The things you learn on the OED [was: NPR]

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Sep 2 13:51:14 UTC 2010

At 12:09 AM -0400 9/2/10, Garson O'Toole wrote:
>Joel S. Berson wrote
>>  Apparently known from 1945, before post-war inflation.  The authority
>>  (pace Wilson) says:
>>  With allusion to the (former) price of admission to public toilets.
>>  1945 H. LEWIS Strange Story iv. 27 'Us girls,' she said, 'are going
>>  to spend a penny!' [And so on.]
>An instance of the expression crossed the pond quickly. Journalist A.
>J. Liebling used it in a New Yorker short story also in 1945. It was
>collected in The Best American Short Stories 1946, ed. Martha Foley.
>1945 September 29, The New Yorker, "Run, Run, Run, Run" by A. J.
>Liebling, Page 24, Column 2, F-R Pub. Corp.
>"Brownie got a brushoff from a society dame at a bottle club in
>London," Barry said. "She said she was going to spend a penny and she
>never came back. He's been a militant proletarian ever since."

But note the locale of the incident in question.  Still seems
relevantly transpondic rather than cispondic to me.  Presumably
Brownie, if not British herself, was tailoring her utterance to her


The American Dialect Society -

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