End of ADS-L Digest - 4 May 1998 to 5 May 1998
There are 8 messages totalling 498 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Scumbag; Spongeworthy; Banana Oil (2)
2. ADS-L Archive Search
3. Latest news from ACLS
4. Law/Principle of Least Effort
5. Calls for Papers
6. Among the New Words (2)


Date: Wed, 20 May 1998 00:39:53 EDT
From: Bapopik
Subject: Scumbag; Spongeworthy; Banana Oil


The best place to look for "scumbag" is on the bathroom wall.
Fortunately, a past president of the American Dialect Society has already
Unfortunately, I didn't buy Allen Walker Read's CLASSIC AMERICAN
GRAFFITI (originally published in 1935 but reprinted by Maledicta Press) and
NYU's copy is stolen (perhaps the NYPL's also). People on this list have it,
Is there a "scumbag" in there? Also, did he check women's bathrooms?
It's interesting to see if this word comes from male or female speakers,
and if it's applied to males or females. The male/female bathroom separation
makes epithet analysis easier.
I'd also look for "douchebag," and "sleazebag" and "slimebag" (some
speakers drop the "ball").


The RHHDAS doesn't have "Master of Your Domain." I wouldn't leave out
SEINFELD's "spongeworthy," but I might add it to WAYNE'S WORLD's "We are not


The RHHDAS has this from 1924. I was checking Maurice Horn's 100 YEARS
OF AMERICAN NEWSPAPER COMICS for "Abie the Agent," and "Banana Oil" is on page
46, col. 1.
The "Banana Oil" comic strip by Milt Gross ran in the NEW YORK WORLD from
December 1921 until the end of the WORLD in 1930. In each strip, someone
would declare "Banana oil!" in the last panel. Horn writes:

In 1926 it evolved into the top strip of the author's new Sunday color
feature, _Nize Baby_, distributed by the _World_'s Press Publishing Company.
(...) The expression was adopted throughout the 1920s as a catchphrase
signifying amused disbelief at a really egregious piece of cant, much as the
later and still-used "baloney" that replaced it.