OED appeals: can you help us find earlier evidence of the word ‘legless’?
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 adjective legless is used as a slang term to describe someone who is extremely drunk, particularly someone who can no longer stand or walk. The earliest example we can find of this usage is from a 1975 song by Andy Fairweather-Low, ‘Wide Eyed and Legless’:
But the rhythm of the glass
Is stronger than the rhythm of night
Wide eyed and legless
I’ve gone and done it again
1975 Andy Fairweather-Low Wide Eyed and Legless (song)
We suspect that this is not the first instance of someone getting ‘legless’, and indeed the phrase ‘legless drunk’, with legless modifying drunk, can be traced back to the 1920s:
She poured liquor into the bums, beggars, ragtags, and bobtails that hung around the saloons till they were legless drunk.
1926 Jack Black You Can’t Win, p. 180
Can you help us by finding earlier examples of ‘legless’ or ‘legless drunk’?