Sunday throat

bruce d. boling bboling at UNM.EDU
Tue Jan 29 18:05:29 UTC 2002

     The expression is alive and thriving in my everyday speech (ultimately
NW Missouri), where it refers to matter going down the windpipe when it
should have gone down the "other throat."  The resultant gagging and
sputtering evokes the comment "it/something went down my/your Sunday
throat."   The explanation proposed below (Sunday : weekday :: special,
unusual : ordinary) I think is correct--it certainly corresponds to
the explanation given me by my mother in the far-off days of childhood when
I asked her "what's a Sunday throat?"

Bruce D. Boling
University of New Mexico
bboling at

--On Tuesday, January 29, 2002, 11:11 AM -0500 "Douglas G. Wilson"
<douglas at NB.NET> wrote:

>> 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 throat.>>
> 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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list