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Re: Bulldozer

Posted by Smokey Stover on May 01, 2004

In Reply to: Re: Bulldozer posted by ESC on May 01, 2004

: : : : : "A heavy, driver-operated machine for clearing and grading land, usually having continuous treads and a broad hydraulic blade in front. 2. An overbearing person; a bully"

: : : : : OK...but does anyone know the history of this word?
: : : : : Is/was this a brand name?
: : : : : German? Slavic? Norse?
: : : : : Doze is to sleep/nap.
: : : : : Anybody?

: : : : Here's one theory:

: : : : BULLDOZE - verb. 1876. "American English, to intimidate by violence; of uncertain origin. The word 'bulldozer,' meaning one who intimidates by violence, appeared also in 1876, a machine for clearing or leveling in 1930. The etymology usually suggested is a compound of 'bull' (the animal) and an altered form of 'dose,' i.e., a whipping to coerce voters was a dose suitable for a bull. The reference is a supposed practice during the Tilden campaign, especially among Blacks in the South." From "The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology" by Robert K. Barnhart (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1995).

: : : The Seabees, who appeared "in 1942 as members of special construction battalions to handle Navy construction in combat zones." Seabees is a play on CB, Construction Battalion. They made the words "'air strip' and 'bulldozer' well known. "They constructed air strips (runways, simple landing fields) on many Pacific islands and used bulldozers to do the job quickly. 'Bulldozer' had meant a Caterpillar tractor with a scraper or blade for clearing or leveling land since 1930, but most Americans never heard the word until the Seabees made the bulldozer a somewhat glamorous wartime item ('to bulldoze' had meant to intimidate since 1876, first being recorded in New Orleans to refer to Whites who 'bulldozed' Blacks to keep them from voting)." From "I Hear America Talking" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976).

: : I can't find my copy of The Grapes of Wrath at the moment, and an on-line search makes me think they called it simply a "cat", for Caterpillar tractor. Both the novel and the movie pre-date U.S. entry into WWII.

: I have a copy somewhere in this house. Online summaries talk about a bulldozer and a "cat."

Absolutely. Cat was a widely used term for a Caterpillar tractor. If it had the blade and was large it might be called a bulldozer, but many farmers used smallish Caterpillar tractors to get through rough or muddy land, and often called them cats. It seems to me that the monster James Bond's girl friend (and others)feared in "Dr. No" was a large Caterpillar tractor which was referred to as a "cat." SS