Studies in Slang, VII.

Searching for something else, I happened on the complete online text (pdf) of Barry A. Popik and Gerald Leonard Cohen, Studies in Slang, VII (2006). Anyone interested in slang will want to check it out; a few article titles picked at random:

POPIK: Tin Pan Alley origin is explained in a 1903 newspaper article

COHEN: To need hair of the dog that bit you ‘need a bit more booze to get over a hangover

COHEN: Lose one’s marbles–Jonathan Lighter’s 1902 attestation refutes my suggestion of a 1920s Missouri origin of the expression

POPIK: Cakewalk–1897 New-Orleans Times-Democrat article explains it was originally a marriage ceremony among French blacks in Louisiana

POPIK: Slang applesauce (spoken dismissively) derives from a once popular but corny joke, possibly in a minstrel context

The joke involves a teacher with twelve pupils and only eleven apples, and “corny” is a good word for it.


  1. Thanks for the bit about the ‘cakewalk’, incidentally not at all an easy dance.
    I hope someone explains the etymology of ofay some day. Jonathon Green examines the common explanations, and rejects them all, leaving the etymology unknown.

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