is made up chiefly of terms poll-parroted, and he has no sense 
of their shades and limitations, then slang will bulk largely in 
his vocabulary. In its origin it is nearly always respectable; 
it is devised not by the stupid populace, but by individuals of 
wit and ingenuity; as Whitney says, it is a product of an "ex- 
uberance of mental activity, and the natural delight of language- 
making. ' ' But when its inventions happen to strike the popular 
fancy and are adopted by the mob, they are soon worn thread- 
bare and so lose all piquancy and significance, and, in Whitney 's 
words, become " incapable of expressing anything that is real." 12 
This is the history of such slang phrases, often interrogative, as 
' ' How 'd you like to be the ice-man ? " " How 's your poor feet ? ' ' 
"Merci pour la langouste," "Have a heart," "This is the life," 
"Where did you get that hat?" "Would you for fifty cents?" 
"Let her go, Gallegher," "Shoo-fly, don't bother me," "Don't 
wake him up ' ' and ' ' Let George do it. ' ' The last well exhibits 
the process. It originated in France, as "Laissez faire a 
Georges," during the fifteenth century, and at the start had 
satirical reference to the multiform activities of Cardinal 
Georges d'Amboise, prime minister to Louis XII. 13 It later 

10 Cambridge History of English Literature, vol. xii, p. 144. 

11 Curiously enough, the American language, usually so fertile in words 
to express shades of meaning, has no respectable synonym for chicken. 
In English there is flapper, in French there is ingenue, and in German there 
is backfisch. Usually either the English or the French word is borrowed. 

12 The Life and Growth of Language, New York, 1897, p. 113. 

is Cf. Two Children in Old Paris, by Gertrude Slaughter ; New York, 
1918, p. 233. Another American popular saying, once embodied in a coon 


became common slang, was translated into English, had a re- 
vival during the early days of David Lloyd-George's meteoric 
career, was adopted into American without any comprehension 
of either its first or its latest significance, and enjoyed the brief 
popularity of a year. 

Krapp attempts to distinguish between slang and sound idiom 
by setting up the doctrine that the former is "more expressive 
than the situation demands." "It is," he says, "a kind of 
hyperesthesia in the use of language. To laugh in your sleeve 
is idiom because it arises out of a natural situation ; it is a 
metaphor derived from the picture of one raising his sleeve to 
his face to hide a smile, a metaphor which arose naturally 
enough in early periods when sleeves were long and flowing; 
but to talk through your hat is slang, not only because it is new, 
but also because it is a grotesque exaggeration of the truth. ' ' 14 
The theory, unluckily, is combated by many plain facts. To 
hand it to him, to get away with it and even to hand him a lemon 
are certainly not metaphors that transcend the practicable and 
probable, and yet all are undoubtedly slang. On the other 
hand, there is palpable exaggeration in such phrases as "he 
is not worth the powder it would take to kill him," in such 
adjectives as break-bone (fever), and in such compounds as 
fire-eater, and yet it would be absurd to dismiss them as slang. 
Between Nock-head and bone-head there is little to choose, but 
the former is sound English, whereas the latter is American 
slang. So with many familiar similes, e. g., like greased light- 
ning, as scarce as hen's teeth; they are grotesque hyperboles, 
but surely not slang. 

The true distinction between slang and more seemly idiom, in 
so far as any distinction exists at all, is that indicated by Whit- 
ney. Slang originates in an effort, always by ingenious indi- 
viduals, to make the language more vivid and expressive. When 
in the form of single words it may appear as new metaphors, 

song, may be traced to a sentence in the prayer of the Old Dessauer before 
the battle of Kesseldorf, Dec. 15, 1745: "Or if Thou wilt not help me, 
don't help those Hundvogte." 
i* Modern English, p. 211. 


e. g., bird and peach; as back formations, e. g., beaut and fli 
as composition-forms, e. g., whatdyecallem; as picturesque com- 
pounds, e. g., booze-foundry; as onomatopes, e. g., biff and zowie; 
or in any other of the shapes that new terms take. If, by the 
chances that condition language-making, it acquires a special 
and limited meaning, not served by any existing locution, it 
enters into sound idiom and is presently wholly legitimatized; 
if, on the contrary, it is adopted by the populace as a counter- 
word and employed with such banal imitativeness that it soon 
loses any definite significance whatever, then it remains slang 
and is avoided by the finical. An example of the former process 
is afforded by Tommy-rot. It first appeared as English school- 
boy slang, but its obvious utility soon brought it into good usage. 
In one of Jerome K. Jerome 's books, ' ' Paul Kelver, ' ' there is the 
following dialogue: 

"The wonderful songs that nobody ever sings, the wonderful pictures 
that nobody ever paints, and all the rest of it. It's Tommy-rot!" 

"I wish you wouldn't use slang." 

"Well, you knoF what I mean. What is the proper word? Give it 
to me." 

"I suppose you mean cant. No, I don't. Cant is something that 
you don't believe in yourself. It's Tommy-rot; there isn't any other 

Nor was there any other word for hubbub and to dwindle in 
Shakespeare 's time ; he adopted and dignified them because they 
met genuine needs. Nor was there any other satisfactory word 
for graft when it came in, nor for rowdy, nor for boom, nor for 
joy-ride, nor for omnibus-bill, nor for slacker, nor for trust- 
buster. Such words often retain a humorous quality; they are 
used satirically and hence appear but seldom in wholly serious 
discourse. But they have standing in the language neverthe- 
less, and only a prig would hesitate to use them as Saintsbury 
used the best of the bunch and joke-smith. 

On the other hand, many an apt and ingenious neologism, by 
falling too quickly into the gaping maw of the proletariat, is 
spoiled forthwith. Once it becomes, in Oliver Wendell Holmes' 
phrase, "a cheap generic term, a substitute for differentiated 


specific expressions," it quickly acquires such flatness that the 
fastidious flee it as a plague. One recalls many capital verb- 
phrases, thus ruined by unintelligent appreciation, e. g., to hand 
him a lemon, to freeze on to, to have the goods, to fall for it, 
and to get by. One recalls, too, some excellent substantives, 
e. g., dope and dub, and compounds, e. g., come-on and easy- 
mark, and verbs, e. g., to vamp. These are all quite as sound in 
structure as the great majority of our most familiar words, but 
their adoption by the ignorant and their endless use and misuse 
in all sorts of situations have left them tattered and obnoxious, 
and they will probably go the way, as Matthews says, of all the 
other "temporary phrases which spring up, one scarcely knows 
how, and flourish unaccountably for a few months, and then 
disappear forever, leaving no sign." Matthews is wrong in 
two particulars here. They do not arise by any mysterious 
parthenogenesis, but come from sources which, in many cases, 
may be determined. And they last, alas, a good deal more than 
a month. Shoo-fly afflicted the American people for at least two 
years, and "I don't think" and aber nit quite as long. Even 
"good-night" lasted a whole year. 

A very large part of our current slang is propagated by the 
newspapers, and much of it is invented by newspaper writers. 
One needs but turn to the slang of baseball to find numerous 
examples. Such phrases as to clout the sphere, the initial sack, 
to slam the pill and the dexter meadow are obviously not of 
bleachers manufacture. There is not enough imagination in 
that depressing army to devise such things; more often than 
not, there is not even enough intelligence to comprehend them. 
The true place of their origin is the perch of the newspaper 
reporters, whose competence and compensation is largely esti- 
mated, at least on papers of wide circulation, by their capacity 
for inventing novelties. The supply is so large that connoisseur- 
ship has grown up; an extra-fecund slang-maker on the press 
has his following. During the summer of 1913 the Chicago 
Record-Herald, somewhat alarmed by the extravagant fancy of 
its baseball reporters, asked its readers if they would prefer a 
return to plain English. Such of them as were literate enough 


to send in their votes were almost unanimously against a change. 
As one of them said, "one is nearer the park when Schulte 
slams the pill than when he merely hits the ball." In all other 
fields the newspapers originate and propagate slang, particu- 
larly in politics. Most of our political slang-terms since the 
Civil War, from pork-barrel to steam-roller, have been their in- 
ventions. The English newspapers, with the exception of a few 
anomalies such as the Pink-Un, lean in the other direction ; their 
fault is not slanginess, but an otiose ponderosity in Dean 
Alford's words, "the insisting on calling common things by 
uncommon names; changing our ordinary short Saxon nouns 
and verbs for long words derived from the Latin. ' ' 15 The 
American newspapers, years ago, passed through such a stage 
of bombast, but since the invention of yellow journalism by the 
elder James Gordon Bennett that is, the invention of journal- 
ism for the frankly ignorant and vulgar they have gone to the 
other extreme. Edmund Clarence Stedman noted the change 
soon after the Civil War. "The whole country," he wrote to 
Bayard Taylor in 1873, "owing to the contagion of our news- 
paper 'exchange' system, is flooded, deluged, swamped beneath 
a muddy tide of slang. " ia A thousand alarmed watchmen have 
sought to stay it since, but in vain. The great majority of our 
newspapers, including all those of large circulation, are chiefly 
written, as one observer says, "not in English, but in a strange 
jargon of words that would have made Addison or Milton shud- 
der in despair. ' ' " 


The Future of the Language The great Jakob Grimm, the 
founder of comparative philology, hazarded the guess more than 
three-quarters of a century ago that English would one day be- 

i 5 A Plea for the Queen's English, p. 244. 

is Life and Letters of E. C. Stedman, ed. by Laura Stedman and George 
M. Gould; New York, 1910, vol. i, p. 477. 

IT Governor M. R. Patterson, of Tennessee, in an address before the Na- 
tional Anti-Saloon League at Washington, Dec. 13, 1917. 


come the chief language of the world, and perhaps crowd out 
several of the then principal idioms altogether. "In wealth, 
wisdom and strict economy," he said, "none of the other living 
languages can vie with it." At that time the guess was bold, 
for English was still in fifth place, with not only French and 
German ahead of it, but also Spanish and Russian. In 1801, 
according to Michael George Mulhall, the relative standing of 
the five, in the number of persons using them, was as follows : 

French 31,450,000 

Russian 30,770,000 

German 30,320,000 

Spanish 26,190,000 

English 20,520,000 

The population of the United States was then but little more 
than 5,000,000, but in twenty years it had nearly doubled, and 
thereafter it increased steadily and enormously, and by 1860 
it was greater than that of the United Kingdom. Since that 
time the majority of English-speaking persons in the world have 
lived on this side of the water; today there are nearly three 
times as many as in the United Kingdom and nearly twice as 
many as in the whole British Empire. This great increase in 
the American population, beginning with the great immigrations 
of the 30 's and 40 's, quickly lifted English to fourth place among 
the languages, and then to third, to second and to first. When 
it took the lead the attention of philologists was actively di- 
rected to the matter, and in 1868 one of them, a German named 
Brackebusch, first seriously raised the question whether Eng- 
lish was destined to obliterate certain of the older tongues. 18 
Brackebusch decided against on various philological grounds, 

is Long before this the general question of the relative superiority of 
various languages had been debated in Germany. In 1796 the Berlin Acad- 
emy offered a prize for the best essay on The Ideal of a Perfect Language. 
It was won by one Jenisch with a treatise bearing the sonorous title of 
A Philosophico-Critical Comparison and Estimate of Fourteen of the An- 
cient and Modern Languages of Europe, viz., Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, 
Portuguese, French, German, Dutch, English, Danish, Swedish, Polish, Rus- 
sian and Lithuanian. 


none of them sound. His own figures, as the following table 
from his dissertation shows, 19 were against him: 

English 60,000,000 

German 52,000,000 

Russian 45,000,000 

French 45,000,000 

Spanish 40,000,000 

This in 1868. Before another generation had passed the lead 
of English, still because of the great growth of the United States, 
was yet more impressive, as the following figures for 1890 show : 

English 111,100,000 

German 75,200,000 

Russian 75,000,000 

French 51,200,000 

Spanish 42,800,000 

Italian 33,400,000 

Portuguese 13,000,000 20 

Today the figures exceed even these. They show that Eng- 
lish is now spoken by two and a half times as many persons as 
spoke it at the close of the American Civil War and by nearly 
eight times as many as spoke it at the beginning of the nine- 
teenth century. No other language has spread in any such pro- 
portions. Even German, which is next on the list, shows but a 
four-fold gain since 1801, or just half that of English. The 
number of persons speaking Russian, despite the vast extension 
of the Russian empire during the last century of the czars, has 
little more than tripled, and the number speaking French has 
less than doubled. But here are the figures for 1911: 

English 160,000,000 

German 130,000,000 

Russian 100,000,000 

French 70,000,000 

Spanish 50,000,000 

i Is English Destined to Become the Universal Language ?, by W. 
Brackebusch; Gottingen, 1868. 

20 I take these figures from A Modern English Grammar, by H. G. Bueh- 
ler; New York, 1900, p. 3. 


Italian 50,000,000 

Portuguese 25,000,000 21 

Japanese, perhaps, should follow French: it is spoken by 
60,000,000 persons. But Chinese may be disregarded, for it 
is split into half a dozen mutually unintelligible dialects, and 
shows no sign of spreading beyond the limits of China. The 
same may be said of Hindustani, which is the language of 100,- 
000,000 inhabitants of British India; it shows wide dialectical 
variations and the people who speak it are not likely to spread. 
But English is the possession of a race that is still pushing in 
all directions, and wherever that race settles the existing lan- 
guages tend to succumb. Thus French, despite the passionate 
resistance of the French- Canadians, is gradually decaying in 
Canada; in all the newly-settled regions English is universal. 
And thus Spanish is dying out in our own Southwest, and 
promises to meet with severe competition in some of the nearer 
parts of Latin- America. The English control of the sea has 
likewise carried the language into far places. There is scarcely 
a merchant ship-captain on deep water, of whatever nationality, 
who does not find some acquaintance with it necessary, and it 
has become, in debased forms, the lingua franca of Oceanica and 
the Far East generally. "Three-fourths of the world's mail 
matter," says E. H. Babbitt, "is now addressed in English," 
and "more than half of the world's newspapers are printed in 
English." 22 

Brackebusch, in the speculative paper just mentioned, came 
to the conclusion that the future domination of English would 
be prevented by its unphonetic spelling, its grammatical decay 
and the general difficulties that a foreigner encounters in seek- 
ing to master it. "The simplification of its grammar," he said, 
"is the commencement of dissolution, the beginning of the end, 
and its extraordinary tendency to degenerate into slang of 

21 World Almanac, 1914, p. 63. 

- 22 The Geography of Great Languages, World's Work, Feb., 1908, p. 9907. 
Babbitt predicts that by the year 2000 English will be spokne by 1,100,- 
000.000 persons, as against 500,000,000 speakers of Russian, 300,000,000 
of Spanish, 160,000,000 of German and 60,000,000 of French. 


every kind is the foreshadowing of its approaching dismember- 
ment. " But in the same breath he was forced to admit that 
"the greater development it has obtained" was the result of 
this very simplification of grammar, and an inspection of the 
rest of his reasoning quickly shows its unsoundness, even with- 
out an appeal to the plain facts. The spelling of a language, 
whether it be phonetic or not, has little to do with its spread. 
Very few men learn it by studying books ; they learn it by hear- 
ing it spoken.. . As for grammatical decay, it is not a sign of 
dissolution, but a sign of active life and constantly renewed 
strength. To the professional philologist, perhaps, it may some- 
times appear otherwise. He is apt to estimate languages by 
looking at their complexity; the Greek aorist elicits his admi- 
ration because it presents enormous difficulties and is inordi- 
nately subtle. But the object of language is not to bemuse gram- 
marians, but to convey ideas, and the more simply it accom- 
plishes that object the more effectively it meets the needs of 
an energetic and practical people and the larger its inherent 
vitality. The history of every language of Europe, since the 
earliest days of which we have record, is a history of simplifica- 
tions. Even such languages as German, which still cling to a 
great many exasperating inflections, including the absurd in- 
flection of the article for gender, are less highly inflected than 
they used to be, and are proceeding slowly but surely toward 
analysis. The fact that English has gone further along that 
road than any other civilized tongue is not a proof of its de- 
crepitude, but a proof of its continued strength. Brought into 
free competition with another language, say German or French 
or Spanish, it is almost certain to prevail, if only because it is 
vastly easier that is, as a spoken language to learn. The for- 
eigner essaying it, indeed, finds his chief difficulty, not in mas- 
tering its forms, but in grasping its lack of forms. He doesn't 
have to learn a new and complex grammar; what he has to 
do is to forget grammar. 

Once he has done so, the rest is a mere matter of acquiring 
a vocabulary. He can make himself understood, given a few 
nouns, pronouns, verbs and numerals, without troubling him- 


self in the slightest about accidence. "Me see she" is bad 
English, perhaps, but it would be absurd to say that it is ob- 
scure and on some not too distant tomorrow it may be very 
fair American. Essaying an inflected language, the beginner 
must go into the matter far more deeply before he may hope to 
be understood. Bradley, in ' ' The Making of English, ' ' 23 shows 
clearly how German and English differ in this respect, and how 
great is the advantage of English. In the latter the verb sing 
has but eight forms, and of these three are entirely obsolete, 
one is obsolescent, and two more may be dropped out without 
damage to comprehension. In German the corresponding verb, 
singen, has no less than sixteen forms. How far English has 
proceeded toward the complete obliteration of inflections is shown 
by such barbarous forms of it as Pigeon English and Beach-la- 
Mar, in which the final step is taken without appreciable loss 
of clarity. The Pigeon English verb is identical in all tenses. 
Go stands for both went and gone; makee is both make and made. 
In the same way there is no declension of the pronoun for case. 
My is thus /, me, mine and our own my. "No belong my" is 
"it is not mine" a crude construction, of course, but still 
clearly intelligible. Chinamen learn Pigeon English in a few 
months, and savages in the South Seas master Beach-la-Mar 
almost as quickly. And a white man, once he has accustomed 
himself to either, finds it strangely fluent and expressive. He 
cannot argue politics in it, nor dispute upon transubstantiation, 
but for all the business of every day it is perfectly satisfactory. 

As we have seen in Chapters V and VI, the American dialect 
of English has gone further along the road thus opened ahead 
than the mother dialect, and is moving faster. For this reason, 
and because of the fact that it is already spoken by a far larger 
and more rapidly multiplying body of people than the latter, it 
seems to me very likely that it will determine the final form of 
the language. For the old control of English over American to 
be reasserted is now quite unthinkable; if the two dialects are 
not to drift apart entirely English must follow in American's 
tracks. This yielding seems to have begun ; the exchanges from 

23 p. 5 et seq. 


American into English grow steadily larger and more important 
than the exchanges from English into American. John Richard 
Green, the historian, discerning the inevitable half a century ago, 
expressed the opinion, amazing and unpalatable then, that the 
Americans were already "the main branch of the English peo- 
ple." It is not yet wholly true; a cultural timorousness yet 
shows itself; there is still a class which looks to England as the 
Romans long looked to Greece. But it is not the class that is 
shaping the national language, and it is not the class that is 
carrying it beyond the national borders. The Americanisms 
that flood the English of Canada are not borrowed from the dia- 
lects of New England Loyalists and fashionable New Yorkers, 
but from the common speech that has its sources in the native 
and immigrant proletariat and that displays its gaudiest freight- 
age in the newspapers. 

The impact of this flood is naturally most apparent in Can- 
ada, whose geographical proximity and common interests com- 
pletely obliterate the effects of English political and social 
dominance. By an Order in Council, passed in 1890, the use 
of the redundant u in such words as honor and labor is official 
in Canada, but practically all the Canadian newspapers omit 
it. In the same way the American flat a has swept whole sec- 
tions of the country, and American slang is everywhere used, and 
the American common speech prevails almost universally in the 
newer provinces. More remarkable is the influence that Amer- 
ican has exerted upon the speech of Australia and upon the crude 
dialects of Oceanica and the Far East. One finds such obvious 
Americanisms as tomahawk, boss, bush, canoe, go finish (== to 
die) and pickaninny in Beach-la-Mar 24 and more of them in 
Pigeon English. And one observes a very large number of 
American words and phrases in the slang of Australia. The 
Australian common speech, in pronunciation and intonation, 
resembles Cockney English, and a great many Cockneyisms are 
in it, but despite the small number of Americans in the Anti- 

24 Cf. Beach-la-Mar, by William Churchill, former United States consul- 
general in Samoa and Tonga. The pamphlet is published by the Carnegie 
Institution of Washington. 


podes it has adopted, of late, so many Americanisms that a Cock- 
ney visitor must often find it difficult. Among them are the' 
verb and verb-phrases, to beef, to biff, to bluff, to bo*s, to break / 
away, to chase one's self, to chew the rag, to chip in, to fade i 
away, to get it in the neck, to back and fill, to plug along, to get 
sore, to turn down and to get wise; the substantives, dope, boss, 
fake, creek, knockout-drops and push (in the sense of crowd) -,J 
the adjectives, hitched (in the sense of married) and tough (as 
before luck), and the adverbial phrases, for keeps and going 
strong. 25 Here, in direct competition with English locutions, 
and with all the advantages on the side of the latter, American 
is making steady progress. 

"This American language," says a recent observer, "seems 
to be much more of a pusher than the English. For instance, 
after eight years' occupancy of the Philippines it was spoken 
by 800,000, or 10 per cent, of the natives, while after an occu- 
pancy of 150 of India by the British, 3,000,000, or one per cent, 
of the natives speak English. " 28 I do vouch for the figures. 
They may be inaccurate, in detail, but they at least state what 
seems to be a fact. Behind that fact are phenomena which cer- 
tainly deserve careful study, and, above all, study divested of 
unintelligent prejudice. The attempt to make American uni- 
form with English has failed ingloriously ; the neglect of its in- 
vestigation is an evidence of snobbishness that is a folly of the 
same sort. It is useless to dismiss the growing peculiarities of 
the American vocabulary and of grammar and syntax in the 
common speech as vulgarisms beneath serious notice. Such vul- 
garisms have a way of intrenching themselves, and gathering 
dignity as they grow familiar. "There are but few forms in \\ 
use," says Lounsbury, "which, judged by a standard previ- \\ 
ously existing, would not be regarded as gross barbarisms. ' ' 2T 
Each language, in such matters, is a law unto itself, and each 
vigorous dialect, particularly if it be-spoken by millions, is a 

25 A glossary of latter-day Australian slang is in Doreen and the Senti- 
mental Bloke, by C. J. Dennis; New York, 1916. 

26 The American Language, by J. F. Healy; Pittsburgh, 1910, p. 6. 

27 History of the English Language, p. 476. 


law no less. "It would be as wrong," says Sayce, "to use thou 
for the nominative thee in the Somersetshire dialect as it is to 
say thee art instead of you are in the Queen's English." All 
the American dialect needs, in the long run, to make even peda- 
gogues acutely aware of it, is a poet of genius to venture into 
it, as Chaucer ventured into the despised English of his day, 
and Dante into the Tuscan dialect, and Luther, in his trans- 
lation of the Bible, into peasant German. Walt Whitman made 
a half attempt and then drew back ; Lowell, perhaps, also heard 
the call, but too soon. The Irish dialect of English, vastly less 
important than the American, has already had its interpreters 
Douglas Hyde, John Milington Synge and Augusta Gregory 
and with what extraordinary results we all know. Here we 
have writing that is still indubitably English, but English rid 
of its artificial restraints and broken to the less self-conscious 
grammar and syntax of a simple and untutored folk. Synge, in 
his preface to "The Playboy of the Western World," 28 tells 
us how he got his gypsy phrases "through a chink in the floor 
of the old Wicklow house where I was staying, that let me hear 
what was being said by the servant girls in the kitchen. ' ' There 
is no doubt, he goes on, that "in the happy ages of literature 
striking and beautiful phrases were as ready to the story-teller's 
or the playwright's hand as the rich cloaks and dresses of his 
time. It is probable that when the Elizabethan dramatist took 
his ink-horn and sat down to his work he used many phrases 
that he had just heard, as he sat at dinner, from his mother or 
his children." 

