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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » All tied up! » » Escapologist where die this word originate (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Banachek
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I found a very interesting article in an old Linking Ring by John Booth that talks about the term 'Escapologist.

Considered originally a word used in "British Circles", Escapologist was defined in the 1981 Webster Third International Dictionary as:

"One who attempts to avoid reality or serious matters by frivolous self indulgency and merrymaking - not used technically."

The Oxford dictionary stated that the "new" word first appeared in the Glasgow Herald referencing an Australian showman on October, 6, 1926 in a private demonstration at the London Coliseum. The escape artist being Murray Walters. He was born in Melbourne better known as Murray the Escapologist. Murray claimed he coined the word in 1927.

During his research, John Booth examined this claim in detail, found an article that spoke of Houdini in the Feb 18, 1910 'The Argus' where Houdini used the term to describe himself. Seems Murray was born in 1901, Houdini use the term in 1910. Murray did not start performing till the year 1919

Booth goes on to state that there might be evidence of a a worker who used it in playbills as far back as the 1880's or 90's but had no proof at the time of his article.

Now what is interesting is a friend of mine looked up that Argus and could not find the term Escapologist in any Argus even that date. So are we back to Murray and why did he insist on being known as the guy the term was originally coined for?

Any help would be appreciated, please email me directly if you have any answers as well as posting here. Thanks
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Roslyn
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There's an article ( http://ezinearticles.com/?How-Did-He-Do-......=2757396 ) that says:

"Born Ehrich Weiss in 1874 he went on to be come one of the most daring escapologists of modern times. Not that the word escapologist was invented until after Houdini's death in 1926."

I also found this ( http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?l=e&p=10 ) that says the word escape is c.1300 and comes from the Old North French escaper, from Old French eschaper and from Vulgar Latin excappare. The literal translation is "get out of one's cape, leave a pursuer with just one's cape,".

From the Latin ex- meaning "out of" + Late Latin cappa meaning "mantle."

Escapee first attested 1875. Escapist in the fig. sense is from 1930; escapism is from 1933. Escape clausein, the legal sense, was first recorded in 1945.

There's no mention of the word escapologist, but it seems that both the words escapist and escapologist (assuming Murry is to be believed) were created around the same time.

One word could quite easily have been the by-product of the other. Could the Australian accent have turned escapist in to escapologist? Or at least been miss-heard that way by reporters when Murry performed out of his native Australia? So in essence the creation of the word escapologist is in fact a mistake.

Just my thoughts on a very interesting topic.
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Moxahalla
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Steve:

The article - where Houdini mentions the word "escapologist" has been published...I'll look for it tonight.
Moxahalla
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Steve:

From a John Booth book (possibly "Conjuror's Discoveries"? - I only have a xerox of the chapter): Chapter 8 titled: "Who Created The Word 'Escapologist'?"

Shown within, is a copy of an article from "THE ARGUS", Melbourne, Australia, Feb. 18, 1910. The opening paragraph of the article begins as:

"If I might be allowed to coin a word, I would call myself
an escapologist", said Houdini, the handcuff king, who
arrived in Melbourne yesterday, to appear at the Opera-
House to night."

....Proof that HOUDINI coined the word "Escapologist" , not Murray, then only 8 years old.
________________________________________________________________________________

And to those who refer to themselves as such, please pronounce the word correctly (personal pet-peeve Smile:

"Es-ca-pol-o-gist"....NOT "Escape-ologist".



---Moxahalla
Roslyn
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Wow. This is really quite an interesting topic.

Weird that escapologist was coined by HH before the word escapist appeared. Who'd have thought!
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houdinisghost
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I know this is much later than what we are discussing, but, a Providence R. I. newspaper dated Weds. Mar 7, 1917 is headlined: "Greatest Throng Ever Marvels As Houdini Performs an Extra Hazardous Feat." A sub headline reads: "Just four minutes taken by the Escapologist to free himself."
you know, John Booth wrote in one of his Linking Ring columns that he had a copy of the Argus clipping BUT HE GOT THE DATE WRONG IN HIS BOOK! The actual date of the article--and I've seen it--is February 8, 1910. Houdini does actually say (approximately): I am--if I may coin a word--an ESCAPOLOGIST. That's Feb 8, 1910.
Moxahalla
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Patrick:

I humbly bow to your knowledge - that the correct date is "Feb. 8", 1910.

So, Mr. Booth has the "Feb. 18" error in his book too, along with his Linking Ring article.

