Blow smoke up someone's ass

Margaret Lee mlee303 at YAHOO.COM
Tue Jul 28 08:35:36 UTC 2009

I know it as "blow smoke in someone's face," meaning to brag about oneself to another.

--Margaret Lee
--- On Tue, 7/28/09, Sam Clements <SClements at NEO.RR.COM> wrote:

From: Sam Clements <SClements at NEO.RR.COM>
Subject: Re: Blow smoke up someone's ass
Date: Tuesday, July 28, 2009, 1:35 AM

I think we have to wait for the next volume of HDAS.  "smoke"

sam clements

----- Original Message -----
From: "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
Sent: Monday, July 27, 2009 20:00
Subject: Re: Blow smoke up someone's ass

> Michael Sheehan wrote:
>> Need to know the actual origin of "to blow smoke up someone's ass." The
>> story about 18th c. tobacco smoke enemas seems highly dubious, but it's
>> all over the place.
> --
> These enemas really were applied, but it's questionable whether they
> have any relevance to the phrase origin in question. The sense
> development is not what one would expect, since the tobacco-smoke enema
> was intended for good ends, for reviving the drowned, curing intestinal
> ailments, etc., not for frivolous or deceptive purposes.
> It seems to me that "blow smoke" usually means "bullshit" or "speak
> falsely/deceptively". Cassell slang dictionary says "confuse", "mystify
> through speech", "boast","brag", "flatter".
> Is the form with "up [someone's] ass" the original form of the phrase,
> or was "blow smoke" alone the original form? The Cassell book dates the
> short form about 100 years earlier than the lengthened 'intensified'
> form with "ass", and this is plausible according to my naive notions,
> but I don't know what the evidence is, if any.
> Assuming that the original was simply "blow smoke", various
> origin-candidates occur to me:
> (1) "blow smoke" (like "produce a smokescreen") metaphoric for "confuse"
> or so;
> (2) "[just] blowing smoke" = "producing [only] something
> useless/uninformative from one's mouth" (cf. "[just] whistling 'Dixie'");
> (3) from the practice of blowing smoke to confuse/pacify bees.
> Probably there are other candidates.
> What does HDAS have?
> -- Doug Wilson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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