This article surveys the earliest attestations of blotto `drunk' and proposes a new etymology for it in their light. The first nine attestations of the form in English can be dated between July 1917 and the end of January 1919; eight of them, all with the sense `drunk', have a connection to World War I's Western Front. The odd one out, in which Blotto is used as a proper name and has no connection to intoxication, is from a story written by an Englishman residing in Paris. The article argues that none of the previously offered explanations of blotto is satisfactory and points out that none explains the nearly simultaneous emergence of the form in Western Front slang and as a fictional name. It proposes that blotto was likeliest suggested by the name of Blotto Frères, manufacturer of a well-known and often unstable delivery vehicle widely used in France in the early twentieth century.
John Considine; EARLY USES AND ETYMOLOGY OF BLOTTO. American Speech 1 February 2009; 84 (1): 72–82. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-2009-005
Download citation file: