1880, proprietary name for white suspension of magnesium hydroxide in water, taken as an antacid, invented by U.S. chemist Charles Henry Phillips. Herbal or culinary preparations more or less resembling milk had been similarly named (for example milk of almond) since late 14c.
powerful defoliant used by U.S. military in the Vietnam War, reported to have been used from 1961; so called from the color strip on the side of the container, which distinguished it from Agent Blue, Agent White, etc., other herbicides used by the U.S. military; see agent (n.). Banned from April 1970.
also bobby socks, 1943, from diminutive of bob (n.2) + sox. So called because they are "shortened" compared to knee-socks. Derivative bobby-soxer "adolescent girl," especially with reference to fans of popular crooners, is attested by 1944.
Months ago colored bobby sox folded at the top were decreed, not by anyone or any group but, as usual, by a sudden mysterious and universal acceptance of the new idea. Now no teen-ager dares wear anything but pure white socks without a fold. [Life magazine, Dec. 11, 1944]
by 1936; popular from 1969 (with added pig (n.) by 1970); a specialized use of chauvinism, which in late 19c. international Communist Party jargon was extended to racism and in the next generation to sexism:
In this era, inspired by the CP's struggle against racism, women in the CP coined the term male chauvinism, in a parallel with white chauvinism, to derogate the conviction of men that they were better than women. [Jane Mansbridge and Katherine Flaster, "Male Chauvinist, Feminist, and Sexual Harassment, Different Trajectories in Feminist Linguistic Innovation," "American Speech," vol. lxxx, no. 3, Fall 2005]
Related: Male-chauvinism (1969).
"smoked herring" early 15c. (they turn red when cured), as opposed to white herring "fresh herring." Supposedly used by fugitives to put bloodhounds off their scent (1680s), hence metaphoric sense (1864) of "something used to divert attention from the basic issue;" earlier it simply meant "a false lead":
Though I have not the honour of being one of those sagacious country gentlemen, who have so long vociferated for the American war, who have so long run on the red-herring scent of American taxation before they found out there was no game on foot; (etc.) [Parliamentary speech dated March 20, 1782, reprinted in "Beauties of the British Senate," London, 1786]
type of metal-cased bullet which expands on impact, 1897, named for Dum-Dum arsenal in Bengal. British army soldiers made them to use against fanatical charges by tribesmen. Outlawed by international declaration, 1899. The place name is literally "hill, mound, battery," cognate with Persian damdama.
It was to stop these fanatics [Ghazi] — and that firstclass fighting man Fuzzy-Wuzzy, of the Soudan and of Somaliland—that the thing known as the Dum-Dum bullet was invented. No ordinary bullet, unless it hits them in a vital part or breaks a leg, will be sufficient to put the brake on these magnificently brave people. ["For Foreign Service: Hints on Soldiering in the Shiny East," London, 1915]
Pile on the brown man's burden
And if ye rouse his hate,
Meet his old fashioned reasons
With Maxims up-to-date;
With shells and dum dum bullets
A hundred times make plain,
The brown man's loss must ever
Imply the white man's gain.
[Henry Labouchère, from "The Brown Man's Burden," 1899]
The American folk custom of wearing or displaying a yellow ribbon to signify solidarity with loved ones or fellow citizens at war originated during the U.S. embassy hostage crisis in Iran in 1979. It does not have a connection to the American Civil War, beyond the use of the old British folk song "Round Her Neck She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" in the John Wayne movie of the same name, with a Civil War setting, released in 1949.
The story of a ribbon tied to a tree as a signal to a convict returning home that his loved ones have forgiven him is attested from 1959, but the ribbon in that case was white.
The ribbon color seems to have changed to yellow first in a version retold by newspaper columnist Pete Hamill in 1971. The story was dramatized in June 1972 on ABC-TV (James Earl Jones played the ex-con). Later that year, Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown copyrighted the song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree," which became a pop hit in early 1973 and sparked a lawsuit by Hamill, later dropped.
In 1975, the wife of a Watergate conspirator put out yellow ribbons when her husband was released from jail, and news coverage of that was noted and remembered by Penne Laingen, whose husband was U.S. ambassador to Iran in 1979 and one of the Iran hostages taken in the embassy on Nov. 4. Her yellow ribbon in his honor was written up in the Dec. 10, 1979, Washington Post.
When the hostage families organized as the Family Liaison Action Group (FLAG), they took the yellow ribbon as their symbol. The ribbons revived in the 1991 Gulf War and again during the 2000s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.