huffing and puffing

Tue Feb 15 05:14:01 UTC 2005

        Surely you remember the Big Bad Wolf, who huffed and he puffed and he blew the house in of the first two little pigs.  The Three Little Pigs dates back at least to the 1840s.  That said, I should note that neither Making of America database has "huffing and puffing," and I did not find it on Westlaw before 1969, so it is not certain that the phrase had moved from the fairy tale to general use by the mid-Victorian period.  I would say that the book's use of the phrase is suspicious, but by no means dispositive.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
Of neil
Sent: Saturday, February 12, 2005 4:37 PM
Subject: huffing and puffing

I have been lent a book titled '61 Pimlico', supposedly the journal of one
mid-Victorian photographer named Henry Haylor (ed Bill Jay, Nazraeli Press,
Tucson, 1998).

I strongly suspect that it is  fabrication. However, the following sentence
caught my eye, and I wondered if anyone has any evidence of early use of the
phrase 'huffing and puffing'.

'We talked for hours, each of us huffing and puffing away like noisy steam
engines on different tracks until, in the middle of my most eloquent, and
pompous, tirades she closed my mouth with hers.'

-Neil Crawford

More information about the Ads-l mailing list