"spend a penny" -- the TLS is at it again.

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Oct 6 18:26:13 UTC 2011

At 10/6/2011 01:52 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>And to you too, Joel.
>As special bonus, the phrase seems to have nothing to do with pay toilets.

So, do we have any idea where the penny comes from?

Also, I do wonder whether the context of laxatives suggests
"defecate" as the 1742 meaning rather than "urinate".

>But who could be that skeptical of a two-hundred-year antedating?

Only Jon, who's skeptical of a 15- to 40- year antedating of
"African-American".  :-)


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

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