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Geek and Rube

Posted by ESC on September 18, 2001

In Reply to: Circus terms posted by Ian McCloskey on September 18, 2001

: Trying to find the source of what I believe to circus terms. Geek and "Hey Rube"
: Any help would be appreciated.
: Thank you

GEEK "The carnival 'wild man,' usually an alcoholic, who bit off the heads of chickens; any person who has sunk to the lowest depths of degradation or who is odd and ridiculous. The word is a variation on the English word 'geck' for a fool, which dates back to the 16th century and was used by Shakespeare among other great writers." From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).

RUBE - "Rube (from 'Rustic Reuben'), 'hick' (a pet name for Richard) and 'hayseed' are 19th century Americanisms." From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997). A second source says, "In America we also called a country bumpkin a 'Rustic Reuben' around 1800, shortened it to 'Reuben' by the 1840s, and to 'Rube' by the 1880s." From "I Hear America Talking" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976).