Language Log brings it to our attention that a hoax might be giving millions of web users the wrong idea about the history and etymology of NYC’s nickname The Big Apple.

The term didn’t in fact originate with an early 19th-century immigrant from France named Eve, who (supposedly) ran a brothel and called the women who worked for her by a name that alluded to the biblical Eve’s fruit. A much more solid argument has been made by Barry Popik. It involves black stable workers from New Orleans and the horse-racing journalist John J. Fitz Gerald, who repeatedly used the word on the pages of the New York Morning Telegraph in the mid-1920s. Barry Popik’s findings are all over his site in little bits and pieces, but Cecil Adams at The Straight Dope conveniently summarises Popik’s research.

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