The result, in the case of the neo-Celts, is a dialect that stands 
incomparably above the tight English of the grammarians a 
dialect so naif, so pliant, so expressive, and, adeptly managed, 
so beautiful that even purists have begun to succumb to it, and 
it promises to leave lasting marks upon English style. The 
American dialect has not yet come to that stage. In so far as it 
is apprehended at all it is only in the sense that Irish-English 
was apprehended a generation ago that is, as something un- 

28 Dublin, 1907. See also ch. ii of Ireland's Literary Renaissance, by 
Ernest A. Boyd; New York, 1916. 



couth and comic. But that is the way that new dialects always 
come in through a drum-fire of cackles. Given the poet, there 
may suddenly come a day when our their ns and would' a hads 
will take on the barbaric stateliness of the peasant locutions of 
old Maurya in "Eiders to the Sea." They seem grotesque and 
absurd today because the folks who use them seem grotesque and 
absurd. But that is a too facile logic and under it is a false 
assumption. In all human beings, if only understanding be 
brought to the business, dignity will be found, and that dignity 
cannot fail to reveal itself, soon or late, in the words and 
phrases with which they make known their high hopes and as- 
pirations and cry out against the intolerable ineaninglessness of 


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List of Words and Phrases 

The parts of speech are indicated only when it is desirable for clearness. 
lowing abbreviations are used: 

The fol 

a. adjective 

n. noun 

ntf. suffix 

adv. adverb 

pref. prefix 

v. verb 

art. article 

pro. pronoun 

vp. verb-phrase. 

a, art., 62, 154, 267; particle, 

afoot, 97. 

amachoor, 238. 

207; pref., 92. 

afterwards, 147, 148. 

amass, 95. 

&-sound, 11, 68-60, 94-5, 

against, 91. 

ambish, 160. 

102, 173-4, 176. 

agenda, 100. 

ambition, n., 160; v., 49. 

Aarons, 280 

agent, 121. 

Americanism, 38. 

aber nicht, 152. 

ag'in, 91. 

Americanize, 77. 

aber nit, 152, 308, 311. 

aggravate, 77. 

Ames, 275. 

abgefaked, v., 156. 

a-going, 92. 

amigo, 158. 

aboard, 92. 

Ahrens, 280. 

am not, 210. 

abolitionist, 83. 

ai-gound, 95, 96. 

an, art., 62, 95, 267. 

above, 262. 

ain't, 145, 146, 204, 210. 

anaemia, 242, 245, 257, ', 

Abraham, 280n. 

air-line, 82, 105. 

a-fi-aice, 92. 

absquatulate, v., 82. 

airplane, 263. 

Ananias club, 306. 

abuv, 262. 

aisle-manager, 124. 

anatomy, 95. 

accept, 77n. 

aker, 250, 252, 254. 

Anderson, 272. 

acceptum, 77n. 

alabastine, 165. 

andiron, 56. 

accommodation-train, 82. 

alarm, 264. 

and no mistake, 92. 

accouchement, 127. 

alarmist, 33. 

Andr6, 275. 

achtel, 113. 

alarum, 264. 

Andrews, 275. 

acre, 250, 252, 254. 

Albert, 275. 

a-near, 92. 

acute, 160. 

Albrecht, 275. 

anemia, 242, 262. 

acy, suf., 77. 

Albright, 275. 

aneurism, 242. 

ad, 142, 160. 

alderman, 47. 

aneurysm, 242. 

Adamic, 73. 

alfalfa, 109. 

angry, 79, 99. 

ad-card, 160. 

allay-foozee, 90. 

Anheuser, 153, 276. 

addition, 50. 

Allegany, 296. 

anilin, 262. 

addressograph, 165. 

Alleghany, 296. 

Anne Arundel, 297. 

ad-man, 160. 

Allegheny, 296. 

annex, 242, 258n. 

admitted to the bar, vp. 108. 

allez-fusil, 90. 

annexe, n., 242, 245 I 

adobe, 87. 

all-fired, 129. 

258n, 260. 

ad-rate, 160. 

allot upon, 31. 

A No. 1, 161. 

advertisement, 160, 169, 176. 

allow, 33. 

antagonize, 49, 136. 

advertize, 262. 

all right, 157. 

ante, n., 87; v., 202. 

advocate, v., 27, 48, 49, 51. 

allright, 263n. 

anteriour, 248n. 

ad-writer, 160. 

allrightnick, 156. 

ante up, v., 87, 111. 

adze, 56. 

ally, n., 170. 

anti, 87. 

aeon, 243. 

almoner, 112. 

anti-fogmatic, IR. 

aero, a., 160. 

alright, 27, 263. 

antmire, 126. 

aeroplane, a., 160. 

also, 34. 

anxious-bench, 83, 84. 

aeroplane, n., 263. 

altho, 262, 263. 

anxious-seat, 84 

aeroplane, n., 263n. 

aluminium, 264. 

any, 237. 

aesthetics, 257. 

aluminum, 264. 

anyways, 147, 229. 

aetiology, 257. 

always, 229. 

apartment, 110. 

affiliate, 77. 

am, 193, 209. 

apern, 239. 






apossoun, 40. 

appendices, 265. 

apple, 173. 

apple-jack, 85. 

apple-pie, 18. 

appreciate, 49. 

approbate, 56. 

arbor, 242. 

Arbor day, 114. 

arboreal, 247. 

arbour, 242. 

ardor, 253. 

are, 209. 

a'ready, 238. 

Arens, 280. 

aren't, 146, 210. 

are you there? 103. 

a-riding, 92. 

Arkansas, 298. 

Armistead, 274. 

armor, 242. 

armory, 247. 

armour, 242. 

Armstadt, 274. 

arriv'd, 201n. 

arse, 129. 

ary, suf., 170. 

as, 223. 

ash-can, 97, 102. 

ash-man, 102. 

ask, 59, 94, 238. 

askutasquash, 41, 160. 

asphalt, 242, 252, 257. 

asphalte, 242, 245, 256, 257, 


ass, 129. 

assistant-master, 104. 
assistant-mistress, 104. 
Assistant Secretary of the 

Interior, 122. 
associational, 30. 
assurance, 109. 
ast, 238. 
a tall, 234. 
at, 95, 146. 
ataxia, 242, 246. 
ataxy, 242. 

ate, v., 194, 205; suf., 77. 
attack, 193. 
attackted, 193, 201. 
au-*ownd, 276. 
aunt, 58, 59, 94, 173. 
auto, n., 110, 160; v., 110. 
autocar, 165. 
automobile, 160. 
autsch, 89. 
autumn, 10, 14. 
avenue, 299. 

-aound, 95, 175, 276. 
awful, 306. 
awfully, 306. 
aw re-vore, 241. 

awry-eyed, 85. 
ax, 242, 252, 256, 257. 
axe, 242, 245, 256, 257, 260, 

baby, 155. 

baby-carriage, 97, 139. 
baccalaureate, 124. 
bach, suf., 275. 
back and fill, vp., 78, 319. 
back and forth, 31. 
back-country, 46. 
backfisch, 308n. 
back-garden, 139. 
back-log, 46. 
back-number, 81. 
back pedal, vp., 142. 
back-settlements, 46. 
back-settler, 46. 
back-talk, 10, 81. 
back-taxes, 81. 
backward and forward, 81. 
back water, vp., 78. 
backwoods, a., 48; n., 46, 48. 
backwoodsman, 40, 46, 48, 


back-yard, 97, 110, 139. 
bad, adv., 146, 227. 
bad boy, 157. 
baddest, 230. 
baggage, 31, 97. 
baggage-car, 97. 
baggage-check, 82. 
baggage-master, 82. 
baggage-room, 82. 
baggage-smasher, 82. 
bagman, 98. 
Bailey, 274. 
bailiff, 107n, 254. 
Baker, 277. 
Bakerloo, 112. 
balance, 50. 
Bald, 288. 
balk, 242. 
ballast, 97. 

balled-up, a., 142, 164. 
ballot, n., 107. 
ballot-box stuffer, 107. 
ball up, vp., 142n, 164. 
ballyhoo, 92. 
ballyhoo-man, 93. 
balm, 59. 
Baltimore, 297. 
ban, 59. 
banditti, 265. 
bandore, 44. 
bandurria, 44. 
band-wagon, 14. 
bang-up, a., 164. 
bania, 44. 
banjo, 44. 
bank, n., 107. 

bank-account, 107. 
bank-bill, 31. 
bankers, 107. 
bank-holiday, 99, 114. 
banking-account, 107. 
bank-note, 31. 
bankrup, 238. 
banner-state, 83, 84. 
bar, 58. 

barbecue, 40, 43. 
barber-shop, 124. 
bafber's-shop, 124. 
bargain, n., 155; v., 137. 
baritone, 242, 246. 
bark, n., 242, 246, 247, 257, 

258, 263. 
bark up the wrong tree, vp. 

33, 79. 

barmaid, 105. 
barman, 105. 
barn, 52. 
barque, 242, 258. 
barrel, 163. 
barrel-house, 85. 
barrens, 46, 294. 
barrister, 108. 
bartender, 14, 85, 105. 
barytone, 242. 
basket, 59, 155. 
basswood, 45. 
bat, n., 85. 
bath, 59, 97. 
bath-tub, 97. 
batl, 262. 

Baton Rouge, 291. 
batteau, 43, 47, 86, 111. 
batting-average, 111. 
battle, 262. 
bauer, 89. 
Bauer, 275. 
baugh, suf., 275. 
baulk, 239, 242, 245. 
Baumann, 275. 
Bayle, 274. 
bayou, 30, 86. 
Bay State, 33. 
bay-window, 56, 
be, 193, 209. 
bean, 193n. 
beat, v., 164, 193. 
beaten, 193. 
beat it, vp., 164. 
Beauchamp, 283. 
Beaufort, 291. 
beau pre\ 41. 
beaut, 160, 310. 
beautifuller, 230. 
beautifullest, 230. 
beauty, 160. 
beaver, 288, 294. 
Beaver Moon, 4wn. 
became, 193. 



Becker, 271, 277. 

become, 193. 

bed-bug, 125n. 

bedibbert, a., 151n. 

bedroom, 155. 

beef, n., 56; v., 319. 

beefsteak, 88n. 

bee-line, 47. 

been, 175, 176, 238. 

beet, 97, 104, 109. 

beet-root, 97, 104, 109. 

began, 193. 

begin, 193. 

begob, 91. 

begorry, 91. 

begun, 193. 

behavior, 242. 

behoove, 242, 261. 

behove, 242, 260. 

beinkel, 156. 

belgiumize, 164. 

Belgravia, 139. 

belittle, 33, 49, 135. 

Bellair, 292. 

beller, 239. 

Bellevue, 292. 

bell-hop, 81. 

Belmont, 277. 

beloved, 201. 

Belvedere, 292. 

ben, 193, 209. 

bend, v., 193. 

benefice, 112. 

bent, v., 193, 201. 

Berg, 276. 

Berger, 276. 

Bermingham, 286n. 

beside, 147. 

besides, 147. 

best of the bunch, 308, 310. 

bet, v., 193. 

betrayed, 127. 

better, 230. 

betterment, 31, 81. 

better'n, 231. 

bet your life, vp., 92. 

bevo, 165. 

bevo-officer, 166n. 

bhoy, 92. 

bid, n., 97. 

biff, v., 310, 319. 

big-bug, 81. 

big-chief, 86. 

big-stick, 306. 

bile, 34, 91, 236. 

bill, 106. 

bill-board, 27, 97. 

billion, 80. 

bilt, 251. 

bin, v., 193, 209. 

bind, 193. 

bindery, 48. 

biograph, v., 142. 

biplan, 263n. 

bird, 310. 

Birdsong, 277. 

birthday, 155. 

biscuit, 53, 98. 

bishop, 85. 

bit, v., 193, 207, 208. 

bitch, 125, 126. 

bite, v., 193, 207, 208. 

bitten, 193, 207, 208. 

Bittinger, 276. 

Black, 274, 277. 

black-country, 109. 

black-hand, 151. 

black-stripe, 85. 

blast, 59. 

bleachers, 105, 111, 162. 

bled, 194. 

bleed, 194. 

bleeding, 130. 

blew, 194, 204. 

blighter, 129. 

blind-baggage, 83n. 

blind-pig, 85. 

blind- tiger, 33. 

blizzard, 80, 109. 

Bloch, 274. 

block, 109, 110, 306. 

Block, 224. 

block-head, 309. 

Block island, 290. 

blofista, 135n. 

blooded, 50. 

blood-poison, 127. 

bloody, 130. 

Bloom, 275. 

bloomer, 80. 

Bloomingdale, 280. 

blouse, 100, 103. 

blow, v., 49, 194, 204. 

blowed, 194, 204. 

blow-out, 81. 

Blucher, 97. 

blue, 174. 

blue-blazer, 85. 

blue-grass, 45, 109. 

bluff, n., 46; v., 135, 157, 

202, 319. 
bluffer, 156, 157. 
blufferke', 157. 
Blum, 275, 276. 
Blumenthal, 280. 
blutwurst, 88. 
bo, 161. 
board, v., 102. 
boarder, 97, 102, 124. 
board-school, 100, 104. 
board-walk, 97. 
bobby, 105. 
Bob Ruly, 291. 
boche, 278. 

bock-beer, 88. 

bog, 46, 109. 

bogie, 83, 101. 

bogus, 43, 51. 

bohick, 279. 

Bohumil, 277. 

bohunk, 279. 

boil, v., 91, 91n. 

Boileau, 276. 

boiled-shirt, 81. 

bolt, v., 84. 

bolter, 83, 84. 

bonanza, 87. 

Bonaparte, 273. 

Bonansa umbrellus, 53. 

Bon Coeur, 274. 

bond, 97, 106n. 

bone-head, 129, 162, 309. 

Bon Pas, 274. 

boob, 14, 129, 133, 160. 

booby, 160. 

boodle, n., 132 ; v., 84. 

boodler, 84, 156. 

book, v., 106. 

bookbinder's-shop, 48. 

Booker, 277. 

booking-office, 83, 101, 106. 

bookseller's-shop, 31. 

book-store, 31. 

boom, n., 156, 310; v., 24, 


boomer, 77 
boom-town, 77. 
boost, n., 14, 132; v., 77, 

boot, 19n, 52, 53, 97, 100, 

105, 137. 
boot-form, 100. 
boot-lace, 100. 
boot-maker, 52, 100. 
boot-shop, 52, 137. 
booze-foundry, 310. 
booze-hister, 236. 
Bordox, 241. 
boro, suf., 296. 
borough, /., 296. 
bosom, 126. 
boss, n., 14, 30, 43, 107, 133. 

319; v., 77, 319. 
boss-rule, 83. 
bother, 155. 
bottom-dollar, 81. 
bottom-land, 31. 
borroms, 46. 
bought, 194, 205. 
boughten, v., 191, 194, 201, 


boulevard, 153, 240, 299. 
bouncer, 77, 85, 107. 
bound, 193. 
bound'ry, 238. 
Bourbon, 300. 



bourgeois, 114. 

bower, 89. 

Bowers, 275. 

bowler, 98, 103, 139. 

Bowman, 276. 

bowsprit, 41. 

box, 101, 106. 

box-car, 82. 

box-office, 106. 

boy, 155, 156, 157. 

boychick, 156. 

Boys Boo-long, 240. 

Bozart, 265n. 

braces, 19n, 101, 104, 259. 

bracken, 46. 

Braham, 280n. 

brain-storm, 142. 

brainy, 79. 

brakeman, 97. 

brakesman, 97. 

branch, 46, 59. 

brand-new, 172. 

brandy-champarelle, 85. 

brandy-crusta, 85. 

brang, v., 194. 

bran-new, 172, 238. 

brash, 79. 

brave, n., 86. 

Braun, 272. 

breadstuffs, 40, 50. 

break, 194. 

break away, vp., 319. 

break-bone, 309. 

breakdown, 44. 

brethern, 239. 

breve, 113. 

brevier, 114. 

brevis, 113. 

briar, 260. 

bricke, 156. 

Bridgewater, 273. 

brief, v., 108. 

brier, 261. 

Brill, 276. 

brilliant, n., 114. 

bring, 194. 

broad-gauge man,, 83n. 

Broadway, 300. 

broke, 194. 

broken, 194. 

broker, 106-7. 

broncho, 86. 

broncho-buster, 87. 

Brooklyn, 290. 

broom, 155. 

brothel, 127. 

brought, 194. 

Brown, 271. 

brown-boots, 110. 

Brown-shoes, 110. 

Briihl, 276. 

brung, 194, 199. 

brusque, 174. 

bryanize, 163. 

bub, 56. 

Buchanan, 282. 

Bucher, 277. 

buck, n., 126; v., 239. 

bucket, 97, 105. 

bucket-shop, 135. 

Buckeye, 33. 

Buck Moon, 42n. 

buck-private, 142. 

buckra, 30. 

buck the tiger, vp., 79. 

buckwheat, 18. 

Buffalo, 294. 

buffer, 97. 

buffet, 124. 

bug, 125. 

bugaboo, 80. 

build, 194. 

built, 194, 201, 251. 

bull, 126. 

bulldoze, 78, 83. 

bull-frog, 45. 

bully, a., 231. 

bum, a., 24, 88; adv., 24, 

88; n., 24, 88, 89, 125. 156, 

161; v., 24. 
bummel-zug, 88n. 
bummer, 24, 88, 88n, 161. 
bummerke", 156. 
bummery, 88. 
bummler, 24, 88, 88n. 
bump, 307. 
bumper, 82, 97. 
Bumpus, 274. 
bunch, 156, 308. 
bunco, 14n, 23. 
buncombe, 23, 80, 83, 135, 


bunco-steerer, 14. 
bund, suf., 151, 152. 
bung-starter, 86. 
bunk, 23. 
Bunker, 274. 
bunkum, 135, 242. 
bunned, 85. 
bunt, v., 202. 
burden, 242, 257. 
bureau, 33, 43, 97. 
burg, suf., 296. 
burgh, suf., 296. 
Burgh de Walter, 273. 
burglarize, 24. 
burgle, 77, 77n. 
burgoo-picnic, 109. 
burlesk, 264. 
burly, 67. 
burn, 158, 194. 
burned, 194n. 
burnt, 194, 294. 
burro, 87. 

burst, 24, 143, 194, 202. 

burthen, 242, 257. 

bursh, a., 142; n., 43, 318, 

busher, 111. 

bush-league, 43. 

bushwhacker, 43. 

business, 41. 

bust, n., 24, 85; v., 24, 34. 

143, 194, 202, 238. 
busted, 143n, 194, 202. 
buster, 143n. 
bustle, v., 307. 
butcher, 155. 
butcher-store, 157. 
butt, v., 164. 
butte, 86, 294. 
butter-nut, 45. 
but that, 146, 233. 
butt in, vp., 142, 164. 
buttinski, 34, 162. 
button, 155. 
but what, 218. 
buy, 194. 
buzz-saw, 80. 
buzz-wagon, 163. 
by God, 129. 
by golly, 129. 
by gosh, 129. 
by-law, 98. 
byre, 47. 

cabane, 93. 

cabaret, 153. 

caboose, 43, 82. 

each, 262. 

cache, 30, 43. 

cachexia, 242. 

cachexy, 242. 

cadet, 127, 156. 

Cadogen, 282. 

caf6, 124, 153, 240, 264. 

cag, 250, 252. 

Cahn, 280. 

Cailll, 274. 

Cains, 283. 

cake-walk, 81. 

calaboose, 30, 43. 

calamity-howler, 81. 

calculate, 31. 

calendar, 97. 

calf, 173. 

caliber, 242, 257, 260, 261. 

calibre, 242, 250, 257. 

calico, 103. 

Calif ornia-r, 171. 

calk, 260. 

called to the bar, vp., 108. 

Callowhill, 282. 

calm, 59, 174. 

calumet, 42. 

calvary, 238. 

Calvert, 898. 



came, 194, 205. 

camerado, 73. 

camouflage, v., 135n, 142, 


camorra, 152. 
Camp, 282. 
campaign, 97, 107. 
camp-meeting, 47. 
campus, 80, 105. 
can, n., 97, 102, 105; v., 

102, 194. 
candidacy, 83. 
candor, 242. 
candour, 242. 
candy, 97, 103. 
candy-store, 14. 
cane, 97, 110. 
cane-brake, 46. 
canned-goods, 97, 102. 
cannon-ball, 124. 
cannoo, llln. 
canoa, llln. 
canoe, 41, 47, 111, 318. 
canon, 112, 122, 265, 294, 

see also canyon, 
canon, gee canyon, 
can't, 102. 
can't come it, 31. 
canuck, 86, 279. 
canvas-back, 45. 
canvass, 97, 107. 
canyon, 86, 112, 122, 265, 


capitalize, 33. 
capote Allemande, 279n. 
capote Anglaise, 279n. 
Captain, 118. 
cap the climax, vp., 78. 
car, 59, 98. 
card, 33, 171. 
card up his sleeve, vp., Ill, 


caretaker, 99, 110. 
caribou, 43. 
Carl, 283n. 

carnival of crime, 81. 
Caron, 274. 
Carpenter, 276, 280. 
carpet, 155. 
carpet-bagger, 83. 
carriage, 98. 
carriage-paid, 100, 103. 
carrier, 83, 98. 
carriole, 43. 
carry-all, 43, 48. 
cart, 174. 
Casalegno, 277. 
cash in, vp., 111. 
castle, 59. 
catalog, 262, 26S. 
catalpa, 40. 
cat-bird, 46. 

cat-boat, 47, 48. 

catch, v., 91, 194, 237, 262. 

catch'n, 157. 

caterpillar, 173. 

