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Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010
by PopMatters Staff
by Ben Zimmer
Visual Thesaurus (5 March 2010)

“Vietnam was a breeding ground for other hurt phrases, such as in the hurt locker, in the hurt bag and in the hurt seat, all defined by Lighter as “in trouble or at a disadvantage; in bad shape.” On February 21, 1966, an Associated Press article by John T. Wheeler appeared in many newspapers around the country, quoting a U.S. military adviser as saying, “If an army marches on its stomach, old Charlie is in the hurt locker.” (“Charlie is an American nickname for the Viet Cong,” Wheeler explained to readers not yet familiar with such slang.) Then on July 27, 1967, in another AP report by Wheeler, hurt locker showed up in a quote from a corporal: “Then old Charlie opens up with those damned AK47 assault rifles, and, whammo, we were really in the hurt locker.”“


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