Appendix:Words from Variety

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A number of words are credited with being popularized or coined by the New York entertainment magazine Variety from its founding in 1905 to the 1980s, particularly in the 1920s and 30s. These are listed below, followed by commentary.

List of words[edit]

Words credited to Variety include:[1]

Individual credits are given to:

  • Jack Conway – baloney, bellylaugh, bimbo, high-hat, palooka, payoff, pushover, s.a., and scram
  • Walter Winchell

among others.

Commentary[edit]

From its founding until the 1980s, Variety prided itself on its idiosyncratic and colorful use of language, notably popularization of showbiz terms, new coinages, unusual spellings and abbreviations, and changes in meaning (notably changing parts of speech: verbing nouns, such as “to ink” (to write)). Its usage was much-commented on at the time, most definitively by H. L. Mencken in The American Language.

Quotes[edit]

“I thought I knew the English language, until one day I saw Variety in a friend’s home. Upon my soul, I didn’t understand a word of it. I subscribed at once.”

George Bernard Shaw, to Bennett Cerf, 1938[1]

“Since its founding in 1905, so many terms coined or made popular in the pages of Variety have been incorporated into the native American vocab that most people are unaware of their origins. The unofficial rule went: whenever a Variety reporter didn’t know how to spell a word, he invented a new one.”[1]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 “Boffo Goes International”, by Paul Lenti, in The State of the language, Christopher B. Ricks, Leonard Michaels, p. 394–399