Catholic, 113. 

ca'tridge, 238. 

catty-cornered, 57. 

cau-cau-as-u, 131n. 

caucus, n., 30, 40, 83, 131, 

135; v., 48. 
caucusdom, 132. 
caucuser, 132. 
caught, 194. 
caulkers, 132n. 
cause-list, 97. 
cave in, vp., 31. 
cavort, 49. 
cayuse, 87. 
ceiling, 155, 156. 
cellarette, 165. 
cent, 47, 139. 
center, 242, 260, 294. 
centre, 242, 250. 
certainly, 228. 
cesspool, 56. 
c'est moi, 220. 
ch-sound, 96, 274. 
chain-gang, 80. 
chair, 126, 155, 156. 
chair-car, 82. 
chairman, 106. 
chair-warmer, 10, 81. 
chambers, 110. 
champ, 100. 
champeen, 237. 
champion, 160, 237. 
chancellor, 104. 
chance't, 238. 
Chandler, 280. 
change, 155. 
channel, 109. 
chapel, 112. 
chapparal, 30, 86. 
chapter, 112. 
char, 56, 137. 
charge it, 103. 
Charles, 286n. 
charqui, 43. 
charwoman, 137. 
chase, 46. 
chaser, 85. 

chase one's self, vp., 319. 
chassl, 240. 
chaufer, 265n. 
Chauncey, 285. 
chautauqua, 113. 
chaw, 91. 
Cheapside, 300. 
check, n., 106, 242, 246, 256. 
checkered, 242, 261. 
checkers, 98. ^/ 
cherkinqumin, 41. 

cheer, n., 237. 
chef d'oeuvre, 240. 
chemist, 98, 252. 
chemist's-shop, 98. 
cheque, 106, 242, 256, 257, 


chequered, 242, 260. 
chest of drawers, 97. 
chevalier, 251. 
chew, 91. 

chew the rag, vp., 319. 
chick, /., 156. 
chicken, 308. 
chicken-yard, 98. 
chief-clerk, 98. 
chief-constable, 105. 
chief-of-police, 105. 
chief-reporter, 98. 
childern, 239. 
chimbley, 238. 
chimist, 252. 
chinch, 56. 
Chinee, 229. 

chink, n., 279; v., 24, 77. 
chinkapin, 40. 
chip in, vp., Ill, 319. 
chipmunk, 40. 
chipped-beef, 80. 
chist, 237. 
chit, 158. 

Cholmondeley, 283. 
choose, 194. 
chop-suey, 93. 
chore, 56, 105, 137. 
chose, 194. 
chow, 158. 
chowder, 43. 
Christkind'l, 89. 
Christkindlein, 89. 
chunky, 50. 
church, 112, 113. 
churchman, 113. 
chute, 30, 86. 
cider, 242, 246. 
cinch, n., 14; v., 87. 
cinema, 14, 27, 99. 
cipher, 257. 
circuit-rider, 113. 
circus, 300. 
Cirenester, 297n. 
citified, 77. 
citizenize, 76. 
city, suf., 296. 
City, 106, 139. 
city-ordinance, 98. 
city-stock, 106. 
civil-servant, 105, 106. 
claim-jumper, 81. 
city-editor, 98, 106. 
City Hall, 300. 
City Hall park, square, place, 




City man, 106. 

clam-bake, 109. 

clam-chowder, 109. 

clamor, 242. 

clamorously, 247. 

clamour, 242. 

clang, 194. 

clangor, 242. 

clangorous, 247. 

clangour, 242. 

clap-board, 31, 40, 46. 

class, 104. 

class-day, 105. 

classy, 24, 230. 

claw-hammer, 81. 

cleanlily, 228. 

cleanly, 228. 

clean'n, 157. 

clean-up, 14. 

clearing, n., 46. 

clear the track, vp., 83. 

cleark, n., 19n, 53, 124, 174; 

v., 49. 

clever, 31, 33, 57. 
climb, v., 194, 198. 
climbed, 198. 
Cline, 275n. 
cling, 194. 
clingstone, 45. 
clipped, 201. 
dipt, 201. 
clipping, 98. 
clodhopper, 56. 
clomb, 198. 
closet, 155. 
close't, 238. 
closure, 242. 
cloture, 242. 
cloud-burst, 81, 109. 
clout the sphere, vp., 311. 
club, 154. 
club-car, 82. 
clum, 194, 200. 
clung, 194. 
c'mear, 207. 
coach, v., 111. 
coal-hod, 98. 
coal-oil, 98. 
coal-operator, 139. 
coal-owner, 139. 
coal-scuttle, 98. 
coast, v., 77. 
coat-and-suit, 103. 
coatee, 77. 
cocain, 253, 263. 
cocaine, 160, 253. 
cock, 19n, 100, 126. 
cocktail, 84, 88n. 
C. O. D., 161. 
codfish, a., 24, 79. 
co-ed, 160. 
co-education*!, 160. 

cog, 175. 

Cohen, 271, 280. 

Cohn, 280. 

coiner, 98. 

coke, 160. 

cold-deck, ill. 

Cold Moon, 42n. 

cold-slaw, 43. 

cold-snap, 33, 46, 81, 109. 

Colinus virginianus, 53. 

Collaborating Epidemiolo- 
gist, 122. 

collar, 155. 

collateral, 81. 

colleen, 90. 

collide, 77. 

collide head on, vp., 83n. 

Collins, 280. 

color, 19n, 243. 

colour, 243. 

colourable, 247. 

coloured, 247. 

column-ad, 160. 

combe, 46. 

come, 194, 198, 205, 238. 

come across, vp., 142, 308. 

corned, 198. 

come-down, 81, 142, 164. 

come-on, 133, 311. 

come out at the little end of 
the horn, vp., 33, 79. 

command, 59. 

commencement, 105. 

commission-merchant, 98. 

committee, 107. 

common-loafer, 88. 

commutation-ticket, 82. 

commute, 83, 164. 

commuter, 82. 

company, 107. 

complected, 60. 

compromit, v., 27, 49. 

con, a., n. and v., 160. 

conant, 158. 

concertize, 77. 

conch, 306. 

conduct, 31. 

conduct one's self, vp., 31. 

conductor, 18, 82, 98, 137. 

conductorette, 165. 

confab, 160. 

confabulation, 160. 

confidence, 160. 

con-game, 160. 

congressional, 30, 50. 

con-man, 160. 

Conn, 280. 

connection, 243, 246. 

connexion, 243, 258, 260. 

conniption, 80. 

connisoor, 240. 

eonnisseur, 840. 

Conrad, 278. 

oonsociational, 30, 75, 76. 

consols, 106. 

constable, 99, 105. 

constituency, 107. 

consulting-room, 108. 

consumption, 155, 160. 

consumptionick, 156. 

convey by deed, vp., 48. 

convict, 160. 

convocation, 112. 

Cook, 102, 277. 

cookey, 43. 

cook-general, 102. 

cooler, 85. 

coon, 160. 

Coons, 275. 

copious, 57. 

copperhead, 45. 

cord, n., 110; v., 40. 

cord-wood, 56. 

corn, 18, 52, 53, 98. 

corn-cob, 46. 

corn-crib, 46. 

corn-dodger, 46. 

corned, 85. 

corner, n., 98, 110; v., 77. 

corner-loafer, 88. 

corn-factor, 99. 

corn-fed, 162. 

Cornhill, 300. 

corn-juice, 85. 

Corn Laws, 52. 

corn-market, 139. 

Corn Moon, 42n. 

corn-whiskey, 85. 

corporation, 106. 

corpse-reviver, 85. 

corral, n., 23, 86; v., 24, 87. 

corrector-of-the-press, 100, 


corset, 98, 126. 
coster (monger), 99. 
cosy, 243, 246. 
cotched, 194n. 
cotton, 155. 
Cottonwood, 288, 294. 
cougar, 40. 
could, 194. 
could'a, 194. 
council, 107. 
councillor, 243, 245. 
councilor, 243. 
counselor, 243. 
counsellor, 243. 
counterfeiter, 98. 
count upon, vp., 31. 
court, 254. 
courteous, 174. 
courthouse, uf., 294, 296. 
cove, 294. 
eow-eatcher, 28, 88. 



cow-country, 142. 

cow-creature, 98, 126. 

cowhide, v., 44. 

Coyne, 280. 

coyote, 87, 294. 

cozy, 243, 246, 260, 261. 

crab-cocktail, 109. 

cracker, 52, 53, 98. 

Cracker, 33. 

crack up, vp., 79. 

craft, 95. 

crank, n., 81. 

crap, 237. 

cravat, 99, 104. 

crawfish, v., 77. 

crayfish, 41. 

crazy-quilt, 47. 

cream de mint, 240. 

creator, 266. 

creche, 153. 

credit-trade, 99, 103. 

creek, 46, 51, 108, 319. 

creep, 194. 

creme de menthe, 240. 

Crenshawe, 282. 

creole, 43. 

crop, 194, 200, 238. 

crepe, 264. 

crevasse, 30, 86. 

crew, v., 194, 200. 

crick, 236. 

cricket, 111. 

criminal assault, 127. 

criminal operation, 127. 

crisco, 165. 

crispette, 165. 

Cristsylf, 224. 

critter, 236. 

crook, n., 14, 133, 156. 

crook the elbow, vp., 85. 

crope, 194. 

crossing, n., 98, 110. 

crossing-plate, 27, 82, 98. 

crossing-sweeper, 101, 105. 

cross-purposes, 56. 

cross-roads, 294. 

cross-tie, 98. 

crotchet, 113. 

croud, 251. 

crow, n., 107; v., 194. 

crowd, 250, 251. 

crown, 47. 

Crowninshield, 282. 

cruller, 30, 43. 

crypt, 112. 

euanto, 158. 

Cuba-r, 171. 

cuff, 155. 

curate, 112. 

curb, 243, 246, 258. 

curriculum, 265. 

curse, 130. 

curet, 253. 

curette, 258. 

curvet, 49. 

cuss, n., 129, 160, 238. 

cussedness, 81. 

Custer, 274. 

customable, 60. 

customer, 160. 

cut, v., 194. 

cut a swath, vp., 78. 

cute, 50, 160. 

cut-off, 81. 

cut-up, 164. 

cutting, n., 98, 108. 

Cy, 115. 

cyclone, 109. 

cyclopaedia, 243. 

cyclopedia, 243, 263. 

cyder, 242, 257. 

cypher, 257. 

d.-sound, 98. 

daffy, 230. 

dago, 279. 

damfino, 129. 

damn, 129, 159, 161. 

damnation, 129. 

damphool, 129. 

dance, 59, 95, 173, 174. 

D. & D., 161. 

dander, 43. 

Daniel, 173. 

dare, v., 194. 

dared, 194. 

darken one's doors, vp., 33, 

49. . 
darkey, 60. 
darkle, ., 77n. 
darn, 129. 
daunt, 95. 
Dauphine, 300. 
Davidovitch, 280. 
Davis, 280. 
day-coach, 82. 
day-nursery, 153. 
de, suf., 200. 
deacon, n., 124 ; v., 76. 
dead, adv., 92. 
dead-beat, 14, 14n., 133. 
deader'n, 231. 
dead-head, n., 135; v., 83. 
deaf, 60, 95, 236. 
deal, v., 194. 
dealt, 194. 
dean, 104, 112, 122. 
dear, 116, 122. 
debenture, 97, 106. 
debut, 154, 240, 264. 
debutante, 264. 
decalog, 262. 
deceive, 91. 
decent, 129. 

deck, 80. 

decolletS, 240. 

Decoration day, 114. 

deed, v., 48. 

deef, 95, 236. 

deep, adv., 226. 

Deering, 275. 

defence, 243, 250. 

defense, 243, 246, 252, 260, 


defi, n., 160. 
defiance, 160. 
deft, 57. 

degrees of frost, 109. 
Dejean, 274. 
De la Haye, 274. 
Delhi, 297. 
de 1' Hotel, 274. 
delicate condition, 127. 
delicatessen, 88. 
delicatessen-store, 98. 
dell, 46. 

demagogue, v., 142. 
demean, 51, 134, 136. 
demeanor, 243. 
demeanour, 243. 
Demikof, 272. 
demi-semi-quaver, 113. 
demoralize, 49. 
de Mungumeri, 273. 
Denis, 274. 
Denny, 274. 
dental-surgeon, 124. 
dentist, 124. 
deop-e, 226. 

department-store, 98, 103. 
depot, 82, 133, 153, 265. 
deputize, 49. 
derail, 83. 
derange, 49. 

Derby, 98, 103, 139, 283. 
Dermott, 273. 
dern, 129. 
desave, .91. 
Desbrosses, 291. 
deshabille, 265. 
Deshong, 274. 
Des Moines, 291. 
desperado, 86. 
dessert, 110. 
determine, 250, 251. 
develop, 258. 
De Vere, 273. 
devilled-crab, 109. 
dexter-meadow, 311. 
diamond, 114. 
Diarmuid, 273. 
diarrhea, 243, 253. 
diarrhoea, 243, 24C, 253, 258. 
Dick, 281. 
dicker, v., 49. 
dictagraph, 165. 


die with his boots on, vp., 


did, 194, 204, 205. 
diff, 160. 
difference, 160. 
different from, than, to, 115. 
difrens, 155. 
dig, 194, 198. 
digged, 198. 
diggings, 31, 81. 
dill, 156. 
Dilehay, 274. 
dime, 47. 
dime-novel, 98. 
din, 56. 
diner, 82, 160. 
dining-car, 160. 
dinky, 230. 
dinner, 155, 157. 
diphtheria, 172. 
diphthong, 172. 
directly, 114. 
direct-primary, 107. 
dirt, 115. 
dirty, 228. 
discipine, 251. 
disorderly-house, 127. 
distaff, 254. 
display-ad, 160. 
dissenter, 112, 113. 
district, 107, 109. 
dive, n., 14, 14n, 85, 133; 

v., 194. 
dived, 194. 
divide, n., 46, 294. 
division, 100, 107. 
divorcee, 240, 265. 
Divver, 273. 
divvy, n., Ill ; v., 84. 
Dixie, 33. 
do, 194, 204. 
docket, 81. 
Doctor, 117, 124n. 
dodge the issue, vp., 78. 
do don't, 31. 
doesn't, 210. 
dog, 175. 
doggery, 81, 85. 
dog-gone, 129. 
Dohme, 276. 
dole, v., 194, 199. 
dollar, 47, 139. 
dollars to doughnuts, 142. 
dolled-up, a., 142, 164. 
doll up, vp., 164. 
dom, suf., 154n. 
dominie, 43. 
don, 105. 

donate, 27, 28n, 51, 136. 
donder, 43. 
done, 194, 204. 
don't, 210. 

doodle, suf., 166. 

drummer, 14, 14n, 98. 

Doolittle, 274. 

drunk, 85, 195, 204. 

doop, 94. 

dry-goods, 52, 53. 

door, 156. 

dry-goods store, 98. 

dope, n., 93, 94, 311, 319; 

dryly, 243, 261. 

v., 94, 142. 

dub, n., 14, 311. 

dope out, vp., 94, 142. 

Dubois, 276. 

double-header, 111. 

duck, n., 85. 

double-pica, 114. 

due, 174. 

dough, 133. 

dug, 194. 

dough-boy, 142. 

dug-out, 80. 

do up brown, vp., 79. 

duke, 174. 

dove, v., 194, 199. 

dumb, 88, 90, 90n. 

down-and-out, 24, 81. 

dumb-head, 90n. 

down-East, 109. 

dummkopf, 90n. 

down, 46, 108. 

dump, v., 49. 

down-town, 79. 

Drunkard, 113. 

down-train, 109. 

during, 148. 

downwards, 147. 

During, 275. 

doxologize, 27, 74, 76. 

durn, 129. 

Dr. 108, tee also Doctor. 

dust-bin, 97, 102. 

draft, 95, 243, 246. 

dustman, 102. 

drag, v., 194. 

dutchie, 279. 

dragged, 194. 

dutiable, 40, 50, 51. 

drain, 100, 237. 

duty, 174. 

drama, 173. 

Duval, 271. 

drank, 194, 204, 205. 

dwindle, 310. 

draper, 106. 

draper's-shop, 98. 

e, pro., 216n. 

draught, 243. 

e-sound, 60. 

draughts, 98. 

ea-s-owmi, 91n, 96. 

draw, n., 50, 160; v., 194, 

eagle, 47. 


earlier'n, 281. 

draw a bead, vp., 49. 

earth, 115. 

drawbridge, 50, 160. 

east-bound, 110. 

drawed, 194, 204. 

East end, 139. 

drawers, 110. 

East side, 139. 

drawing-pin, 101. 

easy, aim., 227. 

drawing-room, 99, 103. 

easy-mark, 311. 

dreadful, 31. 

eat, 194, 211. 

dreadnaught, 243. 

eat crow, vp., 84. 

dreadnought, 243. 

eclat, 264. 

dream, v., 194. 

ecology, 243. 

dreampt, 194, 201. 

ficrevisse, 41. 

dreamt, 260. 

ecumenical, 243. 

dreen, 237. 

ede, suf., 200. 

dress, 155. 

Edelstein, 277. 

dresske', 156. 

edema, 243. 

dress'n, 157. 

edged, 85. 

drew, 194, 204. 

editorial, n., 98. 

Drewry, 282. 

e.e-fiound, 96. 

drily, 243, 260. 

eel-grass, 45. 

drink, v., 194, 204. 

ee-ther, 96. 

drive, n., 299; v., 194. 

eetood, 240. 

drove, v., 194. 

egg-plant, 45, 109. 

drown, 194. 

either, 96. 

drown'd, 201n. 

eldorado, 87. 

drownded, 91, 196, 201. 

electrocute, 163, 

drowned, . 91. 

electrolier, 165. 

drug, v., 194, 200. 

elevator, 14, 50, 98, 133. 

druggist, 98. 

elevator, boy, 98. 

drug-store, 18. 

61ite, 264. 



Elk, 288, 294. 

ellum, 239. 

El Paso, 292. 

em, 217. 

embalming-surgeon, 124n. 

emerald, 114. 

emperour, 248n. 

employe, 124, 153, 252, 265. 

employee, 153, 252. 

enceinte, 127. 

enclose, 244, 258. 

encylopaedia, 243. 

encyclopedia, 243. 

endeavor, 243 

endeavour, 243. 

endorse, 244, 258. 

end-seat-hog, 163. 

engage, 106. 

Enghien, 300. 

engine-driver, 99. 

engineer, n., 82; v., 24, 77. 

English, n., 114. 

English education, 279n. 

engulf, 258. 

enquire, 260. 

enquiry, 244, 258. 

Enroughty, 282. 

enter a claim, vp., 78. 

enteric, 101. 

enthuse, 77, 142. 

eon, 243. 

eower, 213. 

eowrum, 213. 

epaulet, 243. 

epaulette, 243, 245. 

Episcopal, 113n. 

Episcopalian, 113n. 

er, auf., 253, 260. 

Erdmann, 276. 

Erin go braugh, 91. 

eruptiveness, 33. 

ese, 158. 

esophagus, 243, 253, 263. 

espera, 158. 

Esq., 121. 

estate-agent, 108. 

et, v., 190, 194, 199. 

eternal, 129. 

etude, 240. 

eychre, v., 134. 

Evelyn, 286. 

eventuate, 49. 

evincive, 50. 

ex, pref., 118. 

exact, 77n. 

exchange, n., 124. 

excursionist, 82, 98. 

excursion-train, 83. 

excurt, v., 77. 

exfluncticate, 82. 

expect, 81. 

expose 1 , 153, 265. 

express, v., 83. 
express-car, 82. 
express-company, 98. 
expressman, 82. 
express-office, 82. 
exterior, 248n. 
extraordinary, 169, 170. 
eye-opener, 86. 
eye, ther, 96. 

face-cloth, 101. 
face the music, vp., 49. 
factor, 98. 
fade away, vp., 319. 
faggot, 243, 245, 260. 
fagot, 243. 
fake, 319. 
faker, 156. 

fall, ., 10, 14, 33, 56, 
133; v., 194, 204. _ 
fall down, vp., 142. 
fallen, 194, 204. 
fallen;woman, 127. 
fall for it, vp., 311. 
fambly, 238. 
fan, 111. 
fan-light, 101. 
fan-tan, 93. 
Farinholt, 282. 
faster'n, 231. 
fast-freight, 82. 
father, 59, 95. 
favor, 243, 251, 253. 
favorite, 243. 
favorite-son, 83, 84. 
favourite, 243, 247. 
Fear, 275. 
feather, 250, 251. 
feature, v., 14, 142. 
feaze, 77. 
fed, 194, 199. 
feed, 194. 
feel, 194, 202. 
feeled, 202. 
feel good, 149. 
Feivel, 284. 
Felicit^, 300. 
fell, n., 46; v., 194, 204. 
feller, 157, 239. 
fellow, 115, 155, 157. 
fellowship, v., 27, 30, 57, 
felt, v., 194, 202. 
female, n., 126, 127. 
femme de chambre, 154. 
fen, 46. 
fence, 254. 
fences, 83. 
fenster, 156. 
fenz, 154. 
ferry, 294. 
f ether, 251. 
fervor, 243. 

fervour, 243. 

fest, uf., 151. 

fetch, 195. 

fetched, 195. 

fete, 153, 264. 

few, 174. 

fiancee, 240. 

fiddled, 85. 

Fiddler, 280. 

Fifth avenue, 139. 

50 40', 285n. 

fight, 195. 

figure, 174. 

filibuster, 83, 84. 

filing-cabinet, 98. 

fill the bill, vp., 78. 

.filthy, 228. . 
fend, v., 195. 
59, fJFindlay, 273. 
<s ~J/fine, a., H6n; adv., 227; v., 
195, 238. 

finger, n., 85. 

finish up, vp., 164. 

Fionnlagh, 273. 

Fion Uisg, 273. 

fire, v., 83. 

fire-brigade, 98, 105. 

fire-bug, 81. 

fire-department, 98, 105. 

fire-eater, 10, 81, 309. 

fire-laddie, 105. 

fire-water, 41. *" i 

first-floor, 103. 
'first-form, 104. 

first-storey, 103. 

first-year-man, 104. 

Fischbach, 275. 

