Brit euphemism...

Bruce D. Boling bboling at UNM.EDU
Tue Dec 7 17:39:28 UTC 1999

On Tue, 7 Dec 1999, Kathleen Miller wrote:

      You mean, when you heard the unfamiliar British phrase, it took a
while for the penny to drop?

      Bruce D. Boling
      University of New Mexico

> Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 09:02:58 -0500
> From: Kathleen Miller <millerk at NYTIMES.COM>
> Reply-To: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Subject: Re: Brit euphemism...
> On Tue, 7 Dec 1999, Bethany K. Dumas wrote:
> }On Tue, 7 Dec 1999, Bruce Dykes wrote:
> }>I heard one new to me from our London office:
> }>"He's gone to spend a penny."
> }
> }It's not new, it's very old. Under the old currency, it took a large
> }copper penny to open the stall door. I have wondered since 1971 (when
> }decimal cxurrency completely replaced the old currency) if the phrase
> }would survive. I am delighed to see that it has.
> While I was teaching ESL in Poland from 1993-1995, the First Certificate
> books from Longman used the phrase, "to spend a penny." As a dumb American
> it took me a while to figure it out - but if the British aren't using it
> readily, trust that some 80 Polish teenagers are.
> Kathleen Miller
> Research Assistant to William Safire
> The New York Times

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