When did the New York Times become known as "The Gray Lady"?
February 2, 2012 10:55 PM   Subscribe

When did people start to refer to the New York Times as "The Gray Lady?" Was that name used in the 1920s, or is it a more recent nickname?
posted by Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Here's the opening paragraph of a 1951 Life article entitled "The Gray Lady Reaches 100":
The Old Gray Lady will celebrate her 100th birthday this Sept. 18. The "lady" is a newspaper -- the New York Times -- regarded by many in the world at large (and all within its own world) as the world's greatest. And newsmen generally hail it as "old" and "gray" by way of acknowledging its traditional special marks: starch conservatism and circumspection.
So, at least in 1951, the nickname needed explicit explanation to a lay (i.e.: non-journalist) audience.
posted by mhum at 11:21 PM on February 2, 2012

Best answer: Yeah, in my Googlings I'm not seeing anything earlier than the Life article. It was published on September 17th and then the first appearance of "Old Gray Lady" in the NYT itself given both by their own site search and Google News is from the 18th in a message from an NYC businessman to the paper,
BENJAMIN H. NAMM - Heartiest congratulations upon the 100th anniversary of THE NEW YORK TIMES. May the old gray lady never die and its presses keep rolling along.
This History of the New York Times, 1851-1921 doesn't appear to contain the phrase "gray lady" or "grey lady".

The author of the Life piece, Meyer Berger, was an NYT columnist.
posted by XMLicious at 12:04 AM on February 3, 2012

Nothing in Google books at all prior to the Life article.
posted by empath at 6:33 AM on February 3, 2012

Prior to that Life article, the only things I can find that are called 'The Old Gray Lady' are Nantucket and the White House (or possibly Congress).
posted by Kattullus at 7:12 AM on February 3, 2012

I've also heard of the LA Times referred to as the Grey Lady, but can't recall at the moment from where.
posted by Unsomnambulist at 5:28 PM on February 3, 2012

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