Fishback, 275. 

fish-dealer, 98. 

fish-monger, 98. 

fish-plate, 82. 

fit, v., 195n. 

fitten, 195n. 

five-o'clock-tea, 88n. 

fix, v., 116, 157. 

fix'n, 156. 

fizz, 85. 

fizzle, v., 49. 

fizzle out, vp., 78. 

flag, v., 83. 

flagman, 82. 

flang, 195. 

flap, jack, 56. 

flapper, 308n. 

flare up, vp., 31. 

flat, n., 110. 

flat-boat, 81. 

flat-car, 82. 

flat-footed, 24, 79. 

flat-house, 110. 

flavor, 243. 

flavour, 243. 



fletcherize, 163. 

frat, 105, 160. 

flew, 195. 

fraternal-order, 98. 

flier, 124. 

fraternity, 160. 

fling, v., 195. 

frawst, 175. 

floater, 83. 

frazzle, 134. 

floor, 155, 156, 157. 

frazzled, 85. 

floor-walker, 98, 124. 

Freedman, 275. 

floozy, 166. 

free-lunch, 18. 

flop-flop, v., 98. 

freeze, 195. 

flow, v., 195. 

freeze on to, vp., 78, 311. 

flowed, 195. 

freight, 98. 

Flower Moon, 42n. 

freight, agent, 98. 

flu, 160, 310. 

freight-car, 14, 82, 98. 

flume, 14. 

FrSmont, 276. 

flung, 195. 

French, 279n. 

flunk out, v., 81. 

French letter, 280n. 

flurry, n., 81. 

freshet, 52. 

fly, v., 195. 

freshman, 104. 

fly off the handle, vp., 49. 

Friedmann, 275. 

fonograph, 264. 

friendly-society, 98. 

font, 243, 258. 

frijole, 87. 

Fontaine, 274. 

friz, v., 195, 200. 

footway, 100. 

frog, 27, 82, 98. 

Ford, 275. 

froggy, 278. 

foregather, 243, 260. 

frolick, 250, 254. 

forego, 243, 246. 

frolicksome, 254. 

foreman, 155. 

from here, 229. 

Foreman, 275. 

from there, 229. 

forgather, 243, 260. 

from where, 229. 

forgo, 243, 260. 

frozen, 195. 

forgot, 195, 2.06. 

Fuchs, 272. 

forgotten, 195. 

Fiihr, 275. 

fork, n., 33, 46, 294. 

Fuhrmann, 275. 

for keeps, 111, 319. 

fulfill, 170. 

fork over, vp,, 31. 

full-house, 111. 

form, 104, 243. 

fun, 93. 

forme, 243, 245, 256. 

funds, 106. 

former, pref., 118. 

funeral-director, 124. 

formulae, 265. 

funeralize, 74, 76, 164. 

for rent, 137. 

funny, 231. 

forsake, 195. 

Fiirst, 275. 

forsaken, 195, 199. 

Furth, 275. 

forsook, 195. 

fuse, 243, 246, 257. 

fortnight, 114. 

fuze, 243, 257. 

forty-rod, 85. 

forwards, 147, 229. 

g-sound, 61, 274. 

forward, looker, 302. 

gabfest, 151. 

fosfate, 264. 

gage, 253. 

fotch, 195n. 

gag-rule, 83, 107. 

foto, 264. 

gaiety, 260. 

fotograph, 264. 

galoot, 80. 

Foucher, 300. 

gambler, 155. 

fought, 195. 

gamester, 90n. 

foul, v., 111. 

gangster, 156. 

found, 195, 200. 

ganof, 151, 240. 

fount, 243, 258. 

gantlet, 243. 

Fountain, 274. 

ganze, 113. 

fowl-run, 98. 

ganz gut, 89. 

Fox, 272. 

gaol, 244, 246, 250, 257, 260. 

fox-fire, 56. 

gaoler, 257. 

frame-house, 46. 

gap, 46. 

frankfurter, 88. 

garden, 87, 110. 

garden-party, 153. 

Garnett, 273. 

garter-snake, 45. 

garters, 98. 

gas, 160. 

gasoline, 98, 160, 165. 

gate-money, 111. 

gauge, 253. 

gauntlet, 243. 

gave, 203, 205. 

gawd, 175. 

gawne, 175. 

gay Quaker, 33. 

gazabo, 87. 

G. B., 161. 

g'by, 239. 

gedamatscht, 155. 

gee-whiz, 129. 

gefledelt, 151n. 

General, 118. 

generally, 228. 

gentleman, 121. 

gentleman-author, 121. 

gentleman-clerk, 121. 

gentleman-cow, 126. 

gentleman-rider, 121. 

gent'man, 238. 

gerrymander, 83, 107. 

Gervaise, 274. 

gescheumpt, v., 155. 

gesundheit, 89. 

get, v., 60, 116, 193n, 195. 

get ahead of, vp., 78. 

get a move on, vp., 25. 

get-away, n., 14. 

get away with, vp., 309. 

get by, vp., 311. 

get it in the neck, vp., 819. 

get-out, n., 14 

get solid with, vp., 78, 142. 

get sore, vp., 319. 

get the bulge on, vp., 78. 

get the dead wood on, vp., 


get the drop on, vp., 78. 
get the hang of, vp., 31. 
getting on, vp., 114. 
get wise, vp., 319. 
gift-shop, 137. 
gillotin, 251, 252. 
gin-fix, 85. 
gin-fizz, 84. 
ginger-ale, 85. 
ginger-pop, 85. 
ginseng, 93. 
gipsy, 258, 260. 
girl for general housework, 


girt, 201. 
git, 60. 
giv, 251. 
give, 164, 195, 303, 305, 851. 



give out, vp., 164. 

gotten, 33, 115, 143, 190, 

guardian, 237. 

glad-eye, 133. 

195, 206. 

Guarinot, 273. 

glamor, 243. 

go up Salt river, vp., 84. 

gubernatorial, 28, 28n, 40, 

glamour, 243. 

Government, 107. 

50, 136. 

glass, 95, 173. 

governor, 101. 

Guereant, 274. 

glass-arm, 111. 

govrenment, 239. 

guess, v., 31, 33, 56, 57. 

glebe, 112. 

grab, v., 84. 

guillotin, 251, 252. 

gleich, 155. 

grab-bag, 81. 

guillotine, 252. 

gleiche, 155. 

grade, 98, 104. 

guinea, 279. 

glide, 195. 

gradient, 98. 

Guizot, 274. 

glode, 195, 199. 

gradual, 96. 

gulch, 80. 

gmilath chesed, 157. 

graft, n., 14, 135, 310; v., 

gully, 80. 

go, 195, 317. 


gumbo, 44, 109. 

go-aheadativeness, 27. 

grain, 98, 156. 

gum-shoe, a., 25; n., 80. 

goatee, 81. 

grain-broker, 99. 

gun, 165. 

go back on, vp., 78, 164. 

grain-market, 139. 

gun-man, 165. 

go big, vp., 146. 

gram, 243, 257, 263. 

gun-play, 165. 

god, 266. 

gramme, 243, 257, 261. 

Gutmann, 276, 277. 

god-damned, 129. 

grand, 31. 

guy, n., 129, 156; v., 129. 

go finish, vp., 318. 

grandificent, 166. 

guyascutis, 81. 

Godfrey, 277. 

grant, 95. 

gym, 160. 

go for, vp., 79. 

grape-fruit, 109. 

gymnasium, 160. 

going on, vp., 115. 

grape-juice diplomacy, 163. 

gypsy, 258. 

going some, 26, 149. 

Graves, 281. 

going strong, 819. 

gray, 243, 246, 247, 260. 

h-gound, 61. 

go into service, vp., 78. 

greased-lightning, 309. 

haberdasher, 105. 

go it blind, vp., 78. 

greaser, 33, 80, 279. 

haberdashery-shop, 137. 

go it one better, vp., 111. 

great, 91n. 

habichoo, 240. 

Gold, 280. 

great-coat, 99. 

habitug, 240. 

goldarned, 129. 

great God, 129. 

hablaing, v., 158. 

Goldschmidt, 277, 280. 

great-primer, 114. 

hacienda, 30. 

Goldsmith, 277. 

great shakes, 92. 

hack, n., 109. 

gone-coon, 33. 

great Scot, 129. 

had, 195. 

goner, 48. 

great white father, 86. 

hadden, 195, 205. 

gonorrhea, 128, 253. 

green, 31. 

hadn't ought'a, 210. 

gonorrhoea, 253. 

Green, 275. 

had went, 189. 

Gonzalez, 271. 

greenhorn, 56. 

haemiplegia, 252. 

goober, 44. 

greens, 101. 

haemorrhage, 252. 

good, 148, 149. 

Gregory, 281. 

Haerlem, 274. 

good-afternoon, 115. 

grewsome, 258. 

Haerlen, 274. 

good-by, 243. 

Grgurevich, 281. 

hafta, 239. 

good-bye, 115, 243. 

grip, 99, 106. 

haima, 252. 

good-day, 115. 

grip-sack, 81. " 

hainous, 250, 252. 

good-form, 137. 

gris'-mill, 238. 

haircut, 155. 

Goodman, 277. 

grm-sound, 171. 

halbe, 113. 

good-night, 311. 

groceries, 99, 102. 

half-breed, 46. 

goods, 98, 133. 

grocery, 155, 157. 

hall, 155. 

goods-manager, 98. 

grog, 88n. 

halloo, v., 77n. 

goods-waggon, 83, 98. 

groop, 251. 

halt an, 89. 

good ways, 147. 

grotesk, 252. 

hamburger, 88. 

go on the warpath, vp., 49. 

grotesque, 252. 

hand-car, 82. 

goose, 279. 

ground-floor, 103. 

hand him a lemon, vp., 309, 

G. O. P., 161. 

ground-hog, 33, 45. 


gopher, 43. 

group, 250, 251. 

hand it to him, vp., 309. 

Gossett, 274. 

grove, 294. 

handle without gloves, vp., 

got, 115, 143, 195, 206. 

grow, 195. 


Gotham, 33. 

growed, 195, 198, 199. 

handsome, 173. 

gother, 198. 

growler, 105. 

handy, 50. 

go the whole hog, vp., 79. 

grub-stake, 81. 

hang, 195. 

go through, vp., 79. 

Griin, 275. 

hang-bird, 33. 

go to hell, vp., 161. 

guard, n., 83, 98, 137. 

hanged, 195n, 200. , 

go-to-meeting, a., 79. 

guardeen, 237. 

hang-out, 164. 



han'kerchief, 238. 

Hansen, 271. 

happy, adv., 227. 

happify, 27, 49. 

happy hunting grounds, 86. 

harbor, 171, 243, 259. 

harbour, 243, 259. 

hard, a., 228, 231; adv., 226. 

hard-cider, 85. 

hardly, 228. 

hard-shell, a., 79. 

hardware-dealer, 99. 

hare, 54, 109. 

hari-kari, 85. 

harkee, 219. 

Harlan, 274. 

harp, 279. 

Harper, 280. 

has-been, 23, 163. 

hash-foundry, 163. 

Hassan, 41. 

hat, 155. 

hath, 59. 

hatkS, 156. 

haul, v., 52, 54. 

hausfrau, 88. 

have, auxiliary, 192, 195, 

206, 238. 

have an ax to grind, vp., 79. 
have the brokers in the 

house, vp., 107. 
have the goods, vp., 311. 
Havre de Grace, 291. 
Hawthorne, 282. 
hay-cock, 47, 99. 
hay-barrack, 43. 
hay-stack, 47, 99. 
haze, v. 142. 
he, 212, 220. 
head, 105, 251. 
head-clerk, 98. 
headliner, 99, 106. 
head-master, 104, 105. 
head-mistress, 104. 
healthful, 146. 
healthy, 146. 
hear, 195, 204. 
hear, hear, 115. 
heard, 60, 195. 
hearth, 174. 
heat, v, 195. 
heath, 46. 
heave, v., 195. 
heavenwards, 147. 
Hebrew, 113. 
hed, 251. 
heeler, 83. 
heerd, 195, 199, 20<" 
heern, 195, 204. 
heft, v., 52, 54. 
hefty, 54. 
Heid, 275. 

height, 91. 

heighth, 91, 238. 

heimer, suf., 151. 

heinous, 250, 252. 

Heintz, 275. 

held, 195, 206. 

hell, 128n. 

hell-box, 80. 

hell-fired, 129. 

Hell-Gate, 290. 

hellion, 76. 

hello, 77n. 

hell-roaring, 76. 

help, n., 30, 33, 102, 135. 

belt, 195, 201. 

hem, 216, 252. 

hemi-demi, semi-quaver, 113. 

hemorrhage, 260. 

hence, 228. 

heo, 213n. 

heom, 213n. 

heora, 213. 

her, pro., 212, 214, 219, 220. 

heraus mit ihm, 89. 

herb, 61. 

here, 145, 213, 214, 228. 

heren, pro., 213. 

hern, pro., 212, 213, 214. 

hers, 213, 214. 

herun, 213. 

het, v., 195, 199. 

het up, vp., 85, 195n. 

Heyward, 282. 

hickory, 40. 

hidden, 195. 

hide, 195. 

hie, 213. 

high, 116. 

high-ball, 85. 

high-brow, 163. 

highfalutin, 79. 

High street, 300. 

hike, v., 142. 

hill-side, 31. 

him, 212, 219, 220, 224. 

himself, 224, 225. 

Hines, 275. 

hired-girl, 47, 103. 

hired-man, 47. 

hire-purchase plan, 99, 103. 

his, 212, 214, 225. 

His Excellency, 119, 120. 

His Highness, 119. 

His Honor, 120. 

hisn, 190, 212, 214. 

his-or-her, 225. 

hisself, 190, 224, 225. 

hist, v., 91, 195, 236. 

histed, 195. 

historical, 62. 

hist'ry, 238. 

hit, v., 195. 

hitched, 319. 

Hite, 275. 

hither, 145, 228. 

hoarding, n., 27, 97, 102. 

hobo, 14, 14n, 133, 11. 

Hobson-Jobson, 41. 

hoch, 89. 

Hoch, 276. 

Hock, 100, 104. 

hod-carrier, 99. 

Hodge, 116. 

hoe-cake, 45, 46. 

hofbrau, 240, 265. 

Hoffman, 271. 

hog, v., 24, 26. 

hoggish, adv., 227. 

hog-pen, 99. 

hog-wallow, 45. 

hoist, v., 91. 

Hoke, 275. 

hokum, 165. 

hola, 158. 

hols, v., 195, 206. 

hold-all, 99. 

holden, 206. 

hold on, vp., 81, 80. 

hold out, vp., 111. 

hold up, vp., 306. 

hold-up, n., 14, 14n. 

holler, v., 77, 77n, 195, 239. 

hollered, 195. 

hollo, v., 77n. 

holloa, v., 77n. 

hollow, v., 77n. 

holsum, 264. 

holt, 238. 

holy-orders, 112. 

holy-roller, 113. 

homely, 57, 110. 

homespun, 66. 

hominy, 33, 40, 41. 

homologize, 49. 

hon. agent, 121. 

honor, 243, 248, 250, 251, 
253, 263, 318. 

honorable, 118-21. 

honorable and learned gentle- 
man, 107. 

honorable friend, 107. 

honorable gentleman, 107, 

honorarium, 247. 

honorary, 247, 257. 

honorific, 247. 

honour, 243, 250, 259. 

honourable, 247, 257. ' 

hoodlum, 14, 14n, 133. 

hoodoo, 44, 105. 

hooiberg, 43. 

hook, n., 43, 45, 290. 

hooligan, 183. 

Hoosier, 33. 



Hoover, 275. 
hooverize, 142, 163. 
hop, n., 93, 94. 
horrour, 248n. 
hornswoggle, v., 78. 
horse of another color, 33. 
horse-sense, 80. 
horse-shoer, 203. 
horse's-neck, 85. 
Hosein, 41. 
hospital, 61, 99. 
hospital-nurse, 101, 104. 
hostile, 174, 176. 
hostler, 244, 246, 
hot-box, 82. 
hotel, 61, 124. 
Hot Moon, 42n. 
hotter'n, 231. 

house of ill (or question- 
able) repute, 127. 
hove, 195, 199. 
Howells, 283. 
Hrubka, 281. 
hub, 31. 

hubbub, 307, 310. 
Huber, 275. 
huckleberry, 45. 
huckster, 99. 
huddle, 307. 
humbug, 31. 
humor, 244. 
humorist, 247. 
humour, 244. 
hunderd, 238. 
hung, 195, 200. 
hunker, 31. 
hunkie, 279. 
hunkydory, a., 81. 
hunting, n., 99, 115. 
Hunting Moon, 42n. 
hunyadi, 278. 
hurrah, 173. 
hurray, 173. 
hurricane, 109. 
hurry up, vp., 164. 
hurt, v., 195. 
hurtleberry, 45. 
hustle, v., 57. 
hyperfirmatious, 82n. 
Hyde, 275. 
hydroplan, 263n. 
hypo, 160. 
hyposulphite of soda, 160. 

I, pro., 212, 219, 220. 
i, pro., 216n. 
i-sound, 60, 96. 
iad, pro., 216n. 
I bet you, 157. 
ice-box 156. 
ice-cream, 56. 
icei, 110. 

iced-water, 109. 

ice-water, 109. 

ich, pro., 179. 

ich bin es, 145n. 

Icsylf, 224. 

idealer, 230. 

ify, suf., 77. 

ige, suf., 156. 

iland, 251. 

ile, 236. 

ill, 10, 56, 100. 

Illinois, 291. 

illy, 228. 

imagine, 173, 251. 

immigrate, 49. 

Inc., 106. 

incidence, 229. 

incident, 229. 

inclose, 244, 246, 258. 

incohonee, 42n. 

Indian, 99. 

Indian-corn, 52, 98. 

Indian-file, 47. 

Indian-summer, 46, 99. 

indifferent, adv., 226. 

indorse, 244, 246, 258. 

induced, 174. 

inflection, 244, 246. 

inflexion, 244, 258, 260. 

influent, a., 50. 

influential, 50, 51, 133. 

influenza, 160. 

in foal, 125. 

infract, 49. 

ingel, 156. 

ingfinue, 308n. 

initial-sack, 311. 

initiative and referendum, 

inn, 53. 
ino, suf., 166. 
inquiry, 170, 244, 258. 
insect, 125. 
inski,' -/., 151. 
instal, 260. 

instalment-business, 99. 
instalment-plan, 99. 
instead, 251. 
insted, 251. 
instruct, 108. 

insurge, v., 142, 164, 202. 
interduce, 239. 
interesting condition, 127. 
interiour, 248n. 
intern, 243. 
interne, 253. 
interval-land, 31. 
interview, ., 57. 
in the course of, 148. 
invalided, 125. 
inverted-commas, 100. 
in writing, 115. 

Iowa, 298. 

Irene, 286. 

iron-horse, 82. 

iron-monger, 19, 99. 

Ironmonger, 282. 

Iroquois, 291n. 

Irving, 283. 

is, 209. 

I say, 115. 

ish ka bibble, 151n. 

I should worry, 151. 

island, 250, 251. 

is not, 210. 

isn't, 146, 210. 

isquonkersquash, 41. 

isquontersquash, 41. 

Italian warehouse, 98. 

itemize, 24, 77. 

i-ther, 96. 

it, 213. 

itis, suf., 154. 

it is me, 145. 

its, 212. 

Itzik, 284. 

Ivanof, 272. 

ize, tuf., 77, 164. 

j-sound, 96. 

ja, 152. 

Jack, 281. 

jackass, 129. 

Jackson, 278, 280, 281. 

jack up, vp., 142. , 

Jacob, 281. 

Jacobovitch, 280. 

Jacobovsky, 280. 

Jacobson, 280. 

jag, 85. 

jagged, 85. 

jail, 244, 246, 250, 252, 256, 

257, 261. 
jailer, 256. 
Jake, 281. 

Jamestown-weed, 45. 
janders, 239. 
janitor, 99, 110. 
Jannszewski, 272. 
jap-a-lac, 165. 
Japanee, 229. 
Jarvis, 274. 
jeans, 56. 
jemmy, 244. 
jeopardize, 51. 
jerked-beef, 43. 
jerk-water, 82. 
Jerome, 286. 
jersey, 101. 
Jesu*, 129. 
jew, v., 52, 54, 113n. 
Jew, 113. 
jew down, vp., 54. 
jeweller, 245, 250. 



jewellery, 244, 259, 280. 
jewelry, 244, 259. 

ke, /., 156. 
Keeley, 275. 

knock-out drops, 319. 
know, 195. 

Jewry, 113. 

keep, 195. 

knowed, 191, 195, 199. 

jiggered, 85. 

keep a stiff upper lip, vp., 

know him like ft book, vp.. 

jig's up, 33. 



jimmy, 244, 246. 
Jimson-weed, 45. 

keep company, vp., 115. 
keep tab, vp., 78. 

know-nothing, 134. 
know the ropes, vp., 78. 

jine, 91, 236. 

keer, 237. 

Knox, 278. 

jitney, a., 24, 142, 164. 

keg, 250, 252. 

Koch, 277. 

jockey, 88n. 

Kelly, 271, 281. 

Koester, 275. 

Johanssen, 275. 

Kemp, 275. 

kodak, n., 165, 166; v., 166n. 

John Collins, 85. 

Kempf, 275. 

kodaker, 166n. 

John J. O'Brien, 272n. 

Kenesaw, 285. 

Kolinsky, 280. 

Johnny-cake, 46. 

Kennebec, 30. 

komusta, 158. 

Johnny-jump-up, 45. 

kep, 195, 238. 

Konig, 276, 277. 

Johnson, 272, 275. 

ker, pref., 82. 

kosher, 151, 240. 

join, 91. 

kerb, 243, 246, 258, 260. 

Kovar, 277. 

joiner, 19n. 

ker-bang, -flop, -flummox, 

kow-tow, 93. 

joint, 100, 163. 

-plunk, -slam, -splash, 

Krantz, 276. 

joke-smith, 308, 310. 

-thump, 82. 

Krause, 271. 

jolly, 116. 

kerbstone, 246. 

Krisking'l, 89. 

Jonas, 275, 278. 

Kester, 275. 

Kriss Kringle, 89. 

Jones, 271, 275, 278. 

ketch, 91, 237. 

kruller, gee cruller. 

joss, a,., 93. 

key, 43, 46, 155. 

Kuehle, 275. 

journal, 158. 

keylesswatch, 27, 100. 

Kuhne, 276. 

journalist, 99, 108. 

kick, n., 77; v., 77. 

Kuhns, 275. 

joy-ride, n., 10, 110, 163, 165, 

kicker, 77. 

kumfort, 264. 

310; v., 202. 

kick-in, 164. 

kiimmel, 89. 

joy-ridden, 202. 

kick the bucket, vp., 78. 

Kuntz, 275. 

joy-rided, 202. 

kid, v., 14. 

Kurtz, 276. 

joy-rode, 202. 

kiddo, 92. 

Kiister, 274. 

juba, 44. 

kike, 115, 156. 

KuznetzoT, 277. 

judgement, 256, 260. 

kill, n., 290. 

