Tuesday, February 21, 2012

All tricked out

I had figured that "tricked out" was a more modern way of saying "decked out" or "gussied up." And I was wrong.

I'm reading L. R. Palmer's The Latin Language, and on one page he used "tricked out" to describe something. He was using it the way that the Urban Dicitonary uses it. Like them, I had figured it was relatively modern and referred to something you'd do to a car. So I was taken back when Palmer said
…the "modern" style of Seneca…tricked out with archaisms and poeticisms.
Palmer wrote this in a book published in 1954. He was an Oxford professor. Hardly the sort to be using modern slang. Well, I dug into the trusty ol' Ngram, and what do I find? That's right, "tricked out" has a long history in English.
…the Town-hall, wich was tricked out in the most theatrical manner…
Care to guess when? 1769. Yeah, I'm surprised too. (There are earlier, but this example makes me happy.)