Duck soup

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Sun Sep 1 12:57:28 UTC 2002

>There is, of course, the very popular "duck('s) blood soup" in Polish cooking.

dInIs (who has et it and likes it)

>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

Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics and Languages
740 Wells Hall A
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027 USA
Office - (517) 353-0740
Fax - (517) 432-2736

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