Where Did The Term Black Friday Originate?

Language guru Ben Zimmer has tracked down what he believes to be the source of the phrase. He writes that the term originated in the 1960s in Philadelphia. Traffic was so bad the day after Thanksgiving that police officers had to work 12-hour shifts. So they gave the day a negative — and memorable — name.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK. So the term Black Friday supposedly comes from the idea that merchants count on high sales to put them in the black not the red. Or so we thought, and we'll try to clear this up in our last word in business today. Language guru Ben Zimmer, producer of the Visual Thesaurus, has tracked down what he believes to be the source of the phrase. He writes that the term actually originated in the 1960s in Philadelphia, and at the beginning merchants hated it because of the reason it was coined.

Traffic was so bad the day after Thanksgiving, police officers had to work 12-hour shifts, so they gave the day a negative and memorable name. And that's the business news on MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

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