Duck soup

Jan Ivarsson TransEdit jan.ivarsson at TRANSEDIT.ST
Sun Sep 1 09:52:07 UTC 2002

As "duck soup" seems not to have been discussed before, these finds on Google may be of interest to someone:  has:
'Unfortunately, not everything is possible in the world of English etymology, and a search for the origins of "duck soup" soon runs aground on a simple lack of evidence. According to The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, the phrase "duck soup" first appeared in a newspaper cartoon drawn by T.A. Dorgan in 1902, and showed up again in a work by someone named H.C. Fisher in 1908. (That second citation may interest your professor. On page 35 of "A. Mutt," we find "Attorney Shortribs announced that it would be duck soup to clear their client.")
Not only is the precise origin of "duck soup" unclear, but I'm afraid that the original logic of the phrase remains obscure as well. Is "duck soup" easy because ducks are easy to shoot (as in "sitting duck"), or because ducks are very greasy and thus easily rendered into soup? Or is the phrase a play on the fact that any spot of water with a resident duck is already "duck soup"? Your guess is as good as mine. The classic 1933 Marx Brothers film "Duck Soup" (probably responsible for boosting the popularity of the phrase quite a bit) begins with a shot of ducks paddling around in a soup cauldron.'

Earlier than the Marx brothers were Laurel & Hardy, according to :
'Why the title Duck Soup? [Earlier in 1927, director Leo McCarey had made a two-reel Laurel and Hardy film with the same title.] The film's title uses a familiar American phrase that means anything simple or easy, or alternately, a gullible sucker or pushover. Under the opening credits, four quacking ducks (the four Marx Brothers) are seen swimming and cooking in a kettle over a fire. Groucho reportedly provided the following recipe to explain the title: "Take two turkeys, one goose, four cabbages, but no duck, and mix them together. After one taste, you'll duck soup for the rest of your life." '

Jan Ivarsson
jan.ivarsson at

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