A Dictionary of Catch Phrases: British and American, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day

By Paul Beale; Eric Partridge | Go to book overview

D

'dab!' quoth Dawkins when he hit his wife on the arse with a pound of butter

was applied, mid C18-mid 19, to any noisy impact; it appears in Grose, 1785; to dab is 'to pat, to give with a pat'-and it was presumably a witticism prompted by a dab, or pat, of butter. Cf:


dab, says Daniel

was a nautical c.p. of c. 1790-1860: applied to 'lying bread and butter fashion' in bed or bunk. It occurs in 'A Real Paddy', Real Life in Ireland, 1822.


dad.

See: be like dad; go to the pub; he never had; here we come; I'll 'ave to ask; real nervous.


daddy.

See: don't go down; I'll be a ding-dong; what did you do; what do you think this is; and:


daddy, buy me one of those. See oh, mummy!…,

of which this is a var.


daddy wouldn't buy me a bow-wow

is mostly 'used in a seemingly petulant manner as a complaint that the speaker's request for something (probably trivial…) has been denied. As you suspected, it was the title of a song and appeared in the refrain. TABRAR, Joseph, “Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow-Wow” (1892). It has been referred to as “delightful bit of nonsense, whose comedy lay in the infallible trick of having a grown person talk like a child”. The “comic success” was one of the major hits of the decade' (Moe, 1975). Sung by Vesta Victoria, it is memorialized in Edward B. Marks, They All Sang, 1934, as W.J.B. tells me.


daddy's yacht.

See: what do you think this is.


daft.

See: don't act; how daft; not so d.; och man.


daft, I call it!

A juvenile c.p. of the early 1940s, popularised by the cartoons of Huge McNeill (1910-79) in the children's comic The Knockout. The Times, H.M.'s obituary, 6 Nov. 1979.


dagger.

See: take a d.


dam of that was a whisker-the.

This was a coll. and dialectal c.p. of c. 1660-1810 and was applied to a great lie. (Ray, 1678-cited by Apperson.) Could whisker have been a pun on whisper? That it wasn't a misprint is virtually proved by the existence of the almost synon. the mother of that was a whisker.


damage.

See: what's the d.


dame.

See: that dame.


damn a horse if I do!

A strong-almost a violent-refusal or rejection: c. 1810-60. 'Jon Bee', in his dictionary of slang and cant, 1823, shrewdly postulates an origin in damn me for a horse if I do (any such thing).


damn the torpedoes: full stream ahead!

See AMERICAN HISTORICAL BORDERLINERS-and cf the Irvin S. Cobb quot'n at where do we go from here?


damn' white of you-that's.

Lit., 'That's decent of you'-that's very kind or obliging of you-it was a cliché, but since early C20 it has usu. been heavily ironic: by c. 1970, at latest, ob. (R.C., 1978.) A var. of mighty white…, q.v.


damned.

See: you're damned.


dance.

See: aw, shucks, Ma; may he d.; nothing to make; Punch has done; save the last; shall we; stop that; Tenth; when you d.; and:


dance at your funeral-I'll (but occ. he'll or she'll).

'An old slanging-match catch phrase' (Albert B. Petch, who has helped me for well over thirty years): since c. 1880-pure guesswork, this; almost certainly current at least as early as 1900. In essence, this is a taunt and, by the speaker, regarded as a 'finalizer'.


dancer.

See: you must be a good.


dancing girls.

See: bring on the d.


dandruff.

See: how's your d.


dandy.

See: isn't that just d.


danger.

See: if in d.; when in d.


dangerous.

See: I'm a ball.


dangle.

See: angle; I shall see; let your braces.


Daniel.

See: dab, says.


dark.

See: hush; I feel like; I wouldn't like; it is as good; keep it d.; only way; result; tall, dark; when it gets.


darken.

See: never darken.


darlings.

See: hello, my darlings.


darn' clever these Armenians! (or Chinese!)

is the US version of


damned clever these Chinese, q.v. at clever chaps these Chinese!

Berrey, 1942, has it-and notes what was presumably the earlier form, darn' clever these Chinese!


dashboard.

See: keep your head.


date.

See: you date.


daughter.

See: don't laugh; have you heard the news; like the butcher's; would you like your.


David.

See: send it down.


Davy putting on the coppers for the parson (or parsons)

is a nautical c.p. comment on an approaching storm at sea: since c. 1830; by 1945, virtually extinct. The sailors' belief that there is an arch-devil of the sea is clearly implied.


dawn.

See: came the dawn; oh, to be; you'll be shot.


Dawkins.

See: 'dab!'


day

. See: all day; another day; any day; been a long; every day; fine day; full rich day; golden eagle; happy days; have a good; he never had; hurry no; I like work; I wish my; it will last; it's just one of those d.; lie of the d.; like a winter's; little man; made my; may you live; my mother told; one of these fine; one of these wet; one of those; punch a Pom; rooster; shit a day; some day; ten days; that will be; this is my; this is not my; 'tis not; 'twill; what a gay.


day the omelette hit the fan-the.

'The day when everything went wrong', is a not very common var. of when shit hits the fan and was adopted, c. 1966, from the US.


day war broke out-the.

(Usu. in a rather ponderous Northern accent.) 'A catchphrase created for radio by [the comedian] Robb Wilton (1881-1957). “The day war broke out, my missus looked at me and said, 'Eh! What good are you?'”

-60-

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A Dictionary of Catch Phrases: British and American, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface to the First Edition ix
  • Introduction to the First Edition x
  • Modifications of the Original Introduction xii
  • Acknowledgments to the First Edition xiv
  • Preface to the Second Edition xvi
  • Acknowledgments to the Second Edition xix
  • Abbreviations xxi
  • A 1
  • B 25
  • C 42
  • D 60
  • E 79
  • F 85
  • G 96
  • H 114
  • I 136
  • J 178
  • K 181
  • L 186
  • M 200
  • N 212
  • O 228
  • P 240
  • Q 251
  • R 253
  • S 261
  • T 289
  • U 323
  • V 326
  • W 328
  • X 360
  • Y 361
  • Z 384
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