For 'e don't know where 'e lives see doesn't know…, and for 'e never 'ad no mother see he never…
'Dialect, e.g. Sussex dialect, or mock dialect, said of one who lacks understanding of his, or the, circumstances' (L.A., 1977). Elliptical for…only 'arf sharp: C20; but as a c.p., prob. not earlier than c. 1930 and apparently ob, by c. 1970.
was a c.p., predominantly Cockney, of the 1890s; it was applied to a half-wit or, at best, a moron or, rather, to someone acting in such a way; and esp. to one who has lost his sense of reality. Julian Franklyn, who knew so much of and about the music-halls, once told me that this c.p. arose in a music-hall song: 'Since Jack Jones come into a 'arf a'nounce o' snuff, 'e dunno where 'e are. 'E's got the cheek and impudence to call 'ee's muvver Ma.' The song was sung by Gus Elen (1863-1940) during the Edwardian period. (See, e.g. Ronald Pearsall, Edwardian Popular Music, 1975.) Shaw, 1969, adduces a var. she dunno where she are, and thinks that this was a joke from Punch. Cf doesn't know…, para. 3.
'From Ted Ray and Kitty Bluett in radio comedy series “Ray's a Laugh” late 1940s and 1950s' (Noble, 1975). Uttered in a Northern-accented, high-pitched voice, and always à propos 'Young Doctor 'Ardcastle' (P.B.). Cf ee, it was agony, Ivy!
See: can you do; cloth-ears; eyes and ears; get your ears; I didn't ask; I got ears; let's play it; my ears; pull in; pull your ear; shake your; speak a little; that'll pin; Walls; will she; word in your.
See: first term; vote early.
See: you have to spend.
(often shortened to earwig!). 'Be quiet-there's someone listening': Brit, underworld: c. 1830-1914 and perhaps later. It occurs in the invaluable Sessions Papers (which, incidentally, I was the first scholar to examine linguistically and systematically), 10 Apr. 1849, thus: 'He said “earwig, earwig”…they were then silent.' A pun both on the lit. sense of earwig and on ear; cf the US underworld pun in (Lake) Erie, 'eary'.
See: doesn't know.
See: go easy; make it e.; she rapes; shit me; there must be.
It's dead easy: essentially masculine: since c. 1945-if not ten, twenty, thirty years earlier. (John=John Thomas, now a rather outmoded euph.)
or, in full, it's as easy…. It is simplicity itself-if you know how; in the RAF slang of WW2, 'It's a piece of cake'. It orig. either in 1940 or, at the latest, in early 1941; by 1950, slightly ob., and by 1970, virtually †. (Granville, 1968.)
Do it gently, take your time!: since c. 1840. Cf softly, softly…
Go more slowly! Be a bit more careful! R.S., 1977, explains the phrase thus: 'It was a witness at the June 1733 London Sessions who used pimple stones for the pebbles found on a very drunken sea-cook who came ashore to shoot up the streets of London with a pistol, just for the hell of it. Having just been engaged in shovelling ballast on board, he filled his pockets with pimple stones to save money on lead shot'. Which would put the phrase to the earlyish 1730s and presuppose a long subterranean life, as prob. many more such phrases have had, and enjoyed, far beyond the printed records-cf I'll have your guts for garters.
See: don't do anything you; don't wear; formerly; go and eat; he hath eaten; hokey-pokey; I can't believe; I could eat; I'll eat; I'll go out; I've done; I've eaten; it must have been; never shit; only eating; she looks; they're eating; we won't; what's eating; who ate; you are sick; you look; and:
was a c.p. of c. 1926-34. (Collinson.) From the famous trade slogan.
'You're crazy-go away and bother someone else': US schoolboys': very approx. late 1940s-1960s (A.B., 1978.)
is a Scottish c.p. invitation to 'eat hearty': late C19-20. (Mrs M.C. Thomson of Bray-on-Thames, 1975.) Aunts being notably generous to their nephews and nieces. Cf dig in….
Uttered in imitation of Bette Davis, a line she says to Joan Crawford in the film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, 1962. 'Nasty', comments Ashley, 1979.
'Doesn't that make you jealous or envious?: since mid-1960s; but, even by 1978, neither very widespread nor gen. in UK, whither it migrated from US. Neil Lovett notes, 1978, that in Aus. it has been current, without fella, since c. 1965, to mean 'Grow thin, fall ill, with envy or worry or grief, and see if I care'; the phrase was prob. popularised in Aus. by the TV programme 'Laugh-In', of American origin. 'But, I note in Sep. 1978, it has gained ground in Brit.: in Bryan Forbes's International Velvet, 1978, I find it employed allusively: 'He took the manuscript [a story written by a schoolgirl] from her… “Harold Robbins, eat your heart out!”' (H.R. being, of course, one of the world's half-dozen best-selling novelists during the middle and late 1970s).
See: he hath eaten the rump.
Current from the mid-1850s to 1914, and still quoted in later C20, this phrase reflects the prejudiced, illiterate British lower-class attitude towards foreigners. It was inspired by a Leech cartoon in Punch, 25 Feb. 1854, p. 82, showing two miners regarding a gentleman,
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Publication information: Book title: A Dictionary of Catch Phrases: British and American, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day. Contributors: Paul Beale - Editor, Eric Partridge - Author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1993. Page number: 79.
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