Query: "like the nitrous"

ronbutters at AOL.COM ronbutters at AOL.COM
Sun Nov 18 21:39:05 UTC 2007

I think this is more likely the intent of the speaker than Ben's suggestion. It clearly means in the context of the news story 'a shot in the arm' and not 'intoxicating'.  But both meanings do seem to be current--and to converge somewhat in the sense of 'stimulant'.

What interested me most was the reporter's treatment of the phrase as one that needed no explanation.
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-----Original Message-----
From: "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>

Date:         Sat, 17 Nov 2007 23:32:47
Subject:      Re: [ADS-L] Query: "like the nitrous"

> > Google didn't prompt the startups, the business owners say, but
> it has given
> > them more hope for success. Google was "like the nitrous," said Ben Willis,
> > who owns HogWaller Outfitters and whose family helped jump-start downtown
> > redevelopment. "They were like getting a big hit of vitamins."
> >
> > I had no idea what "like the nitrous" meant, and my slang dictionaries were
> > no help. Wikipedia says that "the nitrous" is a term for a NO2
> additive used in
> > racing automobiles, which to my mind makes it a specialized kind of jargon,
> > but the N&O treated it like ordinary contemporary American
> English usage, i.e.,
> > they did not explain Mr. Willis's usage, or define the term.
> >
> > My question is, "Is 'the nitrous' a widespread term in
> contemporary American
> > English?" And, if so, is "like the nitrous" a commonplace popular
> saying that
> > could conceivably replace (or run parallel to) "like a shot in
> the arm" (the
> > way that "that sucks" has done with the older "that stinks").
>I would assume "the nitrous" here is the recreational-drug version
>nitrous oxide, often obtained from whipped cream containers (aka
>"whippits" / "whip-its" / "whippets").  Exx of "the nitrous" in this
>Whipped cream charging bottles also dispense the nitrous from whippits.
>I hold the nitrous in as long as it's comfortable, but breathe air
>when I feel the need.
>Apparently he put a plastic bag of the nitrous over his head.
>So, the similative usage "like the nitrous" presumably refers to the
>sense of euphoria caused by the drug -- Google was creating intense
>euphoria among the hopeful business owners.

"Nitrous" presumably refers to nitrous oxide = N2O (the "2"
subscripted), I think.

Nitrous oxide is called "laughing gas", and it is used for euphoria.
But I doubt this is relevant.

I think the above metaphor probably does not involve inhalation but
rather the use of nitrous oxide in enhancing the performance of
internal combustion engines in auto racing, etc. Here's the wiki
article ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrous ... One can see the
"nitrous boost" in movies (e.g., "Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior"): one
"hits the nitrous" [button or whatever, I guess] and the car's power
is suddenly dramatically increased.

This is not so esoteric these days; many local kids have "nitrous
kits" installed in their cars (I am told); it is a relatively
inexpensive way to achieve a huge horsepower increase; maybe I should
get one too ....

I have not encountered this metaphor myself.

-- Doug Wilson

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