Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 07:57:36 -0400


Subject: to streak

It's funny to feel that I'm history, but I don't mind sharing the

reply that I sent to Heather at Macalester.


Dear Heather,

I am writing in response to your posting on _Linguist_, asking

for help with the etymology of "to streak". The information that I have

comes from the following source:

Partridge, Eric. 1984. A dictionary of slang and unconventional English...

Paul Beale (ed.). London, Melbourne, and Henley: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

p. 1165.

streak, v. occ. streek... To go very fast: 1768, 'Helenore' Ross, '═She▀

forward did streak';..., in late C.19, coll. Prob ex flashes of lightening.

The form "to streak it" is U.S. --2. By specialization, 'To scurry stark

naked through a public place or assembly as a form of protest against

some grievance' (R.S. 1974), or 'trying to prove a point, or out of sheer

exhibitionism' (P.B.); whence "streaking", the vbl n., and "streaker" one

who does this: s. in 1973; both nn. and v. were, by 1975, coll. and, by

1976, S.E. It was a phenomenon of the early 1970s, with subsequent echoes.

R.S. = Ramsey Spencer

P.B. = Paul C. Beale, editor of the present dictionary


I doubt that the term was invented at Mac, since this entry says

it was slang in 1973, and I was studying at Mac then; that's about when

streaking caught on there big time. If you check old (early 1970s) issues

of the _Mac Weekly_, you'll find write-ups on various humorous episodes.

(I'm proud/embarassed to say that I was involved/written up).

Thanks for making me feel sooo old, Heather, and good luck with

your research!