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

G

Gabriel.

See: blow, G.


Gad, sir, when I was in Poona.

'A c.p. common among adults and older children or adolescents alike as [up to c. 1940, then only occ., and now only ironically or mock-nostalgically]: “Gad, sir, when I was in Poona…” spoken in mimicry or mockery of the red-faced Anglo-Indian colonel who was also the club bore, the latter being in civil or military guise, a stock property of humorous writing of the time. The phrase was, of course, significant beyond this of impatience among youth with those venerable military or ex-military figures who, before WW1, had inspired a more reverent attitude' (Mr P. Daniel, 1978). It was only after WW1 (1914-18) that the expression became a c.p. Cf two other fellows from Poona, and when I was in Patagonia, qq.v. P.B.: as one who as a child was familiar with the phrase c. 1940, I know that we found the very name of Poona hilarious long before any awareness of its significance as a major military headquarters.


gaiters.

See: all gas; guns, gas.


gal

. See: I'll have your gal.


gall

. See: of all the nerve; you've got your nerve; and;


gall not yet broken

or, in full, his gall is not yet broken. A Brit, underworld c.p. that, used in mid C18-mid C19, was applied ironically to a clearly dispirited, even despairing, prisoner, either by the warders or by his fellow-prisoners. (Recorded by Grose, 1785.) A pun on the long-obsolete galls, or gall, courage.


Gallagher.

See: absolutely, Mr G.; hi, ho! let her go; let her go.


gallery.

See: no remarks.


gallop.

See: if I stick.


galloper.

See: his means.


gamble on that!;

orig. you can, or may, gamble on that A c.p. synonym of 'assuredly!' or 'certainly!': adopted c. 1870 from the US, where used since before 1866, when humorist Artemus Ward used it; in Britain, † by 1960 and ob. by 1940; in US apparently † by 1940, ob. by 1920.


game.

See: high, low; I do not like; I'm a true; if I have the name; it's a g.; it's an old army; it's only a g.; it's the only g.; name of; play the g.; plays a g.; talks a good; that's the name; there's a one-eyed; what a g.; and:


game as Ned Kelly (-as).

It is recorded in Wilkes, Dict. Aus. Coll., 1978, where the earliest printed ref. is dated 1945, but it has been current for very much longer, the bank-robber so named having been hanged in 1880; his last words-so myth, perhaps fact, has it-were 'Such is life'; now a part of Aus. folk-history. P.B.: Wilkes also lists the variants game as a pebble (later C19-early 20), and…a piss-ant (mid-C20), but E.P.'s notes make no mention of these equally picturesque similes.


game of darts.

See: fuck that for a comic.


game of soldiers.

See: fuck that for a lark.


games.

See: don't let's play.


gammon and spinach.

See: all smoke.


Gamp is my name and Gamp my natur'

is, lit., a familiar quot'n from Dickens, but if another surname is substituted, the quot'n, no longer such, becomes a c.p., educated and, indeed, cultured, of late C19-20 (cited by Collinson) but rather less used after, than before, 1940.


gang.

See: hail.


gangbusters

occurs in two US c.pp.: (e.g., he) comes on like gangbusters and (e.g., it's) going like gangbusters. The first means that he plays or sings or dances exceptionally, esp. in a spectacular way: perhaps orig. Harlem jive, hence US entertainment in gen., and noted by Cat Calloway, 1944. Often shortened to he really comes on: contrast creeps on like a shadow. The going like…is applied to something moving, or selling, very rapidly, and is contemporary with comes on … R.C., who sends a quot'n from The Boston Globe of 14 July 1978, explains: '“Gangbusters” was a popular radio program of the 1940s; the ref. is either to the success of the program itself or (more likely) to the vigorous and successful pursuit of gangsters by its police protagonists'. Ashley, however, recalls, 1982, that the programme always began with a hullaballoo of fast car noises, police sirens, shrieking tyres, etc., and that it was this well-conveyed urgency that prompted the phrases.


gangway for a naval officer!:

or, occ., gangway! make way for … The latter is the English, the former the Aus. and NZ, WW1 c.p. F&G give the longer form only and gloss it thus: 'An expression, heard sometimes among New Zealand Army men, anywhere and on any occasion, meaning “Get out of the way”, “Stand back”, “Clear a passage”'-but chiefly the third. '“Gangway!” is ordinarily a common warning call on board ship' for bystanders to make way for someone, or a party, engaged on the ship's business. In B&P, John Brophy writes, 'GANGWAY FOR A NAVAL OFFICER!-A facetious method of asking for a passage through a group of soldiers, or of announcing sotto voce the approach of some self-important officer or NCO.' P.B.: the shorter form was still current among older soldiers in the 1960s.

In WW2 the corresponding, yet independent, c.p. among US servicemen was make way for a (or the) lady with a baby or with a (or the) pram, q.v.


gaol.

See: see you in court; worse in.


garbage.

See: leave the g.


garbage in, garbage out!

'The computermen's c.p. par excellence. Now so well known as to have the recognized abbr. GIGO (pron. with a long i). It means simply that if one feeds into the machines, for processing, material that is rubbish, then rubbish will be churned out in return. From US and current since the widespread use of data-processing machines' (P.B., 1975). The Concise Oxford Dict, of Proverbs, 1982, gives an early source in print at 1964.


garden.

See: everything in the g.; everything is nice; I'll go out.

-96-

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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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