Kyle, 274. 

judgmatical, 50. 

kilogram, 257. 

judgment, 256, 257. 

kimono, 152n. 

l-gound, 60. 

jug, 100. 

kind' a, 234. 

labor, 244, 318. 

jugged, 85. 

kindergarden, 238. 

Labor Day, 114. 

juice, 162. 

kindergarten, 88, 153. 

laborer, 244. 

julep, 56. 

kindness, 170. 

laborious, 247. 

jump a claim, tip., 78. 

King, 277, 280. 

labour, 244. 

jumper, 81, 156. 

King's counsel, 108. 

labourer, 244, 247. 

jumping-off place, 81. 

kinky, 50. 

lachrymal, 253. 

jump-off, 164. 

kitchen, 155. 

lacquey, 260. 

jump on with both feet, vp., 

kitchenette, 165. 

lacrimal, 253. 


kitchen-fender, 139. 

Lacy, 281. 

jump the rails, vp., 83n. 

kittle, 237. 

ladies' -singles, -wear, 121. 

June-bug, 45. 

kitty, 111. 

lady, 121, 126. 

Jung, 275. 

kiwer, 237. 

lady-clerk, -doctor, -golfer, 

junior, 104. 

klark, 19n. 

-inspector, -secretary, -ty- 

junk, 133. 

klaxon, 165. 

pist, 121. 

junket, 107. 

Klein, 271. 

Lady Day, 114. 

just, 117. 

klork, 19n. 

Lafayette, 95, 95n, 291. 

Knapp, 276. 

lager-beer, 88. 

Kahler, 276. 

kneel, 195, 202. 

lagniappe, 86. 

Kahn, 280. 

kneeled, 195, 202. 

Laib, 276. 

kaif, 240. 

knel, 202. 

laid, 195, 196. 

kandy, 264. 

knelt, 202. 

lain, 195, 196. 

Kann, 280. 

knife, v., 84. 

lallapalooza, 90. 

Karzeniowski, 278. 

knob, 46. 

lame-duck, 23, 83, 107. 

katzen jammer, 88. 

Knoche, 278. 

landlord, 155, 156. 

kayo, 158. 

knock into a cocked hat, vp., 

land-office, 47. 

K. 0., 108. 


land-slide, 46, 88. 



iane, 300. 

Lane, 273. 

Lang, 275, 276. 

Lantz, 276. 

lariat, 86. 

Larsen, 271. 

lasso, n., 86; v., 87. 

last, a., 58, 94, 173, 174. 

late, 226, 228. 

lately, 228. 

lands, 112. 

laufen, r., 88. 

laugh, 95, 174. 

laugh in your sleeve, 


laundry, 95, 165. 
Lauten, 281. 
Lautenberger, 281. 
lavandera, 158. 
law-abiding, 50. 
lawft, 175. 
lawn-fete, 153. 
lawst, 175. 
Lawton, 281. 
lay, t>., 195, 202. 
lay on the table, vp., 48. 
lay-reader, 112. 
Id, suf., 201. 
lead, v., 195. 
leader, 98, 108. 
leaderette, 108. 
leading-article, 98, 108. 
leads, 101, 103. 
lean, 195. 
leaned, 202. 
leap, v., 91, 195. 
leapt, 260. 
learn, 196, 203. 
learnt, 196. 
leave, v., 203. 
leberwurst, 88. 
led, 195, 199. 
leery, 230. 
left, v., 203. 
left at the post, vp., 78. 
legal-holiday, 99, 114. 
legislate, 49, 50, 51. 
Lehn, 273. 
Lehnert, 273. 
Leighton Buzzard, 297n. 
Le Maine, 273. 
lend, 196, 202. 
lendler, 156. 

lengthy, 33, 50, 51, 133. 
leniency, 51. 
lent, 195, 201, 202. 
Leonard, 273. 
Leonhard, 273. 
Leonhardt, 273. 
leopard, 250, 251. 
lep, 91, 195, 200. 
leperd, 251. 

les, 238. 

liturgy, 112. 

Leser, 276. 

live-oak, 33, 45. 

let, 203. 

live out, vp., 115. 

let it slide, vp., 79. 

liver, a., 230. 

let on, vp., 31. 

livery-stable, 99. 

letter-box, 99. 

livest, 165. 

letter-carrier, 19n, 99. 

live- wire, 14. 

levee, 30, 86, 264. 

living, n., 112. 

Lever, 280. 

living-room, 103. 

Levering, 275. 

Lizzie, 104. 

Levey, 280. 

loaded, 85. 

Levin, 280. 

loaf, v., 88, 136. 

Levie, 280. 
'., Levine, 280. 
Levitt, 280. 
Levy, 271, 280, 282. 
Lewis, 280n. 
Lewy, 280. 
Lewyt, 280. 

loafer, 31, 88, 89, 156. 
Loaferies, 136. 
loan, r., 57, 202. 
loaned, 190, 196. 
loan-office, 124. 
lobby, v., 84. 
lobby-agent, 84. 


li, /., 226. 

lobbyist, 84. 

liberty-cabbage, 152. 

Lobe, 276. 

libretti, 265. 

lobster, 133. 

lib'ry, 238. 

locate, 49, 50, 61. 

Liechtenstein, 280. 

loch, 298. 

Lichtman, 280. 

loco, n., 86. 

lickety-split, 45. 

locoed, 79. 

lie, v., 196, 202. 

loco foco, 81. 

Liebel, 284. 

locomotive, 85. 

Liebering, 275. 

locomotive-engineer, 99. 

lied, 196. 

locum tenens, 112. 

lieutenant, 174, 176. 

locust, 33, 45, 394. 

lift, n., 98, 137. 

Loeb, 276. 

lift-man, 98. 

Loeser, 276. 

lift up, vp., 164, 196. 

log, 175. 

lighted, 200. 

log-cabin, 46n. 

lighter, 100. 

log-house, 4<J. 

lightning-bug, 45. 

log-roll, v., 44. 

lightning-rod, 33. 

London corporation, 106. 

light out, vp., 78, 164. 

lonesome, 164. 

like, 190, 191, 224. 

Long, 275. 

likely, 31, 33, 57. 

longa, 113. 

limb, 126, 127. 

long-primer, 114. 

limehouse, v., 162. 

long-sauce, 33. 


lime-tree, 45. 

long-vacation, 114. 

limited, n., 82, 124. 

looking-glass, 116. 


look out, vp., 114. 


look up, vp., 114. 

linch, v., 77n. 

look ye, 219. 

Lincoln, 274. 

loophole, 56. 

linden, 45. 

loop-the-loop, v., 202. 

line, 83, 100, 101, 106. 

L6pez, 271. 

lineage-rates, 108. 

lord, 171. 

linen-draper, 19n. 

lorry, 101. 

Linkhorn, 274. 

Los Angeles, 292. 

lit, 196, 200. 

lose, 106, 196. 

liter, 244. 

lost, 196. 

literary, 170. 

lot, 31, 51, 52, 5wn. 

litre, 244. 

loud, adv., 226. 

Little Giant, 33. 

Louis, 291. 

Little Mary, 125. 

Louisville, 291. 

littler, 230. 

lounge, n., 105, 155, 156 

littlest, 230. 

lounge-lizard, 163. 




at. i*t^ si, 77. 

, 153, 154, 240. 

male cow. 126. 
ana, 170. 
Mamie Taylor. 85. 
managing-director, 106. 

r. 244, 252. 260. 
wvnei. 100, 109. 

P, 107. 

*?- met. 196. 

[anney. 273. metak, 83, 97. 

lanoenTre, 244, 252, 258. meter. 244. 257. 

Methodiat, 99, 113. 
"0. methrmted-apirim. 101. 

155. metre, 244. 257. 

, *0. Metre, 110. 

. 125, 116. mewa, 47. 99. 

Marjoribenka, 283. Meyer. 271, 272. 


22*. 22;. 
i-law, 30. 

machine. 83, 84, 100. 106, 

110, 132, 251. 
machine-shop, 53. 

thiain, 273. 
MeLane, 273. 


MaeSweener, 273. 
Macy, 280. 

79, 99. 

mad mm a hornet, 80. 
mad mm a March hare. 89. 


mad-honse, 80. 
maennerchor, 89. 
maffick, ., 162. 
mafia, 151. 
Magdalen. 283. 
Maggie, 102. 104. 
103. 139. 



martin, 294. 
Martin, 281. 


Maaon. 280. 
man, OB. 
maawre, 96. 
man-meeting, 30. 
master, 95, 173. 
Maater(s), 277. 
mastiff, 254. 
match, 155. 

matinee, 153, 154, 265. 
matins, 112. 
matter, 173. 
matzoh, 151, 240. 
Maueh Chunk, 290. 
Maurice, 284. 

Mirhaeh. 275. 
Hmm* mm. 
Michigan. 296. 
mick. 279. 
mighfa, 196. 
-ighty, 31. 228. 

mileage, 50. 83. 

52, 251. 

18, 42. 52, 98, 251. 

a kick. *.. 79. 


good, Vf., 133. 
the far fly. ?-, "?8. 
traekt, n?., 78. 

Mar, MO- 
mayonnaise, 240. 

me, 212, 219. 220. 

mean, mdv., 227; *., 196, 251. 

meant, 196. 

mebby, 239. 

mediaeval, 244, 246, 257. 260. 

meiiriM man. 41. 

median!. 244. 

meen, 251. 

meet. 196. 

meidel, 156. 

. 264. 
melt. 198. 
melted, 198. 
member, 104. 
memo, 160. 
memorandum-book, 110. 

military, 1TO, 176, 

mffl, 47. 

Mffler, 271. 272. 

mflUgram. 257. 

MOtna. 283. 

min. m, 213. 214. 

mine, pro., 212. 213, 214. 

minerals, 85. 100. 


wgiona, 109. 

minion-nonpareil, 114. 
minister, 112. 
minmtrr, 107. 112. 
minor-leaguer. 111. 
minster, 112. 
minuet, 240. 
minam, 213. 

Mm*. 54. 

nuschierioua, 239. 



Mlinar, 272. 
mob. n., 160. 
mobile, n., 160. 
mobile vulgus, 160. 
moccasin, 41. 
moccasin-snake, 45. 
modren, 239. 
Moise, 284. 
Moiseyev, 280. 
molasses, 10, 56, 99. 
mold, 244, 252. 
Holier, 272. 
mollusc, 244, 258, 260. 
mollusk, 244, 246, 247. 
molt, 198, 244. 
money-bund, 152. 
money in the stocks, 106. 
money-order, 103. 
monkey-nut, 99, 109. 
monkey-wrench, 99. 
monoplan, 263n. 
Monroe, 283. 
Montagu-Stuart- Wortley- 

Mackenzie, 282n. 
Montgomery, 273. 
Monumental City, 33. 
moon-shine, a., 85. 
moor, 45, 105, 106, 108. 
moose, 40, 109, 294. 
Mor6as, 277. 
more better, 230. 
more queerer, 230. 
more than, 143, 148. 
more ultra, 230. 
more uniquer, 230. 
more worse, 230. 
Morris, 284. 
mortgage-shark, 80. 
mortician, 124. 
Moses, 280n. 
Moss, 280n. 
moss-back, 47. 
Most Hon., 120. 
most principal, 230. 
Motel, 284. 
motive, 60. 
motor, 110. 
motor-car, 110. 
mould, 245, 246, 254, 260. 
moult, 245. 
moustache, 244, 260. 
movie, 27, 142, 160. 
moving-picture, 160. 
moving-picture-theatre, 99. 
mow, v., 196. 
mowed, 196. 
mown, 196. 

Mr., 108, 117, 121, 266. 
Mrs., 54. 
muck-raker, 306. 
mud-hen, 45. 
mud-scow, 47. 

Mueller, 272. 

mufti, 105-6. 

mugwump, 83, 84. 

Muller, 271. 

Miiller, 272. 

municipal, 239. 

Murphy, 271. 

musa, 40. 

mush, 47. 

music-hall, 101, 106, 153. 

musk-rat, 134. 

muskwessu, 134. 

musquash, 134. 

muss, n., 31, 56; v., 78. 

must, 207. 

mustache, 155, 244, 260. 

mustang, 86. 

my, 212, 214, 317. 

my dear, 122. 

Myers, 271, 272. 

na, 232. 

naefre, 232. 

naefth, 232. 

naht, 232. 

naif, 265. 

naivete 1 , 265. 

nameable, 33. 

naphtha, 172. 

napkin, 18, 99. 

nasty, 137, 228, 231. 

nat, 232. 

natur, 96. 

nature, 60, 96, 174, 266. 

nature-faker, 163, 306. 

naught, 246. 

naughty, 228. 

navvy, 81. 

ne, pref., 232. 

ne-aefre, 232. 

ne-haefth, 232. 

near, a., 24; adv., 227. 

near-accident, 34. 

near-silk, 23, 159, 227. 

neat, adv., 227. 

neck, 46. 

necktie, 99, 104. 

nd, suf., 201. 

nee, 240. 

needle, 155. 

nee-ther, 96. 

negative, v., 49. 

neger, 252. 

negro, 252. 

neighbor, 244. 

neighborhood, 244. 

neighbour, 244. 

neighbourhood, 244. 

neither, 96. 

nekk-toi, 155. 

nephew, 172, 176. 

ne-singan, 282. 

nest-of-drawers, 98. 

net, 244, 257. 

nett, 244, 245, 257. 

Neumann, 277. 

Nevada, 95, 298. 

never mind, 157. 

new, pref., 289. 

ne-wiste, 232. 

Newman, 277. 

ne-wolde, 232. 

New Orleans, 291. 

news-agent, 99. 

newsdealer, 99. 

newspaper-business, 108n. 

newspaper-man, 99, 108n. 

next-doorige, 156. 

N. G., 23, 161. 

nice, 116n, 230, 306. 

nicht, gefiedelt, 151n. 

nichts, 152. 

nichts kommt heraus, 89. 

nick, suf., 156. 

nickel-in-the-slot, 138. 

nigger-in-the-woodpile, 107. 

nine-pins, 101, 111. 

ni-ther, 96. 

nix, 152. 

nix come erous, 89. 

nixy, 152. 

no, 152, 214. 

no-account, a., 27, 44, 48. 

Noblestone, 277. 

no-how, adv., 44, 48. 

no kerry, 158. 

non-committal, 79. 

non-conformist, 112. 

non-conformist conscience, 


none, 214, 216. 
nonpareil, 114. 
noodle, 44, 88. 
no quiero, 158. 
Nora, 102. 

Norfolk-Howard, 125n. 
Norsworthy, 282. 
Norwich, 297. 
no sir, 157. 
no-siree, 92. 
not, 232. 
notch, 46. 
notify, 52, 115. 
not on your life, 92. 
nouche, 89. 
nought, 246, 260. 
noways, 229. 
nowheres else, 147. 
Nurse, 104. 
nurse the constituency, vp., 


nursing-home, 99, 104. 
nursing-sister, 104. 
nut, 306. 



nutty, 230. 
nyste, 232. 

o-sound, 246. 
Oakes, 275. 
oatmeal, 99. 
obleege, 60. 
obligate, 31, 49, 77. 
obligation, 31. 
oblige, 31, 60. 
O'Brien, 271, 281. 
ocelot, 42. 
Ochs, 274. 
octoroon, 43. 
ode, suf., 200. 
odor, 244, 251. 
odoriferous, 247. 
odour, 244. 
oe-sound, 276. 
oecology, 243. 
oecumenical, 243. 
oedema, 243. 
Oehler, 276. 
Oehm, 275. 

oesophagus, 243, 246, 257. 
of, auxiliary, 207. 
offal, 56. 
offence, 244. 
offense, 244, 254. 
office, 108. 

office-holder, 27, 99, 105. 
office-seeker, 83. 
off'n, 234, 238. 
off of, 234. 
offset, 31. 
often, 171. 
Ohio, 30. 
Ohler, 276. 
oh, oh, 115. 

oi-sound, 158, 175, 235, 276. 
oi-yoi, 151. 
/).K., 23, 161. 
okeh, 161. 
Old Bullion, 33. 
Old Hickory, 33. 
Old Stick-in-the-Mud, 86. 
oleo, 160. 

oleomargarine, 160, 165. 
Olson, 271. 
omelet, 257. 

omnibus-bill, 33, 83, 107, 310. 
once, 91. 
once't, 91, 238. 
one, 216, 231. 
one best bet, 142. 

one he, 147. 

one-horse, a., 48. 

onery, 26, 91, 238. 

one his legs, 107. 

only, 232. 

onry, 238. 

on the bench, 111. 

on the fence, 83. 

on the hoof, 81. 

on the job, 142. 

on the Q. T., 161. 

on the rates, 106. 

on time, 115. 

on to his curves, 111. 

ontologist, 124. 

opasum, 40. 

op donderen, 43. 

open up, vp., 164. 

opossum, 22, 40, 160. 

oppose, 48, 51. 

optician, 124. 

optometrist, 124. 

or, /., 247, 252, 318. 

orangeade, 165. 

oratory, 112. 

oratour, 248n. 

orchestra, 99, 106. 

ordained, 112. 

order, n., 108. 

ordinary, 91, 238. 

ordinary income-tax, 109. 

organization, 132. 

ornate, 67. 

oslerize, 163. 

ossified, 85. 

ostler, 61, 244, 246, 258, 260. 

O Suilleabhain, 273. 

O' Sullivan, 273. 

otchock, 41. 

otter, 294. 

ouch, 89. 

ought'a, 210. 

oughter, 210. 

ought to, 210. 

our, 212, 214. 

our, *uf., 245, 247, 250, 252, 

253, 256, 257, 261, 318. 
ourn, 191, 212, 214. 
ours, 214. 
ous, uf., 77. 
out, 134. 
out-house, 10. 
over, 143, 148. 
overcoat, 99. 
over his signature, 115. 
ow, suf., 199. 
own, 225. 
oyster-stew, 109. 
oyster-supper, 80, 109. 

Paca, 274. 

package, 99. 

Padraic, 273. 

padrone, 151, 152. 

paid, 196. 

pail, 97. 

paint, 155. 

paint the town red, vp., 78. 

pajamas, 244, 246, 252, 259. 

Paka, 274. 

pale, n., 81. 

pale-face, 41. 

palmetto, 43. 

pan-fish, 46. 

pan out, vp., 78, 135. 

pants, 27, 110, 156. 

papa, 170. 

Papadiamantopoulos, 277. 

paper, 155. 

papoose, 41, 42. 

paprika, 152. 

paraffin, 98. 

parcel, 51, 52, 99. 

pard, 160. 

pardner, 238. 

paresis, 169. 

parlor, 99, 103, 105, 244. 

parson, 43, 112. 

partner, 160. 

parlor-car, 99. 

parlour, 244. 

parson, 43, 112. 

partner, 160. 

partridge, 155, 165. 

paseo, 158. 

pass, n., 95, 174. 

passage, 300. 

pass-degree, 105. 

passenger-coach, 82. 

past, 173. 

pastor, 95, 112, 173. 

pat, a., 307. 

patent, 173, 176. 

path, 58, 59, 95, 174. 

Patrick, 273. 

pa'tridge, 238. 

pavement, 100. 110. 

pawn-shop, 12* 

paw-paw, 40, 294. 

pay, 196. 

pay back, vp., 114. 

pay-day, 99. 

pay, dirt, 33, 81. 

paying-guest, 97, 102, 124. 

pay up, vp., 114. 

P. 0., 105. 

P. D. Q., 23, 161. 

pea, 77n. 

Peabody, 274. 

peach, 133, 310. 

peacharino, 166. 

peach-pit, 43. 

peanut, 45, 99, 109. 

peanut-politics, 109. 

pearl, 114. 

Pearse, 273. 

peart, 79. 

peas, 77n, 244. 

pease, 244, 245. 

Pebaudiere, 274. 

ped, 198. 



pedagog, 262. 
peep, v., 202. 
peeve, 142. 
peewee, 43. 
pemmican, 40. 
pen, n., 160. 
pence, 139. 
Pence, 275. 
penitentiary, 160. 
pennant-winner, 111. 
penny, 33, 138. 
penny-ante, 138. 
penny-arcade, 138. 
penny-bill, 47. 
penny-in-the-slot, 138. 
pennyr'yal. 109. 
penny-whistle, 138. 
Pentz, 275. 
peon, 87. 
peonage, 87. 
pep, 160. 
peptomint, 165. 
per, 154. 

perambulator, 139. 
per day, diem, dozen, 

dred, mile, your letter 
Perdix perdix, 63. 
permanent-way, 83, 100, 
persimmon, 33, 40, 109. 
pesky, 79. 
peter out, vp., 78. 
Petit, 274. 
petrol, 98. 
Petrssylf, 224. 
Pfau, 273. 
Pfund, 277. 
phantom, 250. 
phial, 245. 
phlegm-cutter, 85. 
Phoenix park, 273. 
phone, n., 142, 160; v., 

142, 202. 
phoney, 142. 
phonograph, 165. 
physick, 250, 254. 
P. I., 127. 
pianist, 170. 
piano, 173. 
pianola, 165. 
Piarais, 273. 
pica, 114. 

picayune, 79, 86, 105. 
pickaninny, 43, 318. 
picket, 244. 
picture, 155. 
picturize, 164. 
pie, 52, 53, 100. 
pie-counter, 83. 
piffled, 85. 
pifflicated, 85. 
pigeon, 41. 
Pigeon English, 41. 

piggery, 99. 
pigmy, 244, 260. 
pike, 160. 
piker, 156. 
Pikler, 280. 
pillar-box, 99, 103. 
pimp, 127. 
pine-knot, 46. 
pin-head, 129, 142. 
pinocle, 88. 
pint, n., 105. 
pipe-of -peace, 41. 
piquet, 244. 
pisen, 236. 
pismire, 126. 
pissoir, 127n. 
pit, 43. 

pitcher, 100, 238. 
pitch-pine, 46. 
placate, 49, 136. 
place, 300. 
placer, 87. 
plaguy, 31. 
plain, n., 29, 41. 
plaintiff, 254. 
. l6 * plank, 83. 

plank down, vp., 78. 
10<J - plant, 59. 

planted to corn, 115. 
Plant Moon, 42n. 
plate, 100. 
platform, 83, 84. 
play ball, vp., 111. 
played out, a., 79. 
play for a sucker, vp., 142. 
play possum, vp., 79. 
plaza, 86, 240, 300. 
plead, 196. 
pled, 196, 199. 

plough, 27, 82, 98, 244, 250, 
1 3 248, 260, 261. 

plow, 244, 246, 250, 252, 


plug along, vp., 319. 
plumb, adv., 79. 
plump, adv., 79. 
plunder, 31, 33. 
plunder-bund, 152. 
pluralist, 112. 
plute, 160. 

