OED appeals: can you help us find earlier evidence of the word ‘mullet’?
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.
The OED defines mullet as ‘A hairstyle, worn esp. by men, in which the hair is cut short at the front and sides, and left long at the back.’ It was certainly popularized, if not coined, by the hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, whose song ‘Mullet Head’ is the first known use of the term:
You wanna know what’s a mullet? Well I got a little story to tell About a hair style, that’s way of life.
1994 Beastie Boys Mullet Head (song)
It is often claimed that the term derives from mullet-head, a colloquial reference to a stupid person. But a 1995 article in Grand Royal, a magazine published by the Beastie Boys, proposes several other, largely humorous origins, including a relationship with the mullet fish.
Can you help find an earlier example of mullet? Or any proof that it truly was coined by the Beasties?
Listen to a podcast about investigating the origin of mullet on the OUP blog.