? ? ? keep a cow

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Apr 25 12:30:19 UTC 2005

My feeling has always been that "GFY" underlies "GCY," but there is an understandable lack of early written records.

Indeed, I've always felt that "Go fuck yourself" may have developed from "Go frig yourself," since that, in the older sense of "frig," is at least is physiologically possible.


James C Stalker <stalker at MSU.EDU> wrote:
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Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: James C Stalker
Subject: Re: ? ? ? keep a cow

Further thought. Perhaps the base form is "go fuck yourself." By
extension, "go fuck a cow," which I'm sure your dad would never have said or
even have thought of, so the "go + (do) + absurd action" is a euphemistic
substitute. Opens up lots of creative options. Maybe?


Roger Shuy writes:

> on 4/23/05 9:58 AM, RonButters at AOL.COM at RonButters at AOL.COM wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender: American Dialect Society
>> Poster: RonButters at AOL.COM
>> Subject: =?ISO-8859-1?Q?Re:=20=A0=20=A0=20=A0=20keep=20a=20cow?=
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> --> -
>> In a message dated 4/23/05 9:51:30 AM, rshuy at MONTANA.COM writes:
>>> My late father, who would be 101 now if he were still alive, used some
>>> expressions that I've not heard from others. I wonder if any one else has
>>> heard the expression of disgust said to someone else, "Oh, go keep a cow."
>>> He lived all his life in central to northern Ohio.
>>> Roger
>> This seems to me to mean the same thing as "Oh, go fly a kite," which was
>> very common in east-central Iowa in the 1950s. "Oh, go keep a cow" sounds
>> vaguely
>> familiar, but I can't say for sure that any of my grandparents used it (or
>> didn't).
> He also used to say, "Go chase yourself" and I wonder if he was alone in
> this too.
> roger

James C. Stalker
Department of English
Michigan State University

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