fun with phrases
aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 20 01:17:07 UTC 2011
A very slightly modified expression from 1965. (Bonus: whole enchilada;
no OED entry for coin laundry--both whole enchilada and coin-operated
are dated to 1960)
Saturday Evening Post. Volume 238. 1965 [Not sure about the volume, but
the date is likely correct.]
p. 29 [?]
> There is also, the driver assured us, "a guy who gives Mass in
> sneakers." And in Avalon I saw with my ow eyes such things as Kelly's
> Taco, June's Mