OED appeals: can you help us find earlier evidence of the word ‘numpty’?
Can you help us? OED Appeals is a dedicated community space on the OED website where OED editors solicit help in unearthing new information about the history and usage of English.
Part of the process of revising words and phrases for the OED involves searching for evidence of a word’s first recorded use in English, and for this we need your help.
Can you find earlier examples of usage of the following word? Visit the OED Appeals page to find out more, and to submit any antedating evidence.
Since the mid-1980s, numpty has been used as a mild term of abuse in Britain. The earliest evidence found by OED researchers is from a 1988 book by Michael Munro, chronicling Glaswegian colloquialisms:
1988 Michael Munro The Patter: Another Blast 50 How is it I get all the numpties in my class?
Were Glaswegians really the first to call people numpties, or did the term exist earlier in other parts of the UK?
The adjective, meaning ‘foolish or idiotic’, appears to have been used first a few years later than the noun, on the TV show Rab C. Nesbitt. Can you help to find evidence for ‘numpty’ before 1988?