Date: Thu, 26 Feb 1998 20:37:10 EST
Subject: Gay nineties; United States of America; March hare


I was recently asked about the posting I made on "Gay Nineties" (written
after new year's of 1997). It should be in the ADS-L archives. At that time,
I stated that Richard Vincent Culter of LIFE magazine (the humor magazine, not
the picture news magazine) coined the phrase about 1925.
A recent checking of some other portions of my files turned up this
confirmation, from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Questions and Answers, 10 March

The "Gay Nineties."
Kindly let me know through your paper how and from what sources the
expression, "The Gay Nineties" originated, and also to what period of time it
"The Gay Nineties" was the title of a series appearing in one of the
humorous papers--Life, if we mistake not--and afterward put out in book form.
The pictures represented the dress, manners and customs of the period from
1890 to 1900.


My "America Papers" are indeed massive, and I haven't had time to look
through them all. I haven't had the time to recheck my Yankee Doodle parodies
and the humor magazines THE LANTERN and YANKEE NOTIONS for "canoodle"
antedate, either. Heck, I'm goin' to Guatemala next week and I haven't packed
a thong.
"Is the Name _United States_ Singular or Plural?" by Allen Walker Read is
in NAMES, vol. 22, no. 3, Sept. 1974, pp. 129-136. I have a ton of stuff on
this topic that the paper doesn't mention.
"THE NAME 'UNITED STATES OF AMERICA'" by Edmund C. Burnett was in the
AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW, Notes and Suggestions, vol. 31, no. 1, Oct. 1925,
pp. 79-81.


It's almost March. "March Madness" was posted a year ago. "Mad as a
March hare" is not in Christine Ammer's new book of idioms, and it's poorly
explained in Bartlett's, where John Skelton and John Heywood are both cited.
This item was also in my files from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Questions and
Answers, 24 March 1929:

"Mad as a March hare."
Will you kindly inform me how the expression, "Mad as a March hare,"
originated and where it is found?
A. L. H.
Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable says the saying grew out of the
fact that hares are usually shy and wild in March, which is their mating
season. Nuggets of Wisdom quotes the foregoing and adds: "This explanation
is discounted by a statement by Erasmus in 1542. After using the expression,
'Mad as a March hare,' Erasmus says, 'Hares are wilder in marshes from the
absence of hedges and cover.' This indicates that in the days of Erasmus the
saying was 'mad as a marsh hare.' It is not difficult to see that 'marsh'
might have been corrupted into 'March' after the original meaning of the word
was lost sight of." Our correspondent may have in mind the March hare of
"Alice in Wonderland."