On Sun, 4 Feb 2018 17:38:13 -0800 (PST), Madrigal Gurneyhalt
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt Post by Dingbat
Origin of the epithet "egghead"?
The reason that people really seem to hate academics is because of their
ability to study and learn that allows them to use critical thinking to
deflate well-loved myths and prejudices. Such dislike is exemplified by
use of the epithet "egghead, a term in common use by right-wingers in
the 50s to denigrate the intellectuals and academics supporting Adlai
Stevenson in the 1952 Presidential campaign.
In the American English slang, egghead is an anti-elitist epithet used to
refer to intellectuals or people considered too out-of-touch with ordinary
people and too lacking in realism, common sense, sexual interests, etc. on
account of their intellectual interests. It was part of a widespread
anti-elitist social movement that insisted that credentialed intellectuals
were not the only smart people, but that serious human intelligence could
be found widespread among ordinary people regardless of class, race or
Well it's a nice theory but it does rather collapse when you discover that
the origins of the term appear to be the 1900s rather than the 1950s. Its
roots would appear to be visual primarily, the stereoptypical genius having
a brain so large that the head is too big for hair and, at least in its earliest
days a term of affection often used by eggheads themselves.
There is the similar, earlier, "high-brow" which started as
"high-browed". "Egghead" is just a descriptive term for a person with a
Etymology: < high adj. + browed adj.
Sense A. 2 is probably based on the belief that a high forehead
indicates greater than average intellect: compare, for example,
quot. 1828 at high adj. 5a and contrast earlier low-browed adj. 2.
2. fig. colloq. (orig. and chiefly U.S.). = highbrow adj.
Cf. low-browed adj. 2.
1876 B. Taylor Echo Club 88 No marvel of much wisdom Eustace
was,—You know him, Hal,—no high-browed intellect.
low-browed, adj. and n.
a. Of a person or (in later use) a hominid or skull of a hominid:
that has a low brow.
Frequently depreciatively, with the implication of a small brain
or primitive evolutionary status, and therefore a lack of
intelligence, breeding, or cultured and civilized behaviour (cf.
lowbrow adj. 1).
1734 London Mag. Jan. 39/2 The low-brow'd Muse, that gives
malignance birth, As oft excites our anger, as our mirth.
a1748 C. Pitt tr. Æneid (1753) III. vi. 249 From that celestial
energy began The low-brow'd brute; th'imperial race of man; The
painted birds, [etc.].
high, adj. and n.2
a. Of a person's forehead: large in distance from the eyes or
eyebrows to the hairline or top of the head.
Cf. high-browed adj. 1.
?c1450 tr. Bk. Knight of La Tour Landry (1906) 22 (MED) Whanne
the pie sawe a balled or a pilled man, or a woman with an high
1597 Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet ii. i. 18 I coniure thee by
Rosalindes bright eye, high forehead, and scarlet lip.
egg-head | egghead, n.
Etymology: < egg n. + head n.1
colloq. (orig. U.S.).
An intellectual, a ‘highbrow’. Also attrib.
1907 O. Johnson in Sat. Evening Post 16 Nov. 9/1 His genius
lived in the nicknames of the Egghead,..Morning Glory, [etc.].
c1918 C. Sandburg Let. (deposited in Toledo-Lucas County Public
Library, Toledo, Ohio) Dear N. D...‘Egg heads’ is the slang here
for editorial writers.
Peter Duncanson, UK