Date: Mon, 16 Sep 1996 10:38:43 -0400

From: Jesse T Sheidlower jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PANIX.COM

Subject: Re: my grades are punk

I just read my grandmother's diary from c.1920 when she was at Cornell. She

wrote "My grades are punk." I asked my mother and father who were at Cornell

in the early 40s about it and they told me they thought everyone knew it

meant "very bad grades." I never heard it. Does anyone know how widespread

it was and when it died out?

The broad sense of _punk_ adj. 'bad; "lousy"' has not died out. Our

earliest evidence in HDAS is from 1896 (George Ade) and our most

recent is 1983, although I haven't checked the recent files. Most

of these examples are predicative. Only two refer to grades, but

I don't think it's a separate sense, just a specific application of

this 'bad' sense.

Jesse Sheidlower

Random House Reference