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The Nik of Time

In response to:

Moon Fever from the August 15, 2019 issue

To the Editors:

James Gleick writes, in “Moon Fever” [NYR, August 15], “If it wasn’t for Sputnik, we wouldn’t have had ‘beatniks,’ ‘peaceniks,’ or ‘no-goodniks.’” He is mistaken. The OED shows that S.J. Perelman used “nogoodnick” in The New Yorker in 1936: “A parasite, a leech, a bloodsucker—altogether a five-star nogoodnick!” H.L. Mencken’s American Language (1919) has an entry for the general suffix “-nick”: “The suffix –nick, signifying agency, is…freely applied. Allrightnick means an upstart, an offensive boaster…consumptionick means a victim of tuberculosis.”

Ernest Davis
New York City