[lit-ideas] Re: Rubbernecking

  • From: "Mike Geary" <atlas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 15:49:38 -0500

>>I might add that my father is also "british" and I've never heard anyone 
>>native of Canada (other than anglophile media people) say "rubbernecking" 
>>unless they, like me, had British parents.<<

"Rubberneck", "rubbernecker" and "rubbernecking" are commonly heard in the 
South even in news broadcasts.  I assumed they were universal English 

If you'll indulge me in my homage to JL, you might find this interesting from 
the Online Etymology Dictionary -- or not:

rub (v.)  
1377, perhaps related to E.Fris. rubben "to scratch, rub," and Low Ger. 
rubbeling "rough, uneven," or similar words in Scandinavian (cf. Dan. rubbe "to 
rub, scrub," Norw. rubba), of uncertain origin. Hamlet's there's the rub (1602) 
preserves a noun sense of "obstacle, inequality on ground" first recorded 1586 
and common in 17c. To rub (someone) the wrong way is from 1883. To rub noses in 
greeting as a sign of friendship (attested from 1822) formerly was common among 
Eskimos, Maoris, and some other Pacific Islanders. Rub out "obliterate" is from 
1567; underworld slang sense of "kill" is recorded from 1848, Amer.Eng. Rub off 
"have an influence on" is recorded from 1959. 

"thing that rubs," 1536, from rub (v.). The meaning "elastic substance from 
tropical plants" (short for India rubber) first recorded 1788, introduced to 
Europe 1744 by Charles Marie de la Condamine, so called because it was 
originally used as an eraser. 
  "Very useful for erasing the strokes of black lead pencils, and is popularly 
called rubber, and lead-eater." [entry for Caoutchouc in, Howard, "New Royal 
Encyclopedia," 1788]
Meaning "overshoes made of rubber" is 1842, Amer.Eng.; slang sense of "condom" 
is from 1930s. Sense of "deciding match" in a game or contest is 1599, of 
unknown origin, and perhaps an entirely separate word. Rubberneck (v.) is 
attested from 1896. Rubber stamp is from 1881; fig. sense of "institution whose 
power is formal but not real" is from 1919; the v. in this sense is from 1934. 
Rubber cement is attested from 1895. Rubber check is from 1927. 

Alas, no mention of rubbernecking.

Mike Geary

----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Paul Stone 
  To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
  Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2007 1:57 PM
  Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Rubbernecking

    I think we may here be seeing English changing.  I would guess that
    British people, my father included, thought "rubbernecking" an 
    interesting term and extended the meaning.


  I might add that my father is also "british" and I've never heard anyone 
native of Canada (other than anglophile media people) say "rubbernecking" 
unless they, like me, had British parents. 


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