Date: Thu, 28 Aug 1997 16:13:53 -0400

From: Jesse T Sheidlower jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PANIX.COM

Subject: Re: Rat=Freshman; Football Terms

Alan Baragona wrote:

At 09:09 AM 8/28/97 -0400, Jesse T Sheidlower wrote:

1863 in Stanard Letters 9: I felt quite lonesome, there being

only a few Rats left as a guard.

[in reference to VMI]

The earliest written use of "Rat" for "freshman" at VMI is in the 1896

yearbook, _The Bomb_, but it may have been in use for some 20 or 30 years

before that. According to William Couper's _One Hundred Years at V. M. I.

(1939), freshmen were called "plebes" into the early 1860's. Some time in

the 60's, the terminology changed, presumably to "Rat."

So VMI did not start it. :-(

Well, while VMI did not start it, the actual earliest written

use for a VMI freshman is that 1863 quote I posted above.

Jesse Sheidlower