Monday, February 26, 2007

Birth of rave

When was the birth of rave as a word for a wild party and raver as the party-goer? Quite a few sources suggest a Caribbean origin. The Wikipedia entry on 'Rave' currently states that 'The slang expression rave was originally used by people of Caribbean descent in London during the 1960s to describe a party'. We have however already established that jazz parties in London were already being called raves by 1952 at the latest.

Simon Reynolds has pondered (by email) that 'he wouldn't be surprised if it was actually a Scottish or Irish term originally cos there was a big Irish influence in Jamaica, a lot of indentured servants and the like, and you have that whole crossover between the shebeen and the blues - rowdy house parties'. This is an interesting line of enquiry, the Online Etymology Dictionary notes the word relating to madness is Old French, with another meaning in Scottish dialect. The dictionary mistakenly dates 'rave' as party to 1960, but pushes the birth date back further by noting that 'rave up' for party goes back to 1940. So far then, 1940 is the earliest specific use related to partying. Anyone got any examples from that time, or even an earlier usage? The full definition from the Online Etymology Dictionary is as follows:

rave (v.):
c.1374, "to show signs of madness or delirium," from O.Fr. raver, variant of resver "to dream, wander, rave," of unknown origin (see reverie). The identical (in form) verb meaning "to wander, stray, rove" first appeared c.1300 in Scottish and northern dialect, and is probably from an unrelated Scand. word (cf. Icelandic rafa). Sense of "talk enthusiastically about" first recorded 1704. Noun meaning "rowdy party" is from 1960, though rave-up was British slang for "wild party" from 1940; specific modern sense of "mass party with loud, fast electronic music and often psychedelic drugs" is from 1989. Raver, from this sense, is first recorded 1991. Raving is attested from 1475; sense of "remarkable" is from 1841.


jackson said... this site i just pasted is a really awesome use of the word. and very interesting story as well. it pertains to the only still unreleased beatles track ever. please enjoy

Anonymous said...

Rév : (pronunciation is the same as rave) Hungarian word for the place where you can get over the river by a ferry.

Révül : Hungarian word meaning raving or being raved. Extatic mental state when connecting to the nonmaterial world or speaking with dead ancestors.