Plymouth Brethern, 113. 
poche, 94. 
pocher, 94. 
pochgen, 94. 
pochger, 94. 
pocket, 155. 
pocket-book, 110. 
podgy, 244, 246. 
podlog, 156. 
Poe, 273. 
Poh, 273. 
point, n., 114. 

point-of-view, 90. 

points, 83, 101. 

poique, 158n. 

pois, 77n. 

poke, n., 94. 

poker, 94. 

pokerish, 94. 

poke-weed, 45. 

pokker, 94. 

polack, 279. 

poncho, 86. 

pond, 46, 51. 

pone, 33, 41. 

pontiff, 254. 

pony, 85. 

pony up, vp., Ill, 164. 

poor-house, 100, 106. 

pop, n., 160. 

pop-concert, 160. 

pop-corn, 18, 46. 

poppycock, 81. 

popular concert, 160. 

populist, 160. 

porgy, 40. 

pork, 168. 

pork-barrel, 83, 107, 142, 15, 


pork-feet, 19n. 
porpess, 250, 252. 
porpoise, 250, 252. 
porque, 158, 158n. 
porridge, 47, 99, 105, 10. 
portage, 43, 86, 296. 
portiere, 264. 
Port Tobacco, 287. 
Portugee, 229. 
possum, 160. 
post, n., 103, 139. 
postal-card, 103. 
postal-order, 103. 
post-card, 103. 
posterior, 248n. 
post-free, 100, 103. 
postillion, 260. 
postman, 19n, 99. 
postpaid, 100, 103. 
postum, 166. 
potato-bug, 45. 
poteen, 90. 
Poteet, 274. 
Potomac, 287. 
pot-pie, 53, 100. 
pound, 139. 
Pound, 277. 
Powell, 283. 
powerful, 81. 
pow-wow, 41. 
prairie, 40, 43, 86, 294. 
prairie-schooner, 81. 
Praise-God, 284. 
pram, 97. 
p'raps, 239. 



prebendary, 112. 

precinct, 83. 

preelood, 240. 

preferred, 171. 

prelude, 240. 

premeer, 240. 

premiere, 240. 

premiss, 260. 

preparatory-school, 160. 

prepaid, 100, 103. 

prep-school, 104, 160. 

presentation, 112. 

president, 104, 119. 

presidential, 30, 50, 51, 136. 

prespiration, 238. 

press, n., 100. 

pressman, 99, 108. 

pretence, 244. 

pretense, 244. 

pretty, 175. 

pretzel, 88. 

prickly-heat, 46. 

i primarily, 170. 
primary, n., 83, 84. 
primate, 112. 
prime minister, 122. 
primero, 94. 
Prince Albert, 14. 
principal, ., 104. 
private-detective, 110. 
private-enquiry-agent, 110. 
prob'ly, 238. 
procurer, 127. 
professor, 33, 117, 118. 
program (me), 100, 171, 244, 

245, 260, 262, 263. 
progress, v., 48, 51. 
Prolog, 262. 
promenade, 98. 
proof-reader, 100. 
propaganda, 33. 
proper, adv., 227. 
property, 155. 
proposition, 116. 
prosit, 89, 89n. 
prostitute, 127. 
protectograph, 165. 
protege, 240, 264. 
Protestant Episcopal, 113. 
prove, 196. 
proved, 196. 
proven, 196. 
provost, 104. 
pub, 105, 139. 
public-comfort-station, 127. 
public-company, 106. 
public-house, 100, 105, 124. 
public-school, 100, 104. 
public-servant, 27, 99, 105. 
publishment, 31, 77. 
pudding, 88n. 
pudgy, 244, 246. 

puerile, 174. 

raise, n., 33, 156, v., 196. 

pull up stakes, vp., 78. 

raised, 196. 

pull wool over his eyes, vp., 

rake-off, 10. 


Ralph, 286. 

pumpernickel, 88. 

ram, 126. 

pumpkin, 172. 

rambunctious, 81, 82, 166. 

pung, 48. 

ran, 196, 206. 

pungy, 47, 48, 111. 

ranch, n., 86; v., 87. 

punster, 90n. 

ranchero, 30. 

punt, n., 111. 

ranchman, 87. 

Purgatoire, 292. 

rancho, 30. 

purse, 110. 

rancor, 244. 

push, n., 319. 

rancour, 244. 

pushed, 201. 

rang, 196. 

pusht, 201. 

range, 81. 

put, 164, 196. 

rapides, 46n. 

put a bug in his ear, vp., 78. 

rapids, 40, 46, 86. 

put it down, vp., 103. 

rare, a., 100, 104; ., 237. 

put over, vp., 164. 

rate-payer, 101, 105. 

pygmy, 244, 247. 

rates, 101. 

pyjamas, 244, 252, 258, 259, 

rathskeller, 88, 240. 


rational, 173. 

rattler, 160. 

Q-room, 264. 

rattlesnake, 160. 

quadroon, 43. 

rattling, llOn. 

quaff, 95. 

Raymond, 283. 

quahaug, 30, 42. 

razor, 155. 

quandary, 306. 

razor-back, 45. 

quan'ity, 238. 

razor-strop, 237n. 

quarantine-flag, 125. 

re, */., 252, 253, 256, 25T. 

quarter-day, 114. 

259, 261. 

quartette, 260. 

read, 105, 196. 

quate, 236. 

read for holy orders, rji.. 

quaver, 113. 


questionize, 77. 

ready-made, 124. 

queue, 106. 

ready-tailored, 124. 

quick, adv., 227. 

ready-to-wear, 124. 

quit, 196. 

real-estate agent, 18. 

quite, 114, 116, 117. 

really, 228. 

quitter, 14. 

realm, 251. 

quoit, 236. 

rear, v., 237. 

quotation-marks, 100. 

recall, n., 107. 

receipts, 100. 

r, letter, 60. 

recent, adv., 228. 

r-sound, 61. 

reckon, 81. 

rabbit, 54. 

reco'nize, 238. 

Rabinovitch, 280. 

rd, /., 201. 

raccoon, 40, 134n, 160. 

reddish, 237. 

racing-dope, 94. 

red-eye, 85. 

radish, 237. 

Red Indian, 99. 

ragamuffin, 56. 

red-light-district, 127. 

rail, 82. 

reed-bird, 45. 

railroad, n., 100; v., 83. 

reel-of-cotton, 103. 

railroad-man, 83, 100. 

reflexion, 260. 

rails, 100. 

refresher, 108. 

railway, 100. 

regime, 264. 

railway-guard, 118. 

regular, adv., 227; n., 88. 

railway-man, 135. 

regularity, 84. 

railway-rug, 88. 

Reichman, 280. 

railway-servant, 100. 
railway-sub-office, 83. 

Reiger, 274. 
Reindollar, 277. 

Rain-in-the-Face, 86. 

reit-eve, 166. 


releasement, 31, 77. 

reliable, 28, 28n, 51, 138. 

relm, 251. 

reminisce, v., 142. 

remnant, 155. 

rench, 91, 196, 287. 

renched, 196. 

rent, v., 201. 

rep, 160. 

repeater, 83, 84, 107. 

repertoire, 264. 

reputation, 160. 

requirement, 31. 

requisite, 250, 251. 

reserve, v., 106. 

resinol, 165. 

resolute, 77, 142. 

restaurant, 124. 

re'sume', 265. 

resurrect, 24, 77. 

retainer, 108. 

retiracy, 77. 

return-ticket, 83, 100, 10<J. 

Reuss, 275. 

Rev., 122. 

Rhine wine, 100, 104. 

Richman, 280. 

rickey, 85. 

rid, 196. 

ride, 196. 

ridden, 196. 

riffle, 46. 

riff-raff, 56. 

rigadon, 44. 

right, a. and adv., 24, 148, 


right along, 148. 
right away, 148, 149, 155. 
right good, 148. 
right honorable, 107, 118, 

119, 120. 
right now, 148. 
right off, 148. 
right often, 148. 
right-of-way, 83. 
right on time, 148. 
right smart, 148. 
right there, 148. 
right-thinker, 302. 
right well, 148. 
rigmarole, 56. 
rigor, 244. 
rigorism, 247. 
rigor mortis, 247. 
rigour, 244. 
Riker, 274. 
rile, 143, 196, 236. 
riled, 196. 
rime, 258. 
rind, 172. 
ring, 196. 
ring me up, vp., 103. 

rinse, 91, 196n, 237. 

ripping, 116n, 171. 

rise, v., 107, 196. 

rised, 198. 

ritualism, 112. 

river, 298. 

riz, 196. 

road, 300. 

road-agent, 14, 14n. 

road-bed, 100. 

road-louse, 163. 

road-mender, 100. 

road-repairer, 100. 

roast, 100. 

roast-beef, 88n. 

roasting-ear, 46. 

Robbins, 280. 

Robinia, pseudacacia, 45. 

Robinson, 104, 278. 

Rochefort, 240. 

rock, n., 31, 33, 52, 53, 53n. 

Rockaway, 287. 

rock-pile, 53. 

rode, 196, 198, 205, 206. 

Rogers, 280. 

Rogowsky, 280. 

roil, 142, 196n. 

role, 264. 

roll-call, 100. 

roller-coaster, 77. 

rolling-country, 46. 

Roman Catholic, 113. 

romanza, 73. 

room, v., 49. 

roorback, 83, 84. 

rooster, 19n, 100, 126. 

rooter, 111. 

rope in, vp., 78. 

rose, v., 196. 

Rose, 280. 

Rosecrans, 274. 

Rosenau, 276, 280. 

Rosen-baum, -berg, -blatt, 
-blum, -busch, -feldt, 
-heim, -stein, -thai, 280. 

Rosenkrantz, 274. 

Roth, 276. 

Rotten row, 41. 

rotter, 129. 

rouge, 291. 

rough, a., 261 ; adv., 146. 

rough-house, 23. 

rough-neck, 81, 81n. 

roundsman, 105. 

round-trip, 82. 

round-trip-ticket, 100, 106. 

round-up, 81. 

rous mit "im, 89. 

roustabout, 80. 

route de roi, 41. 

row, n., 109. 

rowdy, 81, 310. 

Roy, 283. 
Royce, 275. 
R. 8. O., 83. 
rubber-neck, ., 10, 14, 

v., 202. 
rube, 14, 15. 
Rubinowitz, 278. 
ruby, 114. 
ruby-nonpariel, 114. 
ruf, 262. 
Rugby, 111. 
rugger, 111. 
rum-dumb, 89. 
rumor, 244. 
rumour, 244. 
run, n., 46, 82, 108; v., 

107, 196. 
rung, 196. 
run-in, n., 164. 
run into the ground, vp., 
run slow, 146. 
Russian, 279n. 
rutabaga, 100, 109. 
Ruven, 284. 
ruz, 198. 
Ryan, 271. 

Sabbaday, 160. 

sabe, 87. 

sachem, 42, 42n. 

sack, 33. 

Sadd'y, 172, 238. 

sagamore, 30. 

said, 196. 

Saint-Denis, 273. 

St. John, 283. 

St. Leger, 283. 

St. Louis, 291. 

St. Martin's summer, 99. 

Saint-Maure, 273. 

St. Nicholas, 43n. 

sale, 155. 

salesgirl, 121. 

saleslady, 121, 156. 

saleswoman, 100, 121. 

Salmon, 280. 

Salomon, 280. 

saloon, 18, 85, 100. 

saloon-carriage, 99. 

saloon-keeper, 85. 

saloon-loafer, 139. 

salt-lick, 46. 

Salt river, 107. 

saltwater-taffy, 14. 

samp, 42. 

sample, 155. 

sample-room, 85. 

San Antonio, 292. 

sanataria, 265. 

sandwich, 154. 

sang, 196, 205. 

sangerfest, 89, 151. 



sank, 196. 

Santa Klaus, 43, 43n. 

sa's'parella, 238. 

sashay, 239. 

sassy, 236. 

sat, 196, 202, 206. 

satisfaction, 173. 

sauce, 91. 

sault, 291. 

Sault Ste. Marie, 291. 

saunter, 95. 

sauerkraut, see sour-kraut. 

saurkraut, see sour-kraut. 

savagerous, 77. 

Saviour, 245, 247. 

savory, 244. 

savoury, 244. 

saw, v., 196, 205. 

sawft, 175. 

saw wood, vp., 49. 

say, 196. 

scab, 14, 133. 

scalawag, 81, 82, 166. 

scallywampus, 82n, 166. 

scalp, v., 48. 

scant, 57. 

scarce, 228. 

scarce as hen's teeth, 309. 

scarcely, 228. 

scarf-pin, 100. 

scary, 24, 79. 

ecenarioize, 164. 

sceptic, 245, 261. 

sell-sound, 62. 

schadchen, 151. 

Schaefer, 277. 

schedule, 176. 

scheme, 62. 

scherzo, 240. 

Schlachtfeld, 280. 

Schlegel, 276. 

Schluter, 276. 

Schmidt, 271. 

schmierkase, see smearcase. 

Schnabele, 275. 

Schneider, 271, 272, 276, 280. 

schnitz, 89. 

schnitzel, 88. 

Schoen, 276. 

Schon, 276. 

Schonberg, 277. 

scholar, 155. 

school, 155. 

schooner, 47, 85, 105. 

Schrader, 275. 

Schroeder, 275. 

Schultz, 271. 

Schumacher, 277. 

schiitzenfest, 89. 

Schwab, 275. 

Schwartz, 277. 

schweinefiisse, lOn. 

schweizer, 88, 240. 

Schwettendieck, 281. 

scientist, 28, 28n, 131. 

scimetar, 244. 

scimitar, 244. 

scoon, v., 47. 

scooner, 47. 

scoot, 78, 105. 

scow, 40, 43, 100, 111. 

scowegian, 279. 

scrap, 81n, 134. 

scrape n., 81. 

scrubb'n, 157. 

scrumdifferous, 82n. 

scrumptious, 81. 

scullery, 106. 

scullery-maid, 103. 

s6, pro., 216n. 

sea-board, 31. 

sea-shore, 31. 

seat, 126. 

second-hand, 124. 

second-wing, 126. 

second-year man, 104. 

secretary, 108, 170, 176. 

section, 109. 

see, 196. 

teen, 189, 196, 198. 

see the elephant, vp., 79. 

seganku, 40. 

segar, 264. 

seidel, 89. 

selectman, 30, 47. 

self, 224. 

sell, v., 196. 

semi-breve, 113. 

semi-brevis, 113. 

semi-demi-semi-quaver, 113. 

semi-minima, 113. 

semi-occasional, 27, 81. 

semi-quaver, 113. 

send, 196, 201. 

sende, 201. 

senior, 104. 

senior-prom, 105. 

sefior, 265. 

sefiorita, 158. 

sent, 196. 

sente, 201. 

seofan, 114. 

septicaemia, 244. 

septums, 265. 

servant, 102, 124, 136. 

serviette, 99. 

set, v., 196, 202. 

set-off, 31. 

seven- and-forty, 114. 

Seventh Day Adventist, 113. 

sew, 250, 261. 

Sewell, 274. 

sewer, 100. 

Seymour, 278. 

sez, 196, 211. 

'sGravenhage, 281. 

shack, 14. 

shaddock, 109. 

shake, v., 196, 204. 

shaken, 196, 199, 204. 

shall, 143, 144, 191, 208, 210. 

Shane, 276. 

sha'n't, 210. 

shanty, 86. 

shareholder, 100, 106. 

shares, 101, 106. 

shave, 196. 

shaved, 196. 

Shawangunk, 297. 

she, 212, 220. 

shebang, 93. 

shebeen, 93. 

shed, v., 196, 200. 

shell, 85. 

shell-road, 46. 

Shepherd, 277. 

Sheppard, 277. 

Sher, 280. 

Sherman, 280. 

sherry-cobbler, 84. 

shevaleer, 251. 

shew, 244, 246. 

shillelah, 90. 

shilling, 139. 

shilling-shocker, 98. 

shily, 260. 

shin, v., 49. 

shine, 196. 

shined, 196. 

shingle, n., 46; v., 48. 

shirt, 126. 

shirtso, 240. 

shirt-waist, 100, 103. 

shoat, 33. 

shod, 203. 

shoe, n., 19n, 62, 63, 100, 

137; v., 196, 203. 
shed, 196, 203. 
shoeing, 203. 
shoemaker, 100. 
Shoemaker, 277. 
shoe-string, 100. 
shoe- tree, 100. 
shoo-fly, 311. 
shook, v., 196. 
shoot, v., 196. 
shooting, n., 99, 115. 
shoot-the-chutes, 163. 
shop, n., 52, 63, 105, 136, 

138, 155; v., 188. 
shop-assistant, 100. 
shop-fittings, 101, 138. 
shoplifter, 138. 
shopper, 188. 
shopping, 188. 
shop-walker, 98, 124. 



shop-worn, 138. 

short and ugly word, 306. 

shot, v., 196. 

shot-gun, 80. 

should, 60, 210. 

should not ought, 210. 

shouldn't, 210. 

should of, 234. 

should ought, 191, 210. 

show, n., 155, 157; v., 164, 

244, 246, 196. 
show-down, 10, 164. 
showed, 196. 
show up, vp., 164. 
shrub, 85. 

shuck, v., 48, 196, 204. 
shunt, 83, 101. 
shut out, vp., 111. 
shutup'n, 157. 
shuyster, 90n. 
shyster, 89, 89-90n. 
si, pro., 216n. 
siad, pro., 216n. 
sick, 10, 56, 56n, 100, 125. 
sick at the stomach, 125. 
sick-bed, -flag, -leave, -list, 

-room, 125. 
siddup, 172. 
side-hill, 31. 
side-stepper, 14. 
side-swipe, v., 83. 
side-track, v., 83. 
sidewalk, 14, 47, 100, 110. 
sideways, 229. 
Sidney, 273, 283. 
sierra, 87. 

silk-stocking, a., 107. 
silver, 100. 
simp, 160. 
simpleton, 160. 
sing, 196, 317. 
singan, 232. 
singen, 317. 
single-track mind, 83n. 
Sing-Sing, 290. 
'sink, v., 196. 
Sint Klaas, 43n. 
Sioux, 291. 
siphon, 244. 
siren, 244, 257. 
sit, 197, 202, 206. 
sitten, 206. 
sitting-room, 103. 
skedaddle, 87. 
skeer, 237. 
skeerce, 237. 
skeptic, 245, 246, 247. 
skiddoo, 92. 
skin, n., 85; v., 197. 
skun, 197, 199. 
skunk, 40, 134. 
fikunna, 48. 

skus me, 239. 

snake, 107. 

slack, v., 306. 

snake-fence, 81. 

slacker, 306, 310. 

Snavely, 275. 

slaepan, 200. 

sneak, v., 197. 

elaepte, 200. 

snew, 199. 

Slagel, 276. 

snitz, 89. 

slam the pill, vp., 311. 

Snively, 275. 

slang, v., 197. 

snook, v., 49. 

slangwhanger, 31. 

snoop, 49. 

slate, 83, 103. 

snoot, 237. 

slavey, 103. 

snooted, 85. 

sled, 100. 

snout, 237. 

sledge, 100. 

Snow Moon, 42n. 

sleep, v., 24, 197. 

snow-plow, 46. 

sleeper, 82, 98, 160. 

snuck, 197. 

sleep good, 149. 

Snyder, 272, 276. 

sleeping-car, 160. 

S. O. B., 127. 

sleeve, 155. 

sob-sister, 163. 

sleigh, 40, 100. 

social-disease, 127. 

slep, 19?r*2Ut), 238. 

social-evil, 127. 

slept, 201. 

soccer, 111. 

slick, 236. 

sockdolager, 81. 

slid, 197. 

sock-suspenders, 98, 104. 

slide, 197. 

sodalicious, 166. 

slightly-used, 124. 

soe, 250, 251. 

slily, 260. 

soft, adv., 226. 

slim, 79. 

soft-drinks, 85, 100. 

sling, n., 84 ; v., 197. 

soi, pro., 225. 

slip, n., 50. 

soiree, 264. 

slipper, 52. 

sold, 196. 

slit, v., 197, 203. 

soli, 266. 

slitted, 197, 203. 

solicitor, 108. 

sliver, 174. 

solid, 50. 

slog, 245, 246. 

Solmson, 280. 

s'long, 239. 

Solomon, 280. 

slopped, 85. 

sombrero, 14, 86. 

slosh, 245, 246. 

some, a. and adv., 149, 306. 

slow, adv., 227. 

some pumpkins, 33. 

slug, 245, 246. 

somewheres, 147. 

slumgullion, 81. 

son, pro., 225. 

slung, 197. 

son-in-laws, 229. 

slush, 245, 246. 

Sontag, 277. 

slush-fund, 152. 

Soo, 291. 

Sluter, 276. 

soot, 250. 

Smackover, 291. 

sophomore, 47, 104. 

small, 79. 

soprani, 265. 

small-pearl, 114. 

sort'a, 234. 

small-pica, 114. 

s. o. s., v., 164. 

small-potatoes, 33, 81. 

sot, v., 196n. 

smart, 31. 

Soule, 274. 

smash, n., 85. 

sound, n., 108. 

smearcase, 43, 265. 

sour, n., 85. 

smell, v., 197. 

sour-kraut, 30, 44, 88, 152. 

smelt, 197. 

soused, 85. 

smited, 198. 

sovereign, 252. 

Smith, 271, 277, 281. 

sow, 126. 

Smith-Barry, 282n. 

space-rates, 108. 

smithereens, 90. 

spaghetti, 151, 152. 

smoker, 160. 

spalpeen, 90. 

smoking-car, 160. 

span, n., 43; v., 197. 

smote, 198. 

spanner, 99. 

