YBQ in WSJ / "bottle in front of me" (UNCLASSIFIED)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue Oct 7 21:37:34 UTC 2008

On Tue, Oct 7, 2008 at 5:26 PM, Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu>
> On Tue, Oct 7, 2008 at 4:36 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
>> The version attributed to Tom Waits (1977), "Champagne for my real
>> friends, real pain for my sham friends," was familiar to me as a
>> toast a decade earlier.  I have no idea whence it came, but I
>> wouldn't be surprised to learn it had another couple of decades on it.
> And then some!
> 1905 _New York Times_ 15 May 6/2 On moving away one of five small brass
> that hung on this wall and on which were engraved little bon mots such as
> pain for our sham friends and champagne for our real friends."

And here it is from 1876, in an article that traces it all the way back to the
Battle of Lake Erie in 1813 (quoting Mr. John Norris, the last remaining

1876 _Potter's American Monthly_ Feb. 88/2 At a supper that was given on their
return to Kentucky, just after the battle, the phrase, "Here's champagne to our
real friends and real pain to our sham friends," was then for the first time
made use of.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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