serials

In the NYT on the 12th, an obit, “Robert Taylor, Who Put Hand Soap in a Bottle, Dies at 77” by John Schwartz:

Robert R. Taylor, a serial entrepreneur who popularized hand soap from a pump [Softsoap], gambling $12 million to prevent competitors from duplicating it, and fragrances like “Obsession,” which he advertised with artful eroticism, died on Aug. 29 in Newport Beach, Calif.

… Mr. Taylor built and sold 14 consumer products businesses during a long career, starting in 1964 with Village Bath Products, a company he founded with $3,000 to sell scented, hand-rolled soap balls through gift shops. Working initially out of his garage, he was soon selling more than 100 products through department stores.

It was serial entrepreneur that caught my eye. Easily understood, but new to me, I think. Not, however, new to the world.

OED3 (March 2013) on the adjective serial (in the revelant usage):

7. Of a person: that repeatedly or regularly performs a specified activity; inveterate, persistent; spec. (of a criminal) repeatedly committing the same offence and typically following a similar characteristic behaviour pattern. Also (of an action or practice): performed by the same person on a regular or sequential basis; habitual, recurrent.

Some of the more established uses of this type are treated separately. Recorded earliest in serial murderer n. [1947, below]

Later uses in this sense are probably influenced by serial killern., serial killing n.

1947   S. Kracauer in Partisan Rev. 14 162   A criminal who has been caught in the act of killing a woman,..who now frantically denies that he is the pursued serial murderer.

[later cites for: serial polygamy; serial golfers, swimmers, gymnasts; serial violent offenders; a serial espouser of every reactionary cause; a serial attacker]

[special uses in serial adulterer, serial entrepreneur, serial marriage, serial monogamist, serial monogamy, serial murderer, serial rapist]

serial entrepreneur n. an entrepreneur who starts up or runs multiple successive businesses, esp. one who moves on as soon as the challenge or thrill of making a venture profitable is over. [cites from 1991 on]

So Taylor was a serial entrepreneur before there was a word for it.

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