That being said, magicians & magic historians owe a world of debt to John Booth - for his informative historical writings & research on magic & magicians during the past 7 DECADES of his colorful life. John is in his 90s now, and still going strong.
houdinisghost
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John corrected it himself in a later Linking Ring column. I got Feb 8 from that column.
Prober
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Okay, this one hasn't been discussed for a few years, but as a kid I knew Murray when he ran a magic shop in Blackpool, in the North West of England. I ended up doing a few odd jobs for him at the home of him and his wife, Miriam. I recently bought some of his artefacts in auction and then, coincidentally, found a diary from my youth which mentions him in the very first entry, entitled 'A record of Magical Engagements and Events'. Reproduced here out of interest, complete with spelling and grammatical errors; I was 12 years old:
Easter Holidays, 1977
"I met mr. Murray, the famous magician. He invented the word 'Escapologist'. He is c.80-90 years old. [He would actually have been 75-76] He says he was as good as Houdini. I bought the Linking Rings off him. He owns a magic shop in Blackpool. I also bought a silk, flash paper and blank to bank notes. I went to see him 3 times! and showed him my LR routine. He showed me some moves with multiplied billiard balls. He performed in San Francisco when he was 19 years old. He says I am progressing very well. Got his autograph. Murray's Magic Mart 27 Cookson St. (off Church St. (North)) Blackpool phone 21704"
I'm quite prepared to believe that Houdini coined the term previously; there was obviously some rub there as I remember Murray telling me that when people referred to him as 'the new Houdini', he would reply 'No - I'm the first Murray!' Interestingly though, I regularly appear on a word game TV programme in the UK called 'Countdown' and a year or two ago we featured the word 'escapology' on there, and the resident lexicographer, Susie Dent, did some research which seemed to track the word down to Australia only as far back as around 1930. Murray might well have seen Houdini, or at least would have been influenced by him, as a young boy when the latter did his sole tour Down Under in 1910. What I do know for sure is that, as a 12 year old, he did have what I still remember fondly as a real magic shop.
John Cox
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Thanks for sharing those memories, Prober. I've always been a Murray fan.
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magicbymccauley
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Seems to me that an Escapist would be someone who escapes from things -ist, to do. An escapologist would be someone who studies how to escape. -ologist, study of.
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Steve_Mollett
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Quote:
On 2009-09-22 13:05, Moxahalla wrote:

And to those who refer to themselves as such, please pronounce the word correctly (personal pet-peeve Smile:

"Es-ca-pol-o-gist"....NOT "Escape-ologist".

---Moxahalla


Tomayto-tomawto--potayto-potawto...

However you choose to pronounce it, escapologist has always been a rather pretentious term.

If you tell the Average Joe you're an "es-ca-pol-o-gist," he'll probably respond, "Eskuh-whut?!?"

"Escape-ologist" at least offers a clue.

If in doubt, call yourself an escape artist, or "a guy that gets outta stuff." Smile
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Harley Newman
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Sometimes I say "I let people try to kill me". Sometimes it's true.
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thegreatnippulini
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Quote:
On 2009-09-22 13:05, Moxahalla wrote:
And to those who refer to themselves as such, please pronounce the word correctly (personal pet-peeve Smile:

"Es-ca-pol-o-gist"....NOT "Escape-ologist".

---Moxahalla

Does that mean you have performed an "ess-kah-pay"?
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dave_matkin
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Quote:
On 2013-02-13 19:05, Harley Newman wrote:
Sometimes I say "I let people try to kill me". Sometimes it's true.


Hey with everything I do I get a bit closer to death.....

I eat cheese you know! And as Todd Robbins once said "100% of people who eat cheese die!"

I did that line at a health and safety training event ..... People looked very worried made me laugh out loud (in side my head that is).
thegreatnippulini
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There's a lot of colonial era cemetaries in my area. Whenever I get the chance to drive around with an out-of-towner, I will point them out and say "All the people.... buried there, in that graveyard....... (looong pause) are dead".

Cheese or no, that one always works.
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Ian McColl
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I don't know why cemetaries have fences around them, those on the outside don't want to get it and those on the inside cannot get out.

When we are showing tourists around and drive past a cemetary, I just say " and over here is the dead centre of the town'
Steve_Mollett
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Quote:
On 2013-02-14 17:49, Ian McColl wrote:
I don't know why cemetaries have fences around them, those on the outside don't want to get it and those on the inside cannot get out.

When we are showing tourists around and drive past a cemetary, I just say " and over here is the dead centre of the town'

I dunno--I took my wife-to-be for a picnic in the cemetery on our first date.
Author of: GARROTE ESCAPES
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Stuart Burrell
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I hope I am not too off topic but is there a collective noun for a group of escapologists?
An example would be 'a murder of crows'
I have been looking yet found nothing EA related.
Steve_Mollett
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A CONVENTION. Smile
Author of: GARROTE ESCAPES
The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth.
- Albert Camus
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