"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>NEW YORK SLANG.</i>
<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:
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.
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