"don't hold me to that" = "don't blame me for that"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Aug 6 21:31:49 UTC 2009

At 4:33 PM -0400 8/6/09, Mark Mandel wrote:
>Just heard on WHYY, in an interview with a dermatologist who has
>founded a prospering chain of tattoo removal shops called "Dr.
>Tatoff". The quotes are approximate.
>Interviewer: What about the lower back tattoo? You said there's an
>interesting name for that.
>Dr. Richard Kirby: (chuckle) That's called a "tramp stamp". I didn't
>make that up, so don't hold me to that.
Actually, I read this as 'Don't hold me to that'.  I guess it depends
on what one is being held responsible for; in this case, it's for the
meaning of "tramp stamp", which the dermatologist is saying he didn't
invent.  I'm not sure other instances of "Don't blame me" could be
referred to in the same way.  So although it's a more specific kind
of responsbility involved, I don't see this as an actual meaning
change for the expression in question.  (He *could* have cited the
candidacy of "tramp stamp" for one of the ADS WOTY categories a few
years ago; can't recall if it was a winner.)


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