by John Holbo on March 10, 2015

I haven’t been posting, so I figure I should show my work – that is, establish that I’ve been toiling on some sort of important intellectual project behind the scenes.

So here’s the thing. I always figured Jack Kirby just made up ‘weirdies’ – like he invented most things that matter to us today:


But then I checked the OED and, in fact, it’s been around for a while.

“An odd or unconventional person; one who is considered ‘weird’; spec. applied to any young man with long hair and a beard. Freq. in pl.”

It seems to have been a minor synonym for ‘beatnik-type’ but not for ‘hippy’ because it came and went too soon. The OED has one instance from 1949, from The Asphalt Jungle: “Cobby … thought to himself: ‘He’s a weirdy, all right.’” Then one from each year from ’59 – ’62:

1959 Listener 3 Dec. 975/1 The weirdies that Kerouac seems always to meet wandering and muttering in the small hours.

1960 Spectator 22 Apr. 569 There were more than forty thousand of us—weirdies and beardies, colonels and conchies, Communists and Liberals.

1961 Observer 28 May 1/5 The beardy weirdies with their querulous bleatings.

1962 Punch 14 Feb. 268/2 One [bedsitter]..advertiser..added ‘No Weirdies either’.

‘conchies’? (A-ha, I didn’t know that one.)

Then it fades. One entry from 1966, one for 1974, then nothing. Funny that Jack Kirby is using it 1972. Dude was one out-of-step genius.

But I forgot the best part. The first occurrence is in:

Andrew Smith Robertson, The Provost o’ Glendookie (1894): “‘He’s awa without his curran’ loaf.’ ‘He’s a weerdie.’”

Yes, Virginia, there is a Provost o’ Glendookie.

I think that’s the issue of Jimmy Olsen where the Newsboy Legion go to Scotland.

Anyway, Big Words would be proud of me, lookin’ it up in the OED an’ all.



Sandwichman 03.10.15 at 6:57 am


John Holbo 03.10.15 at 7:11 am


jake the antisoshul soshulist 03.10.15 at 1:41 pm

Is there much overlap with the more durable “weirdo”?


Marshall 03.10.15 at 2:28 pm

Sorry, completely O/T, but two things for Holbo:

1. I feel like I read something you or another CTer posted to the effect that pointing out an interlocutor’s hypocrisy is a valid and legitimate line of argumentation in debate, and

2. David Brooks:


Sandwichman 03.10.15 at 3:54 pm

That’s not completely O/T, Marshall. David Brooks is a weirdie/weirdo.


bill benzon 03.13.15 at 11:49 am

On the phrase, “in a weird way”:

H/t 3QD.


John Holbo 03.15.15 at 4:53 am

Thanks for that link, Bill. That’s interesting.

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