Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 07:57:36 -0400
From: Margaret Ronkin ronkinm[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]GUSUN.GEORGETOWN.EDU
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.
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.
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