bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Sat Feb 5 02:22:42 UTC 2005
On Fri, 4 Feb 2005 18:25:08 -0500, Wilson Gray <wilson.gray at RCN.COM> wrote:
>On Feb 4, 2005, at 4:51 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> forwarded from the Yale Rabbi via a colleague,. Anyone know?
>> The Rabbi, Jim Ponet, asks:
>> ... explain if you will the structure "Not to worry." Does it emulate
>> anything Yiddish. Then there's "to kill for," "to die for."
>> It does follow a Hebrew structure arguable. But I doubt that origin.
>> --- end forwarded text
>FWIW, I've always considered "not to worry" to be an annoying Briticism.
The usage books agree that the expression originated in the UK.
The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. 1993.
<not to worry>
was originally a British English idiom, meaning "don't worry," "never
fear," but it's now beginning to appear in Conversational and Informal
The OED3 draft entry for "not" has this note under sense 5a(c):
(c) colloq. <not to -->: do not --.
Webster's Dict. Eng. Usage (1989) 670-1 noted the uncommonness of the
phrase <not to worry> in American English, and its disapproval by some
commentators, but U.S. examples are not uncommon from the later 1980s
Newspaperarchive finds scattered US usage in the '60s, e.g.:
Lima News (Ohio), May 25, 1962, p. 20/2
"You're not here under arrest. You can leave when the hospital will
release you. Mrs. Barrett said she would look after your pets. Not to
[from the serialized version of _One for My Dame_ by Jack Webb]
Salisbury Times (Md.), May 21, 1964, p. 6/2
Not to worry. Don't worry about anything. Go a-Maying. Like us.
For the most part, early cites for "not to worry" appear in British or at
least European contexts. (It probably entered Canadian English first.)
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