Snabely, 275. 

spat, 203. 



speak-easy, 85. 

speaking-tour, 107. 

speciality, 264. 

specialty, 264. 

speck, 89. 

sped, 203. 

speed, v., 197, 202. 

speeded, 197, 203. 

speeder, 203. 

speeding, 203. 

speed-limit, -mania, -maniac, 


speedway, 299. 
spell, v., 197. 
spelling-bee, 47. 
spelt, 197. 
spera, 158. 
spiel, 240. 
spieler, 93. 
spiggoty, 279. 
spigot, 100. 
spill, v., 197. 
spilt, 197. 
spin, v., 197. 
spit, v., 197, 203. 
splendiferous 166. 
splendor, 245. 
splendour, 245. 
splinter-bar, 101. 
split a ticket, vp., 84. 
split one's sides, tip., 92. 
split-ticket, 84, 107. 
splurge, n., 77. 
spoil, 197. 
spoilt, 197. 
spondulix, 81. 
spoof, 129. 
spool-of-thread, 103. 
sport, 88n. 
sporting, 171. 
sporting-house, 127. 
sprang, 197. 
spread, v., 202. 
spread-eagle, 81. 
spread one's self, vp., 78. 
sprightly, 31. 
spring, v., 197. 
sprung, 197. 
spry, 31. 
spuke, 30. 
squantersquash, 41. 
square, 110. 
square-head, 279. 
square-meal, 81. 
squash, 40, 100, 104, 160. 
squat, v., 49, 51. 
squatter, 31, 40. 
squaw, 41, 134. 
squaw-man, 86. 
squealer, 156. 
squinch, 237. 
squirrel-whiskey, 85. 

stack hay, vp., 48. 
stag, a., 14, 14n. 
stage, 31. 
stage-coach, 31. 
stag-party, 80. 
staits-preussen, 155. 
Staley, 275. 
stallion, 155. 
stalls, 99, 106. 
stalwart, 83. 
stamp, v., 95, 237. 
stampede, 43. 
stamping-ground, 47. 
stanch, 245. 
standen, 155. 
stand, v., 84, 107. 
stand-patter, 163. 
standpoint, 28, 28n, 51, 90, 


standpunkt, 90. 
stang, 190, 197. 
stank, 197. 

Stanley, 283. 
start off, vp., 164. 
start-off, n., 164. 
state-house, 47. 
statutory-offense, 127. 
staunch, 245, 260. 

stave off, vp., 31. 

stays, n., 98. 

steal, 197. 

steam-roller, 307, 312. 

steady, a., 250, 251; adv., 

steddy, 251. 

steep, 116. 

Stehli, 275. 

stein, n., 89; /., 282. 

Steiner, 277. 

Steinway, 275. 

stem-winder, 27, 100. 

stenog, 160. 

stent, 239. 

stew, 174. 

steward, 107. 

stewed, 85. 

stick, n., 85, 97, 110. 

stiff, 116. 

stile, 251. 

sting, 197. 

stink, 197. 

stinkibus, 84. 

stint, 239. 

stock, 56, 106. 

stock-holder, 100. 

stocking-feet, 81. 

stocks, 101. 

stogie, 105. 

Stolar, 280. 

stole, 197, 205. 

stomach, 125, 126. 

stomp, v., 237. 

stonden, 206. 

stone, 31, 114. 

stone-fence, 84. 

Stoner, 277. 

stone-wall, 85. 

stoop, 30, 43, 156. 

stop-over, n., 82. 

stop over, vp., 83. 

store, n., 52, 53, 138, 155. 

store-clothes, 81. 

store-fixtures, 101. 

store-keeper, 124. 

stores, 98, 99, 101, 102, 103. 

storey, 103, 245, 257, 260 

story, 245, 257, 263. 

straight, 85. 

straight-ticket, 83, 107. 

street, 155, 157, 299. 

street-cleaner, 101, 105. 

street-corner, 110. 

street-railway, 101. 

street-walker, 128. 

stren'th, 238. 

stricken out, tip., 108. 

strike, v., 197. 

strike it rich, vp., 78. 

strike out, vp., 111. 

string, n., 110. 

strit-kar, 155. 

strong-arm-squad, 105. 

strop, 237n. 

struck out, tip., 108. 

stuck on, vp., 238. 

Studebaker, 277. 

student, 105. 

study, v., 105. 

study for the ministry, vp. 


study medicine, vp., 104. 
stump, v., 24, 49, 135. 
stumped, 44. 
stumping-trip, 107. 
stump-oratory, 135. 
stunt, 133, 239. 
stupor, 247. 
Sturgeon Moon, 42n. 
style, 251. 
subaltern, 105. 
subway, 101, 110. 
succor, 245. 
succotash, 30, 33r 41. 
succour, 245. 
sucker, 14, 133. 
suffragan, 112. 
sugar, 133. 
suit-case, 106. 
Sullivan, 271. 
summon, n., 229. 
sundae, 165. 
Sunday, 277. 
sunflower, 394. 
sung, 196. 



sunk, 196. 

supawn, 42. 

super, pref., 154, 230. 

supergobosnoptious, 82n. 

super gobsloptious, 166. 

super-tax, 109. 

Snplee, 276. 

SuplSe, 276. 

Supplee, 276. 

sure, adv., 34, 146, 227, 228. 

surely, 228. 

sur.e Mike, 157. 

surgery, 108. 

surtax, 109. 

suspenders, 19n, 81, 101, 104, 


sut, 250. 
swaller, 239. 
swam, 197. 
swamp, 109. 
swang, 197. 
swear, 197. 
swear off, vp., 135. 
sweater, 101. 
sweep, v., 197. 
sweepstakes, 88n. 
sweet-corn, 109. 
sweet-potato, 109. 
sweets, 97, 103, 110. 
swell, v., 197. 
swelldoodle, 166. 
swellellegous, 82n. 
swep, 197, 200. 
swim, v., 197. 
swing, v., 197. 
swingle-tree, 56. 
switch, n., 82, 101; v., 83, 


switching-engine, 82. 
switchman, 82. 
switch-yard, 82. 
swole, 197, 201. 
swollen, 197. 
Swope, 275. 
sword, 60, 171. 
swore, 197. 
swum, 197. 
swung, 197. 
sycamore, 294. 
syphilis, 127, 128. 
syphon, 244. 
syren, 244, 257. 

t-sound, 96. 
Taaffe, 272. 
tabernacle, 112. 
table, v., 48. 
tablecloth, 155. 
tactic, 229. 
taffy, 245, 246. 
Taft, 272. 
tailor-made, 108. 

take, 103, 197. 

take a back seat, vp., 78. 

taken, 197. 

take in, vp., 103. 

take on, vp., 31. 

take orders, vp., 112. 

take silk, vp., 108. 

take to the woods, vp., 49. 

takings, 100. 

talented, 31, 133. 

Taliaferro, 282. 

talk-fest, 151. 

talk through your hat, vp. 


tamale, 87. 
tambour, 44. 
tanked, 85. 
tank-town, 83n. 
tap, n., 100. 
tapioca, 41. 
tariff-reform, 107. 
tarnal, 129. 
tarnation, 129. 
tart, n., 53, 100, 129. 
tassel, 173. 
tasteful, 146. 
tasty, 24, 27, 146. 
taught, 197. 
tavern, 53. 
taxed-paid, 142n. 
taxes, 101. 
taxi, v., 163. 
tax-paid, 101. 
tay, 91, 91n. 
Taylor, 271, 272, 280. 
T. B., 161. 
tea, 91. 

teach, 197, 203. 
teacher, 155. 
team, 52. 
tear, v., 197. 
tea-shop, 137. 
Tecumseh, 285. 
teetotaler, 81. 
telegrapher, 170. 
telephone, 160. 
telescope, v., 83, 135. 
tell, 197. 

temporarily, 170. 
tenant, 155, 156. 
tender, n., 97. 
tenderfoot, 81. 
tenderloin, 101, 104, 163. 
tenner, 156. 
ten-pins, 101, 111. ' 
tepee, 42. 
terrapin, 40, 109. 
Terre Haute, 291. 
terrible, adv., 190. 
tlte, 306. 
te^e-a-tete, 264. 
than, 223, 231. 

Thanksgiving day, 114. 

thank you kindly, 92. 

that, 216, 217. 

that'a way, 234. 

that get's me, 142. 

that'n, 216, 217. 

that-one, 216. 

that-there, 216, 217. 

theater, 263. 

theatre, 250, 259, 260. 

the, 92, 123, 172. 

thee, 219. 

their, 212, 213, 214. 

theirn, 212, 214. 

theirs, 213, 214. 

theirself, 224, 225. 

theirselves, 224, 225. 

them, 212, 216, 217, 219. 

Themicoud, 272. 

themselves, 225. 

them-there, 216. 

thence, 228. 

there, 145, 228. 

there's no two ways about 

it, vp., 31. 
these, 216, 217. 
these-here, 216, 217. 
thesen, 216. 
These States, 73. 
they, 212, 213. 
they is, 238. 
thimble, 155. 
thin, pro., 214. 
thine, 214. 
think, n., 197. 
this, 216, 217. 
this' a way, 234. 
this-here, 216, 217. 
thisn, 216, 238. 
this-one, 216. 
thither, 145, 228. 
tho, 262, 263. 
thoro, 262, 263. 
thorofare, 262, 
thoroly, 262, 263. 
Thoroughgood, 273. 
those, 216, 217. 
thosen, 216. 
those-there, 216, 217. 
thou, 215. 
thought, v., 197. 
thread, 250, 251. 
threat, 251. 
thred, 251. 
thret, 251. 

three of a kind, 111. 
three strikes and out, vp., 


threw, 197, 203. 
thrive, 197. 
throve, 197. 
throw, 197. 



throw a rock, vp., 53. 

throwed, 197, 199, 203. 

thru, 262, 263. 

thruout, 262. 

Thugut, 272. 

thum, n., 251 ; auf., 154n. 

thumb, 250, 251. 

Thunichgut, 272. 

thunk, 197n. 

Thurgod, 273. 

thy, 214. 

ticket, 33. 

ticket-agent, 82. 

ticket-office, 83, 101. 

ticket-scalper, 81, 82. 

tickler, 81. 

tie, n., 82, 99. 

tie-pin, 100. 

tight-wad, 162. 

Tilia, 45. 

tiles, 103. 

tin, n., 97, 102, 103; v., 102. 

tinker, 101. 

tin-Lizzie, 142. 

tinned-goods, 97. 

tinner, 101. 

tin-roof, 101. 

tire, n., 245, 246, 257, 263. 

tisch, 156. 

toboggan, 41, 134. 

Todenaker, 273. 

toffy, 245, 246. 

toil, 91n. 

toilet(te), 127, 153, 154, 245. 

tole, 197, 201, 238. 

to let, 137. 

tomahawk, n., 41, 318; v., 

tomato, 87, 173. 

Tom and Jerry, 85. 

Tombigbee, 30. 

Tom Collins, 85. 

Tommy-rot, 310. 

tong, 93. 

tongue, 250, 252, 262. 

tonsorial-parlor, 124. 

tony, 27, 81, 280. 

took, 197. 

tooken, 205. 

Toothaker, 278. 

topliner, 99, 106. 

tore, 197. 

torn, 197 

tornado, 87, 109 

tote, 31, 49. 

tough, a., 319; n., 133. 

tourist, 88n. 

towards, 147, 148, 229. 

towerman, 82. 

town, suf., 296. 
track, 101. 
track-walker, 82. 

tradesman, 124. 

2 o'clock, 127. 

tradesmen' s-entrance, 137. 

typewriter, 101, 103. 

traffic, 137. 

typhoid-fever, 101. 

trail, n., 46; v., 48. 

typist, 101, 103. 

train-boy, 82. 

tyre, 245, 257, 260. 

trained-nurse, 101. 

trait, 172, 176. 

u-*ound, 60, 96. 

tram, 105, 106. 

il-oun<J, 174, 274. 

tram-car, 101. 

ugly, 81. 

tramp, 133. 

Uhler, 276. 281. 

tramway, 101. 

Uhlyarik, 281. 

translatour, 248n. 

uhrgucker, '.tun. 

transom, 101. 

umbrella, 239. 

transpite, 134, 136. 

underbrush, 46. 

trapee, 229. 

undercut, 101, 104. 

trash, 56. 

underdone, 100, 104. 

travel, 173. 

underground, 101, 110. 

traveler, 245, 250, 262. 

underground-railroad, 83n. 

Traveler's Moon, 4wn. 

underpinned, 50. 

traveller, 245, 262. 

underpinning, 56. 

treacle, 10, 99, 106. 

undershirt, 101, 110, 259. 

tread, v., 197, 200. 

undertaker, 124. 

trewe, adv., 226. 

under the weather, vp., 81, 

trickster, 90n. 


tripos, 105. 

uneeda, 165. 

tripper, 83, 98. 

union, 105. 

triscuit, 165. 

unit, 47. 

troble, 262. 

Universalist, 31. 

trod, 200. 

university, 124. 

trolley-car, 101. 

unworthy, adv., 226. 

Trotterscliffe, 283. 

up, 107. 

trouble, 155, 262. 

up against, vp., 134. 

trousers, 110. 

uplift, n., 10, 113, 165. 

truck, 83, 101. 

np-line, 110. 

true, 174. 

up-state, 24, 109. 

true-blue, 79. 

up-train, 110. 

trunk, 101, 106. 

TLT-sound, 158. 

trust-buster, 143, 310. 

us, 220. 

trustification, 142. 

use, 155. 

trustify, 142. 

used, 124. 

tub, v., 137. 

used to could, 31. 

tube, 101, 110. 

usen, 156. 

Tuesday, 174. 

usen't, 234. 

tumor, 245. 

usher, 104. 

tumour, 245. 

usually, 228. 

tune the old cow died of, 


tung, 250, 252, 262. 

vacationize, 164. 

Tunicotto, 272. 

vag, 160. 

tiir, 156. 

valor, 245. 

turbot, 109. 

valour, 245. 

turkey-gobbler, 45. 

vamose, 87. 

turn, v., 164. 

vamp, v., 311. 

turn-down, n., 164. 

van, 98. 

turn down, vp., 164, 319. 

Van Arsdale, 274.. 

turning, n., 110. 

Van de Veer, 274. 

turnpike, 31, 160. 

Vandiver, 274. 

turnpike-road, 31. 

Van Huys, 274. 

turnverein, 89. 

vanilla-r, 171. 

twelvemonth, 114. 

Vannersdale, 274. 

23, 161. 

Vannice, 274. 

twice't, 238. 

Van Schaick, 282. 

twine, 110. 

Van Siegel, 274. 



Van Sickle, 274. 

vapor, 245. 

vapour, 245. 

varinte, 31. 

variation, 31. 

variety, 153. 

vary, 31. 

vase, 95, 240. 

vaseline, 165, 166. 

vaudeville, 153, 240. 

vaudeville-theatre, 101, 153. 

vegetable-marrow, 100, 104. 

vegetables, 101. 

Venable, 282. 

Venables, 282. 

Venables-Vernon, 282n. 

venereal-disease, 127, 128. 

veranda, 245. 

verandah, 245. 

verger, 112. 

Versailles, 291. 

vest, 101, 110, 156, 259. 

vestry, 107. 

vial, 245, 246. 

vicar, 112. 

vice, 245. 

vice-chancellor, 104. 

vice-diseases, 128. 

victrola, 165. 

victualler, 105. 

viertel, 113. 

vigilante, 87. 

vigor, 245. 

vigour, 245. 

Viola tricolor, 45. 

virgin, 128. 

virtuosi, 265. 

vise, 245. 

vogelgesang, 277. 

Voice-Like-Thunder, 86. 

vois avez, 172. 

voodoo, 44. 

voting-paper, 107. 

voyageur, 43. 

w-sound, 60. 

Wabash, 290. 

waffle, 43. 

wage-day, 99. 

wagen, 90. 

wages, 155. 

waggon, 19n, 98, 245, 257. 

Wagner, 276. 

wagon, 19n, 90, 245, 250, 

252, 257, 260, 261, 263. 
wain, 47. 
waist, 155. 
waistcoat, 101, 110. 
wake, v., 197. 
walk, n., 155, 157, 300. 
walk'd, 201n. 
walk-out, n., 132. 

walk out, vp., 115. 

walk the hospitals, vp., 104. 

walk the ties, vp., 83n. 

walk-up apartment, 110. 

Wall street, 139. 

Wall-street-broker, 107. 

wampum, 33, 42. 

wampum-keeper, 42n. 

wan, v., 197, 204. 

wanderlust, 89. 

wan't, 61. 

want-ad, 160. 

Ward, 271. 

warden, 101. 

ward, executive, 105. 

ward-heeler, 107. 

warehouse, 101. 

Warfield, 280. 

Warner, 275. 

Warner, 275. 

war-paint, 41. 

war-path, 41. 

warphan, 166. 

warphanage, 166. 

Warwick, 297. 

was, 193, 207, 209. 

wash-hand-stand, 101. 

wash'n, 157. 

wash-rag, 101. 

wash-stand, 18. 

wasn't, 61. 

waste-basket, 101. 

waste-paper, basket, 101. 

watch, n., 155. 

watchk6, 156. 

water, v., 135. 

water-closet, 127n. 

water, pitcher, 18. 

water-wagon, 23. 

way-bill, 82. 

Wayman, 275. 

W. 0., 127n. 

we, 212. 

weald, 46. 

wear, v., 197. 

Weaver, 277. 

Weber, 227. 

week-end, 105. 

weep, 197. 

weir, 47, 111. 

Weisberg, 277. 

Weiss, 273, 277. 

well, interjection, 34. 

wellest, 230. 

well-fixed, 116. 

well-heeled, 79. 

Wellington, 97. 

well-posted, 79. 

Welsbach, 276. 

Wemyss, 283. 

went, 195, 205. 

weop, 200. 

wep, 197, 200, 238. 

wepte, 200. 

were, 209, 210. 

weren't, 61. 

Werner, 276. 

Wesleyan, 99, 113. 

west-bound, 110. 

West End, 139. 

wet, v., 197. 

Weymann, 275. 

whap, 31. 

what, 218. 

whatdyecallem, 310. 

wheat-pit, 80. 

when, 61. 

whence, 228. 

where, 61, 145, 228. 

Which, 217, 218. 

which'n, 218. 

whiet, 155. 

whipple-tree, 101. 

whisker, 156. 

whiskey-and-soda, 85. 

whiskey-daisy, 85. 

White 277. 

Whitehill 277. 

Whiteneck, 273. 

white-plush, 85. 

white-slave, 127. 

whitewash, n., 33; v., 49. 

white-wings, 102. 

whither, 145, 228. 

whittle, 56. 

Who, 144, 145, 217, 218, 219. 

whole-souled, 79. 

whom, 144, 145, 179, 218, 


whortleberry, 45. 
whose, 217, 218. 
whosen, 217, 218. 
wid, 226. 
wide, 226. 
wie geht's, 89. 
wienerwurst, 88. 
wife, 126. 

wigwam, 33, 41, 42. 
wild-cat, a., 81. 
Wilkewicz, 277. 
will, auxiliary, 143, 144, 191, 

208, 210. 
Williams, 271. 
willn't, 61. 
Wilson, 277, 278. 
Wilstach, 276. 
wilt, 31, 56. 
wimmen, 250, 251. 
win, 197, 204, 211. 
wind, v., 164, 197. 
windfall, 33. 
window, 155, 156, 157. 
wind-up, n., 164. 
wind up, vp., 164. 



winned, 204. 

wireless, v., 202. 

wire-puller, 83. 

Wirt, 274. 

Wise, 273. 

wiseheimer, 151. 

wish, v., 197. 

wisht, 197, 238. 

witness-box, 101. 

witness-stand, 101. 

Wittnacht, 273. 

wo, 250. 

woe, 250. 

wohnzimmer, 103n. 

woke, 197, 205. 

woken, 197. 

wold, 46. 

Wolf, 280. 

Wolfsheimer, 280. 

wolln't, 61. 

woman, 126. 

women, 250, 251. 

women' s-singles, -wear, 121. 

won, 197, 204. 

wonderful, adv., 226. 

won't, 61. 

wood-alcohol, 101. 

woodchuck, 41. 

Woodhouse, 277. 

woolen, 245, 260. 

woollen, 245, 261. 

wop, 115, 279. 

Worcester, 297. 

Worcestershire, 297n. 

wore, 197. 

workhouse, 100, 105. 

world, 158. 

Worm Moon, 42n. 

worse, 230. 
worser, 230. 
Worth, 274. 
wosterd, 239. 
would, 60. 
would'a, 190, 238. 
would of, 34, 234. 
wound, v., 197. 
wrang, 197. 
wrangler, 105. 
wrassle, 237. 
wrath, 69. 
wrecking-crew, 82. 
wrestle, 237. 
wring, 197. 
write, 197. 
written, 197, 205. 
wrote, 197, 205, 206. 
wroten, 205. 
wrung, 197. 
Wyoming, 290. 

y-gound, 60. 96. 

y, /., 228. 230. 

yam, 109. 

yank, v., 31, 77. 

Yank, 160. 

Yankee, 42, 160, 279n. 

Yankel, 281, 284. 

Yankelevitch, 281. 

Yanker, 42. 

yankie, 42. 

yap, 116. 

ye, 145, 219. 

yeller, 239. 

yellow-back, 134. 

yellow-belly, 279. 

yen, 93. 

yes, 152, 179. 

yes-indeedy, 92. 

yestiddy, 238. 

yodel, 89. 

yok-a-mi, 93. 

Yom Kippur, 114. 

Yosel, 284. 

you, 145, 212, 214, 215, 219. 

you-all, 189, 215. 

Young, 275. 

young man, 116. 

your, 212, 214. 

youre, 213, 214. 

youren, 214. 

youres, 214. 

yourn, 212, 214. 

yours, 214. 

yous, 212, 216. 

yuh, 219. 

Zacharias, 269. 

Zeal, 251. 

zeber, 252. 

zebra, 252. 

zed, 62. 

zee, 62. 

zeel, 251. 

Zimmer, 269. 

Zimmermann, 269, 277. 

Zimmern, 269. 

Zouchy, 269. 

zowie, 310. 

zubumt, 156. 

zug, 116. 

zwei, 89. 

zwei bier, 89. 

zwieback, 89. 

General Index 

Aasen, Ivar, 5. 

Abbreviations, 23, 161. 

Actes de la Socititt Philologique de 

Paris, 18n. 

Adams, Franklin P., 144n. 
Adams, John. 50. 
Adams, John Quincy, 49. 
Ade, George, 16, 191, 305. 
Addison, Joseph, 201n. 
Adjective, American, 24, 27, 30, 33, 44, 

48, 50, 56, 57, 76, 80-83, 230, 231. 
Adverb, American, 24, 44, 76-80, 83, 

146, 226-9. 

Alford, Henry, 75, 76, 220, 312. 
American Academy of Arts and Let- 
ters, 148. 
American Dialect Society, 6, 7, 29, 

Americanism, definitions of; White's, 

10; Lounsbury's, 10; Bartlett's, 30; 

Fowler's, 30; Farmer's, 32; Cla- 

pin's, 33; Thornton's, 33. 
American Magazine, 185n. 
American Philological Association, 


American Review of Reviews, 157n. 
Ames, Nathaniel, 47. 
Annual Review, 38. 
Archer, William, 12, 28. 
Archiv f. d. Studium d. neueren 

Spracken, 18. 
Aristophanes, 18 In. 
Arnold, Matthew, 3. 
Arthur, T. S., 126n. 
Athenaeum, 255. 

Atlantic Educational Journal, 180n. 
Atlantic Monthly, 9, 60n, 149, 305. 
Australian English, 310. 
Authors' and Printers' Dictionary, 

256, 258. 

