You Don't Say John E. McIntyre writes about language, usage, journalism & arbitrarily chosen subjects.

The Baltimore Sun and the vernacular

The Baltimore Sun

Shortly after I posted a set of citations from The Baltimore Sun in the Oxford English Dictionary, I heard from Jonathon Green, compiler of the splendid Green’s Dictionary of Slang, who said that The Sun has also cropped up in his citations and kindly offered to furnish a few.

Staid as we often are on Calvert Street, we do resort to the demotic. Here is a selection.

1861 Baltimore Sun (MD) 23 Feb. 4/1: Every child in the city [...] would have said to the President, like the children in the story, ‘bring on your bears’.

Bring on your bears is a challenge to “do your worst.”

1864 Baltimore Sun (MD) 1 Oct. 1/7: ‘Pretty waiter girls’ are known in St Louis as ‘beer jerkers’. An effort is being made to suppress beer-jerking by city ordinance.

A beer jerker is a bartender. You’ll associate it, perhaps, with the later soda-jerker.

1881 Baltimore Sun (MD) 4 May 1/3: A Confidence Queen Indicted.— The Richmond [...] grand jury have indicted Bertha Hayman, the accomplished beauty, who has rendered herself so notorious in Canada and elsewhere.

A confidence queen is a “con woman.”

1899 Baltimore Sun (MD) 6 Oct. 1/3: ‘See her go past her like a shot off a shovel. Wow!’

1922 Baltimore Sun (MD) 15 Aug. 6/6: Brown, superintendant of Hagan’s one time force of ‘door shakers’ (the underworld parlance for special police).

1945 Baltimore Sun (MD) 5 Aug. 20/1: A close and argumentative play that found Manager Burleigh grimes being tin-canned out of the pastime.

To tin-can is to cheat.

1972 Baltimore Sun (MD) 20 Sept. 20/4: You’ll get up and shake a wicked leg. The dancing begins at 5 pm.

2014 Baltimore Sun (MD) 16 Apr. T26/2: It is finally and indisputably spring [...] There is nothing better than getting all spliffed out [...] and stepping out.

To be spliffed out is to be intoxicated by cannabis.

2015 Baltimore Sun (MD) 3 June T4/1: There should be city recognition of the Gayborhood.

I think no explication is required here.

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