Date: Wed, 7 Jan 1998 11:38:19 -0500

From: Gregory {Greg} Downing downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]IS2.NYU.EDU

Subject: Re: Beetle

At 08:56 AM 1/7/98 -0500, you (baragonasa[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] wrote:

A recent NYT article said that the Times was the first to describe the

Volkswagen as a "beetle." RHD doesn't list "Beetle" as a car, and I

don't have access to OED2 here at the moment. Could someone with access

to Lexis confirm whether "Beetle" as a name for the car predates the

Times reference? And if there isn't one in print, is there any

indication from the Times whether it was coining the term or reflecting

usage in speech at the time?

Alan B.

OED2 beetle n.2, meaning 2c has a 1960 _Motor_ cite using the phrase "the

familiar `beetle'" about the 1961 model of the vehicle. In car circles, it

was apparently already seen as a somewhat well-known phrase at that date,

but still needing (so to speak) "neologism quotation-marks." There is also a

1958 cite from _American Mercury_, and a still earlier cite that is in

brackets (from a 1946 issue of _Motor_) because the cite says "rather like a

beetle on stilts," indicating the author does not see "beetle" in this sense

as a common noun yet. OED also cites the German noun K"afer, but does not

say whether this is a parallel usage, or on the other hand the ancestor of

the English "beetle" usage.

Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] or downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]