killed to death

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun Apr 20 16:58:21 UTC 2008

Well, you know what they used to say:

"An Irishman is a nigger turned inside out."

In these more modern times, the saying has become, in California, at least:

"A Mexican is a nigger with his brains blown out."


On Sun, Apr 20, 2008 at 12:41 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
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>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>  Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: killed to death
>  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 4/20/2008 11:01 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>  >Actually, a blast from the past. See OED _kill_, 2c, with exx. from
>  >1362 and ca1400.
>  Interesting.  However, some of the more recent (1670 and following)
>  OED examples seem like intensifiers, where the writer is using the
>  phrase for effect.  But that hardly seems necessary in the Bullock quote.
>  >   Plus:
>  >
>  >   1858 _The British Millennial Harbinger_ XI (3rd Ser.) (Nov. 1)
>  > 540: Bro. Wallis gets scratched by a stray shot; and he so riddles
>  > his dummies, that our trans-channel friends [in Ireland] might
>  > pronounce them "kilt to death."
>  >
>  >   Google Books has two or three more of these, all seemingly Irish.
>  Is the Web author Irish also?  I hate to say anything negative about
>  the Irish, but ... Hawthorne comments about a report of an incident
>  in which an Irishman cut off his own head with a scythe, "we may at
>  least allow, that if any man could cut off his own head, it would
>  certainly be an Irishman."  (This may not be Hawthorne's own
>  conclusion, but a paraphrase from his source.)
>  Joel
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>  The American Dialect Society -

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
 -Sam'l Clemens

The American Dialect Society -

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