. 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.
. See TOMMY HANDLEY.
! 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.)
See: poor chap; what do you think this is.
. See: were you.
. See: I don't want to play.
! See: stinking Yarra!
! 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'.
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.).
[. 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…?]
. See: see you later, alligator.
. 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.
. 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.
. See: they don't yell.
! 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.”'
. See: your mother….
. 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.
. See: yes, I also know…
. See: what they say…
(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,
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
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…
, 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.
'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
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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: 361.
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