Posted by ESC on September 24, 2002
In Reply to: "He's a real loser" posted by joel on September 23, 2002
: The term "loser" for someone who is getting nowhere in life seems natural enough now, but it was probably a novelty at some point -- a new version of the term "ne'er-do-well" or something. Does anyone know about how far back the use of a phrase like "he's a real loser" goes?
"Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, H-O" by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994: Loser - 2b. a person who is worthless, unappealing, chronically unsuccessful, etc. The first known written usage is 1955.
An earlier use was "a person who has been convicted of a crime -- orig. and esp. used with two-time, three-time, etc..."
I am guessing that the Peanuts character, lovable loser Charlie Brown, had a lot to do with popularizing "loser." The comic strip began in the 1950s.