the other shoe..
fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Fri May 7 02:54:09 UTC 1999
On Thu, 6 May 1999, Bryan Gick wrote:
> I just got a query about the origins of the phrase "waiting for the other
> shoe to drop", but have been unable to find anything on it (outside of Pat
> Oliphant's collection of political cartoons by that title, and lots of
> citations on the web). No previous mention in the ADS-L archives as far as
> I can tell. Any thoughts?
There is surprisingly little documentation of this phrase in lexical or
proverb dictionaries. All I found of substance was Whiting, Modern
Proverbs and Proverbial Sayings, which has a 1975 citation.
My own research turns up "other shoe may never drop" in Mathematics of
Computation 20: 174 (1966). Still earlier, there was an article in the
April 1963 issue of National Civic Review (p. 189) entitled "Awaiting the
As for the phrase's derivation, I believe it comes from a folk-story in
which someone can't fall asleep because he or she heard the noise of one
shoe dropping to the floor beside the bed one floor above them, but never
heard the other shoe dropping.
Fred R. Shapiro Coeditor (with Jane Garry)
Associate Librarian for Public Services TRIAL AND ERROR: AN OXFORD
and Lecturer in Legal Research ANTHOLOGY OF LEGAL STORIES
Yale Law School Oxford University Press, 1998
e-mail: fred.shapiro at yale.edu ISBN 0-19-509547-2
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