Babbitt, Eugene H., 140n, 315. 
Bache, Eichard M., 95n, 126, 129n, 


Baltimore street names, 300. 
Baltimore Sun, 265n, 273n, 276n. 
Bancroft, Aaron, 38, 253. 
Bancroft, George, 71. 
Bankhead, John H., 143n. 
Bardsley, Charles W., 284n, 285n 
Barentz, A. E., 18. 
Barrere, Albert, 43, 94. 
Barringer, G. A., 18. 
Bartlett, John Russell, 10, 30, 34, 40, 

44, 74, 87, 126. 
Beach-la-Mar, 318. 
Beecher, Henry Ward, 76. 
Belknap, Jeremy, 39. 
Bennett, Arnold, 13. 
Beverley, Robert, 40, 45, 46. 
Bierce, Ambrose, 305. 
Bible, 56, 143, 198, 213, 226, 293, 307. 
Billings, Josh, 190. 
Blackwood's, 68. 
Bonaparte, Prince, L.-L., 167. 
Book of Common Prayer, 147. 
Borland, Wm. P., 142n. 
Bosson, O. E., 305. 

Boston pronunciation, 58, 95, 173, 174. 
Boucher, Jonathan, 38, 50, 160. 
Boucicault, Dion, 93. 
Boyd, E. A., 320n. 
Boyd, Stephen G., 287n. 
Brackebusch, W., 313, 314n. 
Bradley, Henry, 209, 213n, 214, 257, 


Bremer, Otto, 5. 
Bridges, Robert, 171n, 175, 237. 
Bristed, Chas. A., 36, 75, 77n, 90, 

116n, 133. 
British Critic, 38, 50. 




British Review, 68. 
Brooks, John G., 68n, 126n. 
Brooks, Van Wyck, 4, 140. 
Browne, Edward E., 225. 
Brownell, W. C., 26. 
Brundage, Edward J., 233n. 
Bryant, Wm. Cullen, 67, 71, 73, 253. 
Bryant, Wm. Cullen, his Index Ex- 

purgatorius, 28n, 51, 123. 
Buckler, H. G., 314n. 
Burke, Edmund, 224. 
Burnell, A. C., 41. 
Burnett, John L., 78n. 
Butler, Joseph, 226. 
Buttmann, P. K., 170. 

Cahan, Abraham, 157n, 281n, 284. 

Cambridge Hist, of American Litera- 
ture, 36, 45n, 55n, 68n. 

Cambridge Hist, of English Litera- 
ture, 12, 28n, 59n, 134, 171, 258, 
266, 301n, 308n. 

Campbell, Philip P., 142n. 

Canada, usage in, 120, 318. 

Canning, Geo., 50. 

Cannon, Uncle Joe, 119n. 

Carlyle, Thomas, 135, 272n. 

Carnegie, Andrew, 262. 

Carpenter, W. H., 290n. 

Cassell'a Dictionary, 89n, 135, 136^ 

Century Dictionary, 260. 

Century Magazine, 28n, 123. 

Chamberlain, Joseph, 131, 135. 

Channing, Wm. Ellery, 39, 69, 72. 

Charles II, 61. 

Charters, W. W., 187-93, 203, 210, 
211, 220, 223, 225, 227, 230, 231. 

Chaucer, Geoffrey, 57, 95, 198, 214, 
226, 233. 

Chesterfield, Lord, 9 In. 

Chesterton, Cecil, 13, 15. 

Chesterton, Gilbert K., 13. 

Chicago Daily News, 28n. 

Chicago Record-Herald, 311. 

Chicago Tribune, 17. 

Child, J. J., 6n. 

Chinese loan-words, 93. 

Christian Disciple, 76. 

Christian World, 113n. 

Christy, Robert, 303. 

Churchill, William, 159n, 318n. 

Clapin, Sylva, 33, 304n. 

Clemens, S. L., see Mark Twain. 

Cleveland, Grover, 25. 

Cobb, Lyman, 8, 11, 95, 248, 253, 254. 

Coke, Edward, 215. 

Combs, J. H., 58n. 

Comstock Postal Act, 127. 

Congressional Globe, 74, 285n. 

Congressional Record, 78n, 80, 109n, 
116, 119n, 122, 123n, 141, 149, 162n, 
164, 225, 233, 243n, 260n, 263n. 

Connecticut Code of 1650, 52n. 

Cooley, Alice W., 182n. 

Coolidge, Grace, 263n. 

Cooper, J. Fenimore, 26, 68, 69, 71. 

Corssen, Wilhelm, 58. 

Coulter, John Lee, 146n. 

Coxe, A. Cleveland, 51, 132, 254. 

Crane, Frank, 301. 

Crane, W. W., 291, 298. 

Critical Review, 38, 39n. 

Crumb, D. S., 215n. 

Daniels, Josephus, 119n. 
Dano-Norwegian language, 2, 5n, 155. 
Dardanelles Commission Report, 125n, 


Davis, Richard Harding, 230. 
Democratic Review, 253. 
Dennis, C. T., 319n. 
Deutsche Grammophon Gessellschaft, 

Dialect Notes, 7, 58n, 82n, 90n, 140, 

148, 151n, 154n, 155n, 158n, 161n, 

166n, I72n, 211n, 215n, 230n, 231n, 

274n, 279n. 

Dickens, Charles, 76, 133, 148. 
Dickinson, G. Lowes, 25n. 
Disraeli, Benj., 225. 
Dodge, Mary Mapes, 42n. 
Dreiser, Theodore, 80. 
Drinking terms, 85. 
Dryden, John, 91n. 
Dunlap, Fayette, 274n. 



Dutch loan-words, 43, 93. 
Dwight, Timothy, 68. 

Eastman, George, 166. 
Ecclesiastical terms, 112. 
Eclectic Review, 38, 39n. 
Edinburgh Review, 38, 55n, 67n, 68. 
Editor and Publisher and Journalist, 

108n, 266n. 
Egli, J. J., 286. 
Elliott, John, 249. 
Ellis, A. J., 167. 
Ellis, Havelock, 280n. 
Elwyn, Alfred L., 31. 
Ely, Richard T., 269n. 
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 71, 73. 
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 12. 
Etheredge, George, 219. 
Everett, Edward, 68, 71. 

Farmer, John S., 32, 34, 85, 86, 132, 

161, 304n. 

Faulkner, W. G., 14, 133. 
Faust, A. B., 269n, 274n, 275n. 
Financial terms, 106. 
Fishberg, Maurice, 280n. 
Fisher, Sydney George, 55n. 
Flaten, Nils, 155n. 
Fletcher, John, 219. 
FHigel, Felix, 18. 
Foreign Quarterly, 68, 76. 
Fortnightly Review, 133. 
Forum, 5 In. 
Fowler, H. W. and F. G., 12, 134, 136, 

143, 147, 224, 233, 242n. 
Fowler, Wm. C., 8, 30, 72, 74, 75, 77, 


Fox, Chas. James, 241. 
Francis, Alexander, 25n. 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1, 11, 37, 48, 50, 

54, 55n, 59, 60, 64, 248, 250, 301. 
French Academy, 4, 5n. 
French loan-words, 43, 44, 46n, 86, 

153, 239, 240. 
Friedenwald, Herbert, 266n. 

Garrick, David, 60. 

Geographic Board, 285n, 286, 292, 294, 
295, 297n. 

George III, 52. 

George, W. L., 139. 

Gerard, W. R., 42. 

German loan-words, 43, 44, 88, 151. 

Gifford, Wm., 36, 68, 69. 

Gilbert, W. S., 77n. 

Gladstone, W. E., 144. 

Gordon, Wm., 132. 

Gould, Edwin S., 51, 96, 123, 147, 

253, 255. 
Gower, John, 57. 
Grandgent, 11, 59, 174. 
Green, B. W., 282n. 
Greene, Robert, 219. 
Greenwood, Frederick, 233n. 
Gregory, Augusta, 320. 
Grimm, Jakob, 312. 
Griswold, Rufus W., 72. 

Hackett, Francis, 164n, 186. 
Hagedorn, Herman, 155n. 
Haldeman, S. S., 155n, 275n. 
Haliburton, T. C., 76. 
Hall, Basil, 7, 76. 
Hall, Fitzedward, 9, 28. 
Hall, Prescott F., 54, 87n. 
Halliwell-Phillips, J. O., 56. 
Hamilton, Alexander, 50, 63. 
Hamlin, C. W., 142n. 
Hancock, Elizabeth H., 61n. 
Harberton, Viscount, 264n. 
Harper's Magazine, 10, 17n. 
Harrison, Frederic, 133. 
Harrison, Henry, 275n. 
Hart, Horace, 256, 257. 
Harte, Bret, 26, 139, 303. 
Harvey, Thomas W., 181. 
Hastings, MacDonald, 176n. 
Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 26, 55. 
Hays, H. M., 155n. 
Head, Edmund, 144n. 
Healy, J. F., 20n, 310. 
Heckwelder, J. G. E., 42. 
Henley, W. E., 85, 86, 304n. 
Herrig, Ludwig, 18. 
Hildreth, Richard, 54n. 
Hills, E. J., 231. 
Hobson-Jobson, law of, 41, 43, 297n. 



Holmes, O. W., 26, 173, 305, 310. 

Hosic, J. F., 183. 

Howells, Wm. Dean, 3, 17, 80, 141, 


Hume, David, 226. 
Humphrey, S. K., 269n. 
Hutchinson, Thos., 52. 
Huxley, T. H., 119, 233. 
Hyde, Douglas, 320. 

Ibsen, Henrik, 177. 
Illinoiser Staats-Zeitung, 18. 
Indian loan-words, 40-42, 86. 
Indiana, University of, 71. 
Irish loan-words, 90-93, 227. 
Irish World, 266n. 

Irving, Washington, 68, 69, 71, 73, 84, 

Jackson, Andrew, 65. 

Jacobs, Joseph, 185. 

James, Henry, 61, 147, 171, 175. 

Jefferson, Thomas, 1, 2, 47, 49, 50, 63, 
64, 135, 248, 266, 303. 

Jeffrey, Francis, 55n. 

Jerome, J. K., 305, 310. 

Jespersen, J. O. H., 167. 

Jews, 94, 113, 151, 155-7, 280, 283. 

Johnson, Samuel, 247, 251. 

Johnson, Samuel, Jr., 249. 

Jones, Daniel, 167n. 

Journal of the American Medical As- 
sociation, 126n, 253, 265. 

Jowett, Benjamin, 144. 

Joyce, P. W., 91, 92, 112n, 144n, 198, 

Kalm, Pehr, 55n. 

Keijzer, M., 18. 

Kennedy, John P., 71. 

Ker, Edmund T., 287n. 

Kerrick, William, 9 In. 

Kipling, Rudyard, 168n, 267, 298. 

Kirby, Wm. F., 142n. 

Kleiser, Grenville, 5 In. 

Knapp, S. L., 69, 70. 

Knickerbocker Magazine, 48, 195n. 

Knight, Sarah K., 11 In. 

Koehler, F., 18. 

Koeppel, Emil, 18. 

Krapp, Geo. P., 169, 218, 264n, 304, 

Kuhns, L. Oscar, 275n. 

La Follette, R. M., 109n. 

Lancaster (Pa.) Journal, 85n. 

Lanenscheidt, F., 18. 

Lanigan, George T., 192. 

Lardner, Ring W., 34, 191-3, 203, 205, 

207n, 210, 211, 220, 223, 225, 227, 

229, 231, 305. 
Learned, M. D., 155n. 
Leland, Chas. G., 43, 94. 
L'Enfant, P.-E., 299. 
Lessing, O. E., 155. 
Lewis, Calvin L., 235n. 
Lewis, Wyndham, 263n. 
Lincoln, Abraham, 3. 
Literary Digest, 15n, 263. 
Lodge, Henry Cabot, 64, 69, 146n. 
London Court Journal, 16. 
London Daily Mail, 14. 
London Daily News, 28. 
London Review, 234. 
London Times, 5n, 136, 144. 
Long, Percy W., 161n. 
Longfellow, H. W., RI. 
Lossing, Benj., 26, 64. 
Lounsbury, T. S., 6, 9, 29, 33, 39, 40, 

59, 91n, 96, 145, 160n, 198n, 202, 

203, 206n, 217, 219, 220, 237n, 248n, 

254, 261n, 304, 319n. 
Low, Sidney, 13-14, 159. 
Lowell, A. Lawrence, 107n. 
Lowell, J. Russell, 26, 50, 57, 73, 255, 


Lyell, Chas., 49. 
Lynch, Charles, 77n. 

McClure's Magazine, 172n, 239n. 
McKenna, L. B., 280. 
Mackintosh, Duncan, 173n. 
McLaughlin, W. A., 279n. 
Mahoney, Chas., 85n. 
Maitland, James, 304n. 
Marcy, Wm. L., 71. 




Harden, Orison Swett, 301, 302. 
Mark Twain, 16, 26, 139, 263n, 303, 


Marlowe, Christopher, 219. 
Marryat, Capt., 11 In. 
Marsh, Geo. P., 8, 11, 144. 
Marshall, John, 21, 26, 38, 49, 169. 
Massachusetts Spy, 53. 
Mather, Increase, 46. 
Matthews, Brander, 6, 162, 178, 179, 

255, 259n, 265, 304, 306, 311. 
Mearns, Hugh, 172n, 239n. 
Meloney, W. B., 47n. 
Menner, Robert J., 11, 60, 96n, 168n, 


Metoula Sprachfiihrer, 18. 
Metropolitan Magazine, 165. 
Meyer, H. H. B., 102n. 
Miller, Edith, 188n. 
Milton, John, 48, 198, 224, 307. 
Modern Language Notes, 8. 
Modern Philology, 290n. 
Molee, Elias, 19. 
Montague, Harry, 85n. 
Montaigne, 26. 
Monthly Review, 38, 39n. 
More, Thomas, 226. 
Morfil, W. R., 73. 
Morris, Gouverneur, 47, 49. 
Morse, John T., 55n. 
Mulhall, M. G., 313. 
Murison, W., 28, 59n. 
Murray, James A. H., 256, 257. 
Musical terms, 113. 
Myers, Gustavus, 84n. 

Nashe, Thos., 48. 

Nation, 59n, 174n. 

National Council of Teachers of Eng- 
lish, 11. 

National Education Association, 262, 

Neal, John, 68. 

Negative, double, 146, 231-34. 

Negro loan-words, 44. 

New English Dictionary, 57, 89, 256. 

New International Encyclopaedia, 21, 
HOn, 122. 

New Orleans street-names, 300. 

New Republic, 164. 

New Witness, 15. 

Neic York Evening Mail, 164n. 

New York Evening Post, 28n, 127, 


New York Organ, 126n. 
New York Sun, 57n, 7 In, 124n, 133n, 


New York Times, 130. 
New York Tribune, 165, 254. 
New York World, 20. 
New York World Almanac, 122, 27 In, 


Nicholas I, 72n. 
Niles' Register, 84. 
Norris, Chas. G., 263n. 
North American Review, 20n, 39, 40n, 


Norton, C. L., 83. 
Notes and Queries, 88n. 
Noun, see Substantive. 
Noyes, Alfred, 175n. 

Oberndorf, C. P., 279n. 

O'Brien, Seumas, 263n. 

Oliphant, S. G., 273n, 276. 

Overman, Lee S., 142. 

Oxford Dictionary, 27, 28n, 43, 44, 

53n, 89n, 131, 133, 134, 135, 136, 

149, 256, 258, 267n. 

Pattee, F. L., 22n. 

Patterson, M. R., 312n. 

Paulding, J. K., 68, 74. 

Pedagogical Seminary, 304n. 

Penn, William, 41. 

Pennsylvania Dutch, 155. 

Pep, 128n. 

Phila. Public Ledger, 128. 

Philippines, American language in, 


Phillips, Wendell, 140. 
Philological Society of England, 261. 
Pickering, John, 8, 29, 39, 40, 48, 67, 

79, 132n, 298. 
Piers Plowman, 56. 
Pigeon English, 41, 317. 



Pinkney, Wm., 50. 

Poe, Edgar Allan, 26, 72, 125n, 184. 

Political terms, 83, 107. 

Pope Alexander, 9 In. 

Pory, John, 45. 

Pound, Louise, 151n, 154n, 166n, 

176n, 230n, 235. 
Prince, J. D., 155n. 
Printers' terms, 114. 
Prior, Matthew, 219. 
Pronoun, American, 212-225. 
Pronunciation, 34, 58-62, 91, 94-6, 


Psychoanalytic Review, 279n. 
Public Health Reports, 122n. 
Purvey, John, 198, 213. 

Quarterly Review, 36, 68. 
Quiller-Couch, Arthur, 24, 162n. 

Railroad terms, 82. 

Ramos y Duarte, Felix, 87n. 

Ramsay, David, 67. 

Read, Richard P., 245n. 

Read, Wm. A., 172n, 234. 

Reed, A. Z., 71n. 

Richardson, Samuel, 144, 225. 

Robertson, D. M., 5n. 

Robinson, Andrew, 47. 

Roosevelt, Theo., 47n, 165, 262, 306. 

Ruppenthal, J. C., 90n, 151. 

Ruskin, John, 225. 

Saintsbury, Geo., 301, 308. 
Saturday Evening Post, 147, 191n. 
Saturday Review, 137, 149n, 255. 
Sayce, A. H., 12, 23, 29, 82, 166, 167n, 

175, 198, 234, 261n, 320. 
Schele de Vere, M., 6n, 32, 34, 43, 94, 

136, 255, 256, 274, 291. 
Schoenrich, Otto, 158n. 
School Review, 176n. 
Schuette, O. F., 307. 
Scribner's Magazine, 15n. 
Searle, Wm. G., 269n. 
Sechrist, F. K., 304n. 
Seeley, J. R., 54n. 
Sewall, A., 53n. 

Shakespeare, William, 55, 56, 57, 143, 

198, 206, 215, 226, 233, 250, 307. 
Shaw, G. B., 130, 246n. 
Sheridan, Thomas, 59. 
Sherman, L. Y., 142, 146n. 
Sherman, W. T., 285, 303. 
Sherwin, Louis, 140. 
Sherwood, General, 142, 143n. 
Shonts, Theo. P., 137. 
Sidney, Philip, 224. 
Simplified Spelling Board, 262. 
Skeat, W. W., 21n. 
Slaughter, Gertrude, 308n. 
Smith, E. D., 142n. 
Smith, George J., 123n, 181. 
Smith, John, 40. 
Smith, L. P., 88n, 90, 143n, 147. 
Smith, Sydney, 67, 68. 
Snyder, Homer P., 116n, 142n. 
Southey, Robert, 48, 68. 
Spanish loan-words, 43, 44, 86. 
Spectator, 136, 137, 201n, 226. 
Spelling Reform Association, 261. 
Springfield Republican, 128n. 
Standard Dictionary, 53n, 88, 89n, 

151, 170, 260. 

Stedman, Edmund Clarence, 312. 
Stephens, Leslie, 233. 
Stephenson, J. C., 124n. 
Sterling, John, 68. 
Stevenson, R. L., 144, 233, 286. 
Stone, Gumshoe Bill, 119n. 
Substantive, American, 10, 14, 18, 23, 

30, 33, 40-44, 45-48, 52-54, 56, 73, 

80, 81-94, 97-114, 124-130, 131- 

143, 229. 

Sumner, W. G., 65n. 
Sunday, Billy, 119n. 
Sweet, Henry, 26n, 58, 144, 167, 186, 

201, 213n, 217, 219, 220, 221, 222, 

223, 232. 

Swift, Jonathan, 224. 
Symonda, S., 46. 
Synge, J. M., 320. 

Taft, W. H., 20. 
Tallichet, H., 148n. 
Tammany Hall, 42n, 84. 



Taylor, Bayard, 27, 71, 372. 

Taylor, E. B., 304n. 

Temple, William, 95. 

Thackeray, W. M., 84. 

Thoreau, H. D., 26. 

Thornton, Richard H., 6n, 14n, 33, 34, 
.44, 46n, 49, 51, 55, 62, 74, 78, 79, 
81n, 82, 84, 85, 87, 88, 89, 94, 129, 
148, 161, 177, 195n, 285n. 

Ticknor, Geo., 71. 

Tooke, J. H., 227. 

Toro y Gisbert, M. de, 6n. 

Town Topics, 89. 

Trollope, Mrs., 126. 

Trumbull, J. H., 132n. 

Tucker, Gilbert M., 20, 40, 137. 

Tupper, M. F., 301. 

Verb, American, 24, 27, 30, 33, 44, 48, 
49, 51, 56, 57, 76-80, 83, 93, 94, 

Vizetelly, F. H., 91n, 95, 96, 170. 

Walker, John, 59n, 96, 249. 

Walsh, Robert, 68. 

Ward, Artemus, 190. 

Wardlaw, Patterson, 181n. 

Ware, J. R., 77n, 82, 131, 136. 

Warnock, Elise L., 82n. 

Washington, George, 49, 63, 84. 

Webster, Daniel, 74. 

Webster, John, 219. 

Webster, Noah, 1, 2, 6, 7, 11, 36, 39, 

54, 59, 60, 62, 64, 70, 71, 76, 94, 

145, 236, 247-55, 256. 

Webster, W. F., 182n. 

Webster's Dictionary, 113n, 249, 260. 

Weeks, John W., 142n. 

Wells, H. G., 13. 

Wendell, Barrett, 67n. 

Wesley, John, 251. 

Westminster Gazette, 13. 

Westminster Review, 20n. 

Whewell, Win., 28. 

W T hite, Richard Grant, 4n, 6, 9, 27, 29, 
33, 49, 51, 90, 96, 113n, 123, 126n, 
137, 144n, 167, 168, 181, 261n, 297. 

Whitman, Walt, 73, 320. 

Whitney, Wm. D., 304, 308. 

Wicliff, John, 57, 213. 

Wilcox, W. H., 180, 183. 

Wilde, Oscar, 144. 

Williams, Alexander, 163n. 

Williams, R. 0., 70, 71, 149, 249n. 

Wilson, A. J., 106n. 

Wilson, Woodrow, 25, 26, 141, 1161. 

Winthrop, John, 46, 247. 

Witherspoon, John, 8, 37, 79, 160. 

Witman, Elizabeth, 161n. 

World' 8 Work, 315n. 

Worcester, Joseph E., 8, 95, 253, 254. 

Worcester's Dictionary, 113, 254, 261. 

Wordsworth, Wm., 68. 

Wright, Almroth, 119, 135. 

Yale Review, 148n, 178n. 
Yeats, W. B., 144. 
Yiddish, 155. 

Yiddish loan-words, 94, 151. 
Yule, Henry, 41. 

BINDING CSC7. AUG 3 f 1965 

Mencken, Henry Louis 
2808 Tne American Language