I got your number

Paul Frank paulfrank at POST.HARVARD.EDU
Tue Nov 9 19:44:43 UTC 2010

Maybe it's just my looking up skills, but I don't find "I got your
number," meaning "I know what you're up to" in any of my English
dictionaries, including the OED. It's defined here:

"US: since c. 1912. Cited by S.R.Strait in his merry verses (‘Straight
Talk’) in the Boston Globe in c. 1917, it means ‘I see what you
mean-or are up to’ and was, by 1960, almost †. But J.W.C. reported,
1977, that ‘up to’ nuance was then still current."

Here's a recent example from Desperate Housewives:

"I don't think you should talk to your son that way," protests
Lynette. Savagely, Barbara turns and hisses, "What do you care? Huh?
What is he, your pet project? You feed him a little dinner, Lynette,
and you let him play your stupid games so you can feel good about
yourself? Yeah, I got your number."


Paul Frank
Chinese, German, French, Italian > English
Espace de l'Europe 16
Neuchâtel, Switzerland
paulfrank at bfs.admin.ch
paulfrank at post.harvard.edu

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

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