fun with phrases

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 19 17:49:42 UTC 2011

Victor Steinbok
> 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.

Yes, I've seen that variant while searching. But below is the earliest
one I just located in 1952:

Newspaper: Long Beach Press-Telegram
Headline: Sign Language
Section: Parade magazine insert
Page: 21
NArch Page: 95
Date: 1952 March 16
City: Long Beach
State: California
Database NewspaperArchive

In Miami Beach, the Marcia Kaye Gift Shop, located in the Saxony
Hotel, displays rows of fragile gifts with this warning: "If you break
it, you've bought it!"


> 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.
>     VS-)
> 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 -

The American Dialect Society -

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