Skip to main content

The Lobster Shift

June 2024
1min read

As a graduate of one newspaper’s postmidnight “lobster shift,” I recall being told in the late 1940s one theory regarding the origin of that expression, mentioned in the July/August edition (“Brisk Walk and Brusque Talk” by Gene Smith). And it doesn’t involve the beloved lobster, in any condition. The root of the word is merely “lob,” an English slang import meaning blockhead, buffler, idler, or similar pejorative applied to journalistic neophytes who were routinely assigned to this dead period, generally to keep them out of the mainstream of news—and thus out of trouble’s way.

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.

Donate