“Bust A Cap”

I was surprised to find the term “busting a cap” in the novel True Grit. It was published in 1968.

Google revealed others found this long before me.

But I got even more curious and I went to look at Google Books to see if was used earlier. Since Google Books searches rely on unproofread OCR, in no way should it ever be used for scholarship. But this is pop culture, so it’s permissible just for a peek.

I found it published in at least three places.

Click each image to enlarge.

The Southwestern Reporter – Volume 104 – Page 327, published in 1907:

Proceedings in the Ku Klux Trials at Columbia, S.C.: In the United States Circuit Court, November Term, 1871. Printed from Government Copy – page 508, published in 1872:

Si Klegg: Thru the Stone River Campaign and in Winter Quarters at Murfreesboro – page 71, published in 1910:

There are other instances, but this will do.

Who knew a term from the Wild West of the 1800s found new life in the latter 20th century?

It makes me wonder who was the first to use it in our day and wound up being the prime influencer who made it spread!

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