fun with phrases

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 19 17:37:45 UTC 2011

The variant I'm most familiar with, aside from the straight "you broke
it, you bought it" is "you break it, you /own/ it" and similar variants.
I vaguely recall a number of pieces disproving the "Pottery Barn Rule"
having anything to do with the Pottery Barn (then division of
Williams-Sonoma). I would place those recollections /before/ Friedman's
alleged coinage, but I would not be able to prove the dates. Snopes
usually dates their posts, so if they have one, it will be dated.

I don't have time to search for details today. If this is not resolved
by late tonight, I might give it a spin.


On 10/19/2011 11:52 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> On Wed, Oct 19, 2011 at 10:32 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> "You broke it, you bought it"
> [...]
>> New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman claims to have coined the
>> term, having used the phrase "the pottery store rule" in a February 12,
>> 2003, column. He has said he referred to Pottery Barn specifically in
>> speeches.
>> ...
>> But there are certainly pre-Friedman metaphorical uses [...]
> One important variant to track is present-tense "You break it, you buy
> it" -- on GB from 1965 (in snippet view), with metaphorical use from
> at least 1976. The 1994 example below seems like an important
> precursor to Friedman's use.
> --
> Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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