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

P

p is silent, as in swimming-the.

(And variants.) See: silent, like the p…


p.o.e.t.s.

See: t.G.i.F.


pack drill.

See: no names.


packed.

See: so round.


paddle.

See: up Shit.


paddle your own canoe!

'This encouragement to self-reliance was the last line in the chorus of a sentimental music-hall song by the eminent Victorian “comic” singer Harry Clifton (1824-72). It was taken up as a catch phrase and it persisted right into Edward times' (Noble, 1977, who remembers it as late as his schooldays in the 1920s). The phrase appears in Harper's Monthly, May 1854, as by 'Anon.' (Bartlett's Dict, of Familiar Quotations). A rather more likely source that 'I think it much better that every man paddle his own canoe' in Frederick Marryat's Settlers in Canada, 1844, cited by the ODQ. Although decidedly ob., it has by implication, survived in the mock-French pas d'elle yeux Rhône que nous, current during my own schooldays, 1900-10, but itself vieux jeu. (Note written 1978.)


paddock.

See: kangaroos.


Paddy Doyle.

See: when Paddy.


padre.

See: speak up; went for.


page.

See: he's in the book.


paid out with spit

is a c.p. ref. to a small salary or low wages: US theatrical, since c. 1920; partially adopted, c. 1932, among English 'theatricals'. P.B.: in later C20 UK, miserly payments are usu. made in 'peanuts' or, since c. 1970, in 'shirt buttons'-presumably the latter are the smallest 'viable' buttons.


pain(s).

See: bringing; feeling; I have no; it'd give; you give me the; and:


pain in his little finger,

or occ. toe (-he has a). Applied to a malingering Serviceman or workman: C20. One who runs to the medical officer or a civilian doctor on any excuse-or none.


paint.

See: go and fetch; if it moves; if you can pee.


painters.

See: rags on.


pair.

See: there's a pair.


pakapoo ticket,

esp. as in, e.g. 'It looks like a pakapoo ticket'. Lit., indecipherable; hence (as. a c.p.) extremely untidy or confused: Aus.: C20; by 1978, ob., Wilkes observes. 'Pakapu is a Chinese gambling game, not unlike housie. A pakapu ticket, when filled, is covered with strange markings' (Edwin Morrisby, 1958). Indeed, S.J. Baker, in The Drum, 1959, gives the var. marked like a pakapoo ticket, 'confusedly or incomprehensibly marked'. Being merely an approx. transli-teration of unfamiliar Chinese sounds, there are of course many var. spellings.


pal(s).

See: dear old; it's your pal; never introduce.


palate.

See: midshipmen.


pale people.

See: pink pills.


pall-bearers.

See: fuck 'em all.


palm.

See: cross my p.


Palmer is concerned-Mr.

Applied, c. 1790-1850, to one who offers, or one who takes, a bribe: the underworld and its fringes. (Vaux.) A pun on palmy-to pass slyly.


panic.

See: pro bono; you panic.


panic stations!

is a c.p. only when not used literally; esp. when employed humorously: since 1939 or 1940. From the navy's be at panic stations-to be prepared for the worst.

L.A. adds, 1976, 'Said when unthinkable mistake or omission has been made, or an impending inspection by authority-originally in the Services-is announced and the comfortable has to be reconverted to regulation good order'.

'Also, “Don't hit the panic button!” said to someone about to do something disastrous, or potentially so… From the 1950s worry about nuclear war' (A.B., 1978): US. It is relevant to remember that almost endemic death wish in the US and, much less, in UK, c. 1948-62, which coloured many novels, plays, films, of the period. P.B.: and c. 1980-? See don't push


pantry.

See: half-crown.


pants.

See: don't pee; get the lead; laugh?; when you dance; when you were wearing.


panty lines.

See: your old man.


pap.

See: mouth.


papa.

See: come to papa; and:


papa's home, the seat's up and mama's home, the seat's down.

Orig. applied lit. to the seat in a water-closet, then to one or the other parent's being at home, it is now a joc. expression heard at homes everywhere in the US. (W.J.B., 1977.) It is extremely difficult to date domestic c.pp., but it's fairly safe to hazard the guess that it arose during the 1920s. P.B.: in UK, and with Dad and Mum substituted, from at least as early as c. 1910, to judge from my father's recollections.


paper(s).

See: all I know; 'book!'; go peddle; see you in the funny; sounds; you don't have p.


paper-bag.

See: couldn't knock.


paper-hanger.

See: busy as a one-; like a one-.


par for the course.

See: that's about.


Parachute.

See: that dame.


parade.

See: on parade.


paranoids.

See: even paranoids.


pardon me for living!

is 'an elaborate mock-apology, used by one checked for some minor error' (Leechman): Can.: since c. 1945. It was very soon adopted in UK: witness, in Noël Coward's 'A Richer Dust', one of the six stories comprising Star Quality, 1951, 'He jumped violently, and said in a voice of bored petulance, “Lay off me for one minute, can't you.” Discouraged, she withdrew her hand as requested, muttered “Pardon me for living”, and took a swig of tomato juice

'The US form is excuse me…' (J.W.C., 1977).


pardon my dust!

See: I'm off in a cloud of dust.

-240-

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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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