New York Times, “The Transformation of Black Friday”

November 24, 2013

Hilary Stout, “The Transformation of Black Friday” (New York Times, Nov. 24, 2013)

Ben Zimmer, executive producer of, who has researched and written about the term, says its association with shopping the day after Thanksgiving began in Philadelphia in the 1960s — and even then the reference wasn’t positive. The local police took to calling the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday because they had to deal with bad traffic and other miseries connected to the throngs of shoppers heading for the stores that day.

Needless to say, that use didn’t sit well with local retailers. They tried, according to Mr. Zimmer, to give the day a more positive name: Big Friday. That did not take, but eventually retailers — in Philadelphia and beyond — managed to spin a new connotation: The day retailer’s books went from red ink to black.

Read the rest here. (Related Word Routes column)

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