Saturday, May 31, 2008

Private Eye

What is the first use in literature of the term 'private eye'?

I would like to put in a bid for Sherlock Holmes. Although he was never called a private eye, he is the doyen of all such. In the Valley of Fear, early in the tale one policeman writes to another "This is for your private eye." meaning 'for your eyes only.' Since he had Sherlock alongside him as he read it and he was asked to share the information with him and to bring him along on the case, it surely here has a double meaning.


Anonymous said...

You mean 'doyen'. A doyenne is the senior female member of a group. A doyen is the senior male member of a group.

I don't recall were I first encountered the term, but here in the US it's sometimes used to describe an ancient member of the White House press corp, Helen Thomas. (BTW she's as old as my father would have been, had he lived. She somewheres around 88 and still working.)

I like your argument. I've never considered where the term came from. Sounds plausible.

Terry Hamblin said...

Yes, I knew that. Careless! I changed it.