Date: Mon, 30 Jun 1997 20:11:55 -0400

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

Subject: Re: Agita

At 07:41 PM 6/30/97 -0400, you wrote:

For a newspaper column, I am trying to trace the word "agita" in English.

It is absent from most dictionaries, both standard and slang, and Anne

Soukhanov, in her "Word Watch," notes 1982 as an "early" citation, which

seems awfully late to me. Does anyone have anything earlier, or a sense of

how the Italian "agitato" became "agita"?


Evan Morris


I don't have a dictionary to hand on this, and could well be wrong, but

whatever its spelling my sense is that the word (usually encountered in

speech not writing??) is actually Italian "acido" (acid in the stomach,

worry, annoyance, anxiety), as originally pronounced by English speakers of

Italian background. It was in general use when I arrived here in NYCity in

1979, and may well go back to the early 20C among Italian speakers, though I

don't know how long it's been out there in the larger culture. That it is

generally known here is perhaps supported by the fact that the two or three

times I have used the word in class (as early as 1987) it has never failed

to raised at least a bit of a laugh. I have also heard radio talk-show hosts

use it since around the mid80s, though I was not paying attention to that

medium before then.

Greg Downing/NYU

greg.downing[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]