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

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Oct 9 17:39:49 UTC 2011

"Spend a penny" couldn't be a pun on "p." could it?


On Sat, Oct 8, 2011 at 7:53 PM, Garson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "spend a penny" -- the TLS is at it again.
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Douglas G. Wilson wrote
>> Somebody has made the assertion or speculation (I saw it on-line but I
>> can't find it now) that "bum-taffy" was a deliberate malapropism
>> referring to Daffy's Elixir, an old laxative (which has a Wikipedia page).
> The following book in GB that provides explanations for "Winisms" also
> connects "bum-taffy" to the specific item "Daffey's Elixir, a
> laxative"
> Title: Bulletin of the New York Public Library.
> Author: New York Public Library.
> Publisher: New York, New York Public Library.
> Volume: 68
> Year: 1964
> (Google Books snippet view; Data not verified may inaccurate;
> HathiTrust has also has a match for "bum-taffy" in the same Volume 68
> and claims the year is 1964)
> <Begin extracted text>
> buckled, crisped and curled long hair, Ba, Jo, K, OED.
> bumbeseens. a Winism for bombasin or bombasine, a cloth made of silk
> and cotton, Ba, Jo, K, OED. It may also be a Winism for a dress made
> of this material,
> bum-taffy, a Winism for a dose of Daffey's Elixir, a laxative,
> carrying-crow, a Winism for carrion crow.
> changing, "to put one thing in the place of another," K. Often used
> with chopping.
> <End extracted text>
> http://books.google.com/books?id=H7kqAQAAIAAJ&q=taffy#search_anchor
> Garson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list