When the OED added its entry for party animal, meaning ‘an exuberant reveler’, in 2005, the earliest quotation we were able to include was from 1982, but we knew that the term could almost certainly be traced earlier. As our entry notes, the slang lexicographer Jonathan Lighter has recorded hearing the term in a Saturday Night Live episode which aired in 1978: ‘Here is the party animal himself—Bill Murray.’ There is also a record of the similar term party hound being used in 1973. Yet, the first verifiable evidence we had at hand was from an interview with the playwright Israel Horovitz:
1982 New York Times 2 July c8/5 If this movie stops one couple from getting a divorce because it’s the groovy, party-animal thing to do, it’s worth everything.
Can you help us uncover party animal‘s earlier history? Records of spoken language such as television and film sources may hold the key, including any leads on establishing the original air date for the usage on Saturday Night Live.
Posted by OED_Editor on 20 December 2012 20.22