Sunday throat

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Tue Jan 29 16:11:47 UTC 2002

>Could I trouble the list again? Another subscriber has asked about
>the phrase "Sunday throat" for windpipe. My draft reply says:
> > It's hardly common, to judge from the few references that have
> > turned up, though it does still seem to be known today, and it's
> > certainly American in origin.
> >
> > The two places in which I've definitively managed to track it down
> > are both books from the early part of the twentieth century. One
> > is The Lure Of The Dim Trails by B M Bower, dated 1907: "Hank was
> > taken with a fit of strangling that turned his face a dark purple.
> > Afterward he explained brokenly that something had got down his
> > Sunday throat - and Thurston, who had never heard of a man's
> > Sunday throat, eyed him with suspicion". The other is from The
> > Eskimo Twins, by Lucy Fitch Perkins (1914): "The water went down
> > his 'Sunday-throat' and choked him!".
> >
> > Apart from this, I'm at a total and complete loss. Why "Sunday"?
> > Can anybody explain?
>Can anyone add anything to this?

There are a very few current examples on the Internet. Here is one from
Usenet, Nov. 2001:

<<I start to devour my sheesh tawook, and then damn near choke on a fucking
chicken bone.  Damn thing gets stuck edgewise about half way down my Sunday

Why "Sunday"? I can make a speculative explanation, although I've never
heard the expression and I can't find it in any of my handy books.

Attributive "Sunday" = "special", as in "Sunday best [clothes]", "Sunday
shirt" = "special/clean shirt [for church]", "Sunday name" (esp. Scots) =
"formal name" ... also "Sunday face" = "sanctimonious face/expression".

The sense extends from "special" to "alternative". Thus the Sunday suit is
distinct from the everyday suit. Also note "Sunday face" (e.g., in Farmer
and Henley) = "buttocks" (slang), i.e., the "other face". So the "Sunday
throat" is the "other throat", i.e., the trachea rather than the
(o)esophagus ... i.e., the throat which is less usually employed in eating.

MY mother would say "the wrong pipe".

-- Doug Wilson

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