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The Lobster Shift

July 2020

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.

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