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Trailer Trash - term origin?

Posted by ESC on September 03, 2002

In Reply to: Trailer Trash - term origin? posted by Bruce Kahl on September 03, 2002

: : : : : : I have been looking, without much luck, for the origin of the term "trailer trash". I am guessing it is relatively new and may even be linked with the development of the "manufactured home" market in the 80's and 90's. It's not listed in the 1981 edition of the American Heritage Dictionary.

: : : : : : It seems to be a catchier equivalent to "white trash", the derogatory term used to describe poor whites in the American south. So far the Internet has yielded nothing.

: : : : : I'll look in my references this evening. I've just heard it in recent years. It probably goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway. This is a really hateful term.

: : : : I don't know if I'd go that far. I'd like to reserve the category of Hate to those bigotries that are turly poisonous and tend towards injustice and, eventually, violence. "Trailer trash" seems to more like cultural intolerance and parochialism, snobbery, and disdain. It's got a bit of a nasty edge, but I don't think it rises to the level of hate. (Then again, maybe it's my
: : : : skewed values. I don't believe cultural intolerance is as irrational or potentially violent as racial or religious intolerance.)

: : : I stand by my statement and am ready to rumble. What I am talking about specifically is the impact on children who live in trailers. Hearing a term like "trailer trash" does damage that lasts forever.

: : I must agree. Bigotry based on socioeconomic factors is still bigotry. Disguise it as as a dainty distate for Group X's perceived lack of culture and couth if you wish, but the stench will give it away.

: Main Entry: 2stereotype
: Function: noun
: Etymology: French stéréotype, from stéré- stere- + type
: Date: 1817
: 1 : a plate cast from a printing surface
: 2 : something conforming to a fixed or general pattern; especially : a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment

No origin but an early use.

TRAILER TRASH -- "n. people who live permanently in caravans or mobile homes and are regarded as being common, antisocial, unsightly, feckless, or otherwise beyond the pale of civilization. Mainly US; based on the American 'trailer' 'mobile home.' 1993 Lowe & Shaw: Getting the permission's the hard bit, getting past all the narrowminded people who don't want trailer trash down the road." From 20th Century Words: The Story of New Words in English Over the Last 100 Years by John Ayto (Oxford University Press, New York, 1999).

(You can tell that Mr. Ayto is British.) I wouldn't say "antisocial." Some are very social.

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