Jokes as Sources of Phrases

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Wed Oct 23 10:22:52 UTC 2002

On Wed, 23 Oct 2002, Jonathon Green wrote:

> 1968 Legman Rationale of the Dirty Joke (1972) vol. 1 199:
> A little rabbit whose method with his girlfriends is 'Wham bam, thank you,
> Mam' [Calif. 1942]

So it looks like the phrase may have originated in a joke.  I wonder how
many others had joke origins.  Legman indicates elsewhere that "don't make
waves" originated as the punchline of a scatological joke.  My researches
suggest that "there's no such thing as a free lunch" originated as the
punchline of an economists' joke.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Public Services     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at     

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