"23 skiddoo"

Wed Oct 2 18:04:57 UTC 2002

        While we're waiting for Doug Wilson to produce support for his conjecture, I'd like to point out that it isn't as far-fetched as it might seem.  The original form of the phrase, if the OED citations are any guide, was "take a run-out powder," and the identification of run-out powders with laxatives seems plausible, though of course still conjectural.

        This is hardly an end to the inquiry.  If "take a run-out powder" means "take a laxative and leave to go to the bathroom," we would expect that "run-out powder" would mean "laxative" literally.  As far as I know, that has not yet been demonstrated.  Perhaps Barry can help?  Also, I haven't checked RHHDAS.

        "Take a powder" usually implies the possibility of a later return, so that seems inconsistent with the theory that the powder is a suicidal poison, a theory without any other obvious support.  The "powder room" theory is consistent with the meaning but not with the early "run-out powder" uses.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: Fred Shapiro [mailto:fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU]
Sent: Wednesday, October 02, 2002 12:53 PM
Subject: Re: "23 skiddoo"

On Wed, 2 Oct 2002, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:

> I doubt the "poison" sense here. I tentatively prefer a laxative powder as
> the original sense.

Again, what is your evidence?  And if there is no evidence, what basis is
there for a preference?

Fred Shapiro

More information about the Ads-l mailing list