Idiot box

Posted by R. Berg on February 26, 2008 at 18:04:

In Reply to: Idiot box posted by ESC on February 26, 2008 at 17:07:

: : In Robert Heinlein's 'Stranger in a Strange Land' I found 'idiot box' as a reference to television. Lovely term and certainly it fits most American television. Does anyone know if this is original to Heinlein? If it is not I'd love to know more about the origin.

: One reference dates "idiot box" back to around 1955. Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 2, H-O, by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1997." This references Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition. The book was published in 1962, according to what I could find.

"Idiot box" was a common term in the 1960s and '70s. The advent of flat-screen TVs now makes "idiot rectangle" more apropos, although I haven't heard anyone say it. ~rb (U.S.)