Gumshoe originated around 1906, and comes from “the rubber-soled shoes [detectives] wore,” perhaps because they allow the wearer “to move about stealthily.” Dick meaning detective “is recorded from 1908, perhaps as a shortened variant of detective.” Shamus, slang for a police officer or private investigator, may come from the Hebrew shamash, “servant,” referring to the “sexton of a synagogue,” and influenced by the Irish name Seamus, or James, “a typical name for an Irish cop.”You can dig up the whole Wordnik post here.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
The blog Wordnik (yeah, I didn’t know there was such a thing either until earlier today) has put together a short but interesting backgrounder on some terms that are very familiar to crime-fiction readers. Included among the bunch is this example:
Posted by J. Kingston Pierce at 2:06 PM