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Posted by Masakim on May 17, 2003

In Reply to: Corn-fed posted by ESC on May 16, 2003

: : : How on earth did the term 'corny' come about? Why would such a word be used to describe something like a joke or saying? And where did it originate? I'm assuming the U.S., only because of the reference to corn, which is obviously a sweeping guess.

: : I believe it comes from rural America (The Corn Belt). Jokes that were so obvious and heavy-handed were considered the kind of jokes the "hicks" would understand.

: CORNY - "originally a contraction of 'corn-fed,' was first used by actors and vaudevillians to describe audiences in 'the sticks.'.Since these 'corn-fed' audiences relished a broad and unsubtle brand of humor, it became known as 'corn-fed humor' - a phrase which now is simply 'corny joke.'" From "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).

corny adj. Sentimental; banal; obvious; old-fashioned or out-of-date; unsophisticated. 1935: "Corny -- Derived from cornfed, meaning [music] played in country style, out of date, hill-billy, or in a style of pre-1925." _Peabody Bulletin_, Dec., 42/2. ...
From _Dictionary of American Slang_ by Wentworth & Flexner
This peculiar style of melody, the appeal of which lies in the fact that it is purposely so utterly corn-fed. (_Melody Maker_, March 1929)

The "bounce" of the brass section has degenerated into a definitely "corny" and staccato style of playing. (_Melody Maker_, June 1932)

_Cornfed_ or _corny_ is the jazz musician's term for what is old-fashioned. (_Fortune_, August 1932)

_Corn_, old-fashioned style; out-of-date idiom and technique in jazz. Hence _corny_ or _cornfed_ applied to musicians and their style. (_Radio Times_, April 2, 1937)

She began to play a melody which had been popular in the early post-war days. "Corny old stuff," said Mercer. (M. Allingham, _Dancers in Mourning_, 1937)