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

Y

Y is a crooked letter

. A reply to children continually asking 'Why?': Aus. domestic: C20, from trad. UK, dating, I'd guess, from at least as early as mid C19.


Y.T.Y.T.K

. See TOMMY HANDLEY.


yabbadabba doo

! A cry of exultation, uttered by 'Fred Fhntstone' (the voice was that of Jackie Gleason: Ashley) in 'The Flintstones', 'one of the most popular cartoon series in the history of television' (W. Brasch, Cartoon Monickers, 1983). The series depicted current US suburban life translated back into a make-believe 'Stone Age', and was shown in many parts of the world: B.P. vouches for the c.p.'s use among Aus. surfers, and I for its popularity among British servicemen in Hong Kong, in the early 1960s. Cf hubba hubba! (P.B.)


yacht(s).

See: poor chap; what do you think this is.


Yapton

. See: were you.


yard

. See: I don't want to play.


Yarra, stinking Yarra

! See: stinking Yarra!


ye gods and little fishes

! was, c. 1884-1912, a lower-and lower-middle-class indication of contempt; from c. 1912 until c. 1940, a gen. exclam. either of derision or of humour. So lofty a phrase found its humble level by way of 'the Transpontine (or Surrey-side) Melodrama' or, as Ware puts it, 'mocking the theatrical appeal to the gods'.


yea big, yea high

is a US c.p.-'a sophisticated fad phrase since c. 1955' (W & F). Starting from the lit. 'thus big or thus high', indicated by the hands being spread laterally or raised, two contradictory senses derive: 'very large or high, overwhelmingly large or tall'; and, with suitably modified gestures, 'not very big or high' (W & F). Some occ. use in UK, late 1960s-early 70s (P.B.).


yea(h), bo

[. Only doubtfully a c.p., of c. 1925-50; certainly two words, not one, as in a suggested derivation from the Zulu yebo, yes, which suggestion is simply incredible, since there is no likely channel through which a Zulu word could have reached the US-in 1925 or at any other time. (American Negroes originated in West Africa, 2000 miles from the Zulus.)

A far more plausible explanation is simply 'Yeah, bo', 'the latter word…used in direct address to a man…[Perhaps] a contraction of boss, often used as a respectful term of address-e.g. by Negroes to Whites' (R.C., 1978). The D. Am. proposes a shortening of bozo, perhaps from Span.; I think that it may come from Fr. beau. P.B.: or boy, or the old East Anglian bor…?]


yeah, see you in a while, crocodile

. See: see you later, alligator.


yeah, you could shit a brick

. Like hell you could!; Can.: since c. 1930. Suggested by the slangy shit a brick, to have an excessively hard stool after a long costive period.


year(s)

. See: Christmas; first hundred; first seven; it'll be all the same; it's been a very; May bees; ole man; thirty five; who was your.


yell

. See: they don't yell.


yer blood's worth bottling

! An Aus. c.p., indicating either very warm approval or hearty congratulations: since c. 1950. Russell Braddon, in his Preface to the English ed. (1958) of They're a Weird Mob (1957) has: To Nino Culotta, therefore, in thanks for this book, I say: “Thanks, mate. Yer blood's worth bottling.”'


yer mother and father

. See: your mother….


yes: a cat with two legs

. A C18-20, by 1960 ob., domestic c.p.-the housewife's traditional reply to an errant housemaid; beautifully exemplified in S, 1738, early in Dialogue I:

LADY SM[ART]: Go, run Girl, and warm some fresh Cream.

BETTY: Indeed, Madam, there's none left, for the Cat has eaten it all.

LADY SM: I doubt it was a Cat with two Legs.


yes, and I know…

. See: yes, I also know…


yes, and what they say about Chinese women…

. See: what they say…


yes, but beautifully cooked

(or served) is 'the dovetail retort to the cookhouse or mess complaint (among those at table) that “This food is shit!”' (P.B., 1974): Services': since mid C20 at latest, and prob. also US Forces' as well,


yes, but in the right place

is a fast girl's, or a prostitute's, retort to the 'You're cracked' or 'You must be cracked': late C19-20. (I first heard it in 1922 from a man about town.) Cf cracked in the right place and


yes, but not the inclination

is a joc.-or a saucy-reply, from either sex to the other, to the question, 'Have you the time?' Cf yes, but who'll…and see also any day…


yes, but only just

, short for yes, that's right, but only just (with payment understood). In reply to 'Is that the right money?' First heard in 1949 or 1950, but not a c.p. until the late 1950s.


yes, but what have you done for melately?

'Maybe 20 or 30 years old; but still widely current, ' says J.W.C., 1975, adding:

Very specifically Jewish in original allusion, but the kind of Jewish joke that is not anti-Jewish…and is first circulated among them, with humorous allusion to qualities particu- larly attributed to them-in this case, insatiable and single-minded rapacity. The specific story is essentially this. A (relatively) poor and uninfluential Jew visits a rich or influential one, a friend of his, to ask a favor. The friend, weary of his visitor's repeated importunities, names, with exasperation and sarcasm, the many favors he has done him in the past; to which the beggar replies with self-righteous indignation, 'Yes, but what have you done for me lately?' Now used here, as a c.p., of any such person, Jewish or Gentile, but always with allusion to this story.

Ashley, 1982, comments: 'heartless, inconsiderate attitude ascribed to show biz types (esp. sharp Jewish Hollywood agents)-the anti-Semitism often underlined by an assumed

-361-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

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

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 389

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.