Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Uptight about Dictionaries?

After a long silence, here's some stuff. The following was sent to an email list I get: I think it's quite interesting. It's also v relevant for the stuff we were discussing in Language Change last week:

I was surprised at the earliness of the first cited use of 'uptight' inthe US; I'd assumed it was a word of the seventies...Though many of thecitations do come from that 'groovy' period. Also interesting that,like 'wicked', it can be used as a term of approbation or theopposite...

uptight, a. SECOND EDITION 1989

colloq. and slang (orig. U.S.). [UP- 3.]

1. a. Of a person: in a state of nervous tension or anxiety;inhibited, worried, 'on edge'; angry, 'worked up' (about something). Quot. 1934 is an isolated early example.

1934 J. M. CAIN Postman always rings Twice xvi. 190 I'm getting up tightnow, and I've been thinking about Cora. Do you think she knows I didn'tdo it? 1966 Sunday Times (Colour Suppl.) 13 Feb. 35/4 Up tight, tense.1968 Mad LXXVII. 30 'Uptight' means, like, a bad scene. It's when you'rehung up, or wigged out, or you can't make it. We all get 'uptight' oncein a while. 1969 C. YOUNG Todd Dossier 38 He looked worried. Reallyworried. As the kids say, he was up-tight. 1973 E. CALDWELL Annette(1974) VI. ii. 137 I'd guess you'd gotten so uptight from being deniedmotherhood that you were ready to leave home. 1975 D. LODGE ChangingPlaces ii. 83 You're feeling all cold and uptight and wishing you hadn'tcome. 1977 M. EDELMAN Political Lang. v. 90 To the uptight policemaneveryone is a potential offender. 1981 P. P. READ Villa Golitsyn II. iv.112, I was afraid you might be a little uptight about that sort ofthing.

b. fig. Characteristically formal in manner or style; correct,strait-laced.

1969 Manch. Guardian Weekly 28 Aug. 18 Who would have thought that anuptight institution like the august Oxford University Press would havedone a thing like this? Here is a..spirited and spiritous piece ofautobiography..served up as a book. 1970 E. M. BRECHER Sex Researchersix. 253 They tended to swing in the same socially corrrect, formal,'up-tight' style they followed in their other activities. 1976Chatelaine (Montreal) Jan. 73/3 In the morning, the apartment lookedcuriously uptight to Meredith.

2. In approbation: that reaches the desired standard; excellent,fine.

1962 Down Beat Aug. 20/2 Jazz Gene Ammons Up Tight! 1966 [seeOUT-OF-SIGHT adj. phr. (n.) 2]. 1969 Courier-Mail (Brisbane) 31 May 11/7Disc jockeys..talk in a kind of sub-English..as in 'All right babysock-it-to-me it's allright uptight yeah.'

3. Short or out of money; 'broke'.

1967 Time 6 Jan. 18/3 'Up tight' can mean anxious, emotionally involvedor broke. 1968 Esquire Apr. 160/3 The expression 'uptight', which meantbeing in financial straits, appeared on the soul scene in the generalvicinity of 1953. Hence uptightness. 1969 FABIAN & BYRNE Groupie vi. 46 The paranoia and savage uptightnesswhich comes from three such guys living on top of each other andattempting to lead very together type lives while being stoned most ofthe time. 1974 A. LASKI Night Music 95 It hadn't made him anylooser..that rigid uptightness was still in him. 1976 New Yorker 8 Mar.57/3 In [The Entertainer]..Archie contrasted the uptightness of theBritish who don't make 'a fuss' with a fat black woman he once heard inAmerica who sang 'her heart out to the whole world'.

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