"Song and dance" from NYC? (1895)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Tue Dec 6 15:28:12 UTC 2005

Perhaps OED and HDAS have better for "song and  dance."
b. fig. A rigmarole, an elaborately contrived story  or entreaty, a fuss or 
outcry. Also attrib. colloq. (orig.  U.S. slang). Cf. sense 4c. 
1895  E. W. TOWNSEND Chimmie Fadden 6 Den, 'is  whiskers gives me a song an' 
dance. 1900  B. MATTHEWS Confident To-Morrow 9 And it  ain't a song-and-dance  
I'm giving you either. 1913  _KIPLING_ 
(http://dictionary.oed.com/help/bib/oed2-k.html#kipling)  Diversity of Creatures (1917) 292, I don't see how this 
song and dance helps us any. 1922  _S.  LEWIS_ 
(http://dictionary.oed.com/help/bib/oed2-l.html#s-lewis)  Babbitt xxxii. 375 George,  what's this I hear about 
some song and  dance you gave Colonel Snow about not wanting to join the 
G.C.L.? 1949  Time 5 Sept. 2/3 Labor Leader  Preble..was not impressed by ‘the song 
 and dance about [Stefan's] mother and sister being persecuted and  murdered’
. 1958  _‘E.  DUNDY’_ 
(http://dictionary.oed.com/help/bib/oed2-d2.html#e-dundy)   Dud Avocado III. vi. 266 If only  he hadn't felt obliged to make such a 
song and dance about it. 1967  _‘S.  WOODS’_ 
(http://dictionary.oed.com/help/bib/oed2-w3.html#s-woods)   And Shame Devil 118 ‘'Appen tha  means well,’ he 
said, his speech suddenly broadened almost out of all  recognition, ‘and 'appen 
tha's joost making a song and dance.’ 1980  J. DITTON  Copley's Hunch  II. 
ii. 132 The Prime Minister wants to make a song and dance about it.
20 March 1897, <i>Mountain Democrat</i> (Placerville,  CA), pg. 3:
<i>Some of the Words and Phrases of the</i>
<i>Tenement House Folk.</i>
A flimsy excuse or transparent lie is called a "song and dance."  "Why didn't 
you keep your engagement? Now don't give me no song and dance," is  an 
example of the use of this queer phrase.
Anything and everything that is done easily or quickly is said to  be done 
"in a walk." Men are said to "get rich in a walk" or to win a boat race  "in a 
walk." That is an expression borrowed from the turf, which has also lent  to 
New York the word "ringer," perhaps the most difficult to explain of all the  
local slang terms, and yet, like all slang, most concise and expressive to all  
who make use of it. A "ringer," in slang, is anything that looks like what it 
is  not; so that if a person is thought to closely resemble Grover Cleveland, 
he is  spoken of as "a ringer on the president," or if he wears a brilliant 
bit of  glass it is said to be "a dead ringer on a diamond." "dead" signifies 
the  utmost, the veriest, that which is absolute.--Harper's Weekly.
30 December 1895, Stevens Point (WI) <i>Daily  Journal</i>, pg. 4:
<i>Restaurant Nomenclature.</i>
The waiter's vocabulary is constantly being enriched. Pigs' feet  will be 
"Trilbies" for evermore, just as surely as frogs' legs are "song and  dance men."
German waiters, as a rule, are not accustomed to use slang, but  they have a 
few abbreviations that are very expressive.
As everyone knows, there can be no greater breach of etiquette or  more 
sorrowful admission of weakness than to order a glass of water in a German  place. 
The restaurant has water to be used in case of fire, but it is never  offered 
to a customer. If he wishes it, he must ask for it. Then the waiter  frowns at 
him and shouts, "Ein Eskimo!"
In one of the oyster houses a man ordered two deviled crabs.
Do you want them hot or cold?" asked the waiter.
"Hot, of course."
The waiter went to a rear counter and roared, "One plate of hot  devils!" and 
a clerical looking gentleman not ten feet away from him nearly fell  out of 
his chair.--Chicago Record.

More information about the Ads-l mailing list