Antedating of "Been There, Done That" (UNCLASSIFIED)

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Oct 10 01:52:42 UTC 2008

I don't whether this matters to the current thread, but as Fred's cite
suggests, IME, the bare BTDT is a lot older than the
BTDT-bought-the-T-shirt version, which has which has always struck me
as somewhat phoney, since "bought the T-shirt" pretty much restricts
the saying to rock shows, as opposed to extending it to life in


On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 3:49 PM, Benjamin Zimmer
<bgzimmer at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Antedating of "Been There, Done That" (UNCLASSIFIED)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 2:56 PM, Mullins, Bill AMRDEC
> <Bill.Mullins at> wrote:
>> But what about "BT, DT, bought/got the t-shirt"?
>> "Kids will be kids . . . even when they're actors"
>> Toronto Star, The (Ontario, Canada) - May 14, 1993 p.C1
>> Author: Rita Zekas
>> "Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. "
>> "Bickerstaff's job far from complete"
>> Mark Kiszla. Denver Post. Denver, Colo.: Apr 23, 1995. pg. B.01
>> "But Mutombo has been there, done that, bought the T-shirt."
>> "A watery tale of blues, boats and bacon butties - Freud on Friday"
>> Times, The (London, England) - March 26, 1993  p. 40
>> Author: Clement Freud
>> "In the front of the press launch stood photographers carrying huge
>> lenses; at the rear, wrapped against the elements, sat the elders,
>> knowledgeable men who had been there, done that, got the T-shirts. "
> [snip]
> The OED entry for "there' (April 2001 draft additions) has:
> 1991 Ski Surv. (BNC) Feb., Knee Injuries. Rosemary Burns has been
> there, done that and got the T-shirt. She gives fellow sufferers her
> sympathy and sound advice.
> --Ben Zimmer
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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