Date: Fri, 19 Dec 1997 02:20:16 EST


Subject: Fizzling Out

1997 is fizzling out. You can almost stick a fork in it.

AMERICA IN SO MANY WORDS has "peter out" as the word-of-the-year for

1854. RHHDAS copies the DA and has 1846 and 1847 for "fizzle" and 1861 for


This is from the New-York American, 13 June 1844, pg. 2, col. 2:

"FIZZLING OUT."--We have frequently met with these words, but never saw

their meaning so satisfactorily explained as they were by Mr. Schenck, of

Ohio, at the recent Whig meeting at Baltimore. In referring to the Loco

National Convention, he said they had been in session three days, and fizzled

and fizzled until they had completely fizzled out.

To give an idea of what was meant by the term fizzled in his country, he

would tell the anecdote whence it received its origin. There was a blacksmith

in Ohio who had a reputation of being a good sort of a fellow, and a cheap

workman. A neighbor of his had a piece of iron, which he desired wrought up

into some tangible, useful shape, and he asked the blacksmith what could be

made of it. The smith replied he was of opinion that it would make a plough-

share, and went to work so to transform it. In this, however, he failed, but

came to the conclusion that it would make an axe,--he accordingly tried to

make that kind of instrument, but was in like manner unsuccessful. I am of

the opinion, said the smith, failing the first two attempts, that it will make

a pick-axe, and he tried so to form it, but again failed. Then, said he,

there can be no mistake in its making a simple wedge,--he went to work to make

that, but the attempt also failed. The owner of the iron by this time grew

impatient, and in rather an agitated manner, whilst the iron was still hot,

eagerly inquired of the smith, "Then what the d---l will it make?"--"Why,

sir," was the reply--at the same time plunging the hot iron into the slack-

tub--"you see it will make a _fiz_."

Such was the case with the late harmonious Locofoco Convention. Material

had been given them out of which to nominate candidates for President and Vice

President. They tried to work it up in almost every shape, but finally, after

repeated failures, plunged it into their peculiar political slack-tub, and

made only a glorious fiz.