Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wednesday's Random Slang-o-rama: I'll give you Jim Smith

Now here's an interesting bit of long-ago slang that I unearthed from an early 20th century dictionary:

I'll give you Jim Smith.

What do you guess this means??

Go on. Guess!
Time's up!

Here's the definition, straight from Passing English of the Victorian Era: A Dictionary of Heterodox English, Slang, and Phrase by J. Redding Ware, published 1909:

I'll give you Jim Smith (Street, 1887). Thrashing. Sudden adoption of the name of a prize fighter to designate fighting.

I tried to find any reference to a 19th century boxer or prizefighter named Jim Smith, but had no luck. Poor J.S. apparently faded into obscurity along with the phrase that arose from his fighting prowess.

One manly fellow giving another Jim Smith, for certain. Ouch!  
From Athletics and Manly Sport by John Boyle O'Reilly (1890)


liz said...

Try James Smith ko'd Thomas Daniel 8\30\1791 in Annapolis Maryland. Killed in fight 4\4\1820 in Brighton England. Or Encyclopedia Americana for English heavyweight,1885, then World 1887.

Ann Parker said...

Wow! Thank you, Liz!
If you would like a special little Leadville something as a token of my appreciation, email me through the CONTACT link on my website.

I found this tidbit on the "BoxRec" site:
Bare-knuckle boxer Thomas Daniel died of injuries sustained during a bout 30 August 1791 with James Smith in Annapolis, Maryland, USA. --Source: Death under the Spotlight: The Manuel Velasquez Boxing Fatality Collection (see for the tidbit.)
I guess giving someone Jim Smith could have serious consequences!
- Ann

Liz said...

No resident four year old to fix my email. Your books have afforded me much enjoyment and retirement the time to research for the sheer fun of satisfying curiosity. Your reply, however, makes me wonder about my note taking. Did I conflate events? Will check out your link.

Ann Parker said...

Hi again, Liz. :-)
I'm glad you have enjoyed (and hopefully will continue to enjoy!) the Silver Rush series.
I think your notes are correct, and there must have been two boxers from different generations named "James Smith." Besides the link that talks about the earlier James Smith, there is the Encyclopedia Americana bit you mentioned, which refers to the 1885 English heavyweight champion James Smith. I saw the entry, but can't track it down now... However, I know it's there!
I'm thinking since this is an early 20th century term, it probably refers to the later Jim Smith... but that's just a guess!