Who IS Kilroy?
June 28, 2001 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Who IS Kilroy? Kilroy WAS Real! James J. Kilroy.....lived in Boston, Massachusetts, served in the Legislature and during World War II worked in a shipyard in Quincy where the famous saying was born.
posted by Wicker (16 comments total)
Everything old is new again.. "all your bases belong to us"
posted by stbalbach at 3:09 PM on June 28, 2001

msacheson was here
posted by msacheson at 3:15 PM on June 28, 2001

Very cool link, wicker.
posted by silusGROK at 3:18 PM on June 28, 2001

Kilroy was not here.
Until now.
posted by tamim at 3:24 PM on June 28, 2001

too bad he ended up here
posted by machaus at 3:31 PM on June 28, 2001

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.
posted by lannie628 at 3:31 PM on June 28, 2001

>Kilroy was not here.
>Until now...

Not so fast...it appears Kilroy has been here before...
posted by webchick at 3:57 PM on June 28, 2001

Good to read. I had posted a Kilroy story on my blog (no name so I won't be called self-serving) and wondered how many people would even recognize the name of Kilroy. Alas, today we get Nike swosh was everywhere.
posted by Postroad at 3:58 PM on June 28, 2001

I win.

posted by techgnollogic at 4:46 PM on June 28, 2001

I'm skeptical and side with the OED: "The explanation in quot. 1946 is one of numerous unverifiable accounts of the origin of the name." The story's too pat for my taste, and as for anything decided as "true" as the result of a corporate promotional event...

Here's a fun link to some more Kilroy legends. Another one.
posted by Mo Nickels at 4:53 PM on June 28, 2001

There are plenty of similar stories floating around with regards to the origin of the term 'O.K.' Most of them involve someone named 'Otto K.', or whatever, and his having been an assembly line inspector at an auto company. He would mark the inspected cars with his initials (O.K.), thus creating the term we use today.

Myth? I don't know. Anybody have a link on that one?
posted by daveleck at 5:01 PM on June 28, 2001

Good grief, OK predates the auto industry by almost a century. The two leading explanations that were accepted for some time were that OK was adopted by the supporters of then-future President Martin Van Buren, aka "Old Kinderhook"; and that it was short for oll korrect, a jocular mis-spelling that was marked on shipping bills and the like. Further evidence of the mis-spelling fad in the early 19th century has emerged, bolstering the 2nd theory.

Lots more on this and other word mysteries at the alt.usage.english faq.

For what it's worth, I've never heard the Otto K story, and I've been interested in word-origins for twenty years.
posted by dhartung at 5:16 PM on June 28, 2001

I used to hear the Otto K story when working in the auto industry. Guess they wanted to feel important, so they made the story applicable to themselves.
posted by daveleck at 5:25 PM on June 28, 2001

This is easy. Kilroy is a much loved morning talk-show host on BBC1. With his down-to-earth candour and dashing 60 year old looks, he's a favourite with grannies who have nothing better to watch in the mornings.

Sadly, however, I couldn't find a single Web page about him or with a picture of him on. Shame.
posted by wackybrit at 6:06 PM on June 28, 2001

Thanks for the link, Wicker.

For those who found this as interesting as I did, check out History House. A great site with some intriguing historical subject matter.
posted by ttrendel at 11:44 PM on June 28, 2001

daveleck, not to worry, it's a common feature of urban legends that they mutate to fit local circumstances. For instance, the story about the "Mrs. Field's cookie recipe" that costs "two fifty" (which turns out to be $250.00 when the credit card bill arrives) was often told, a couple generations ago, about whatever local department store restaurant was in your city (in the Midwest, typically Marshall Field's ... an obvious mutation point).

The thing about word origins is that people often prefer the outlandish and unlikely explanation, e.g. "fornication under consent of the king" ...
posted by dhartung at 10:33 AM on June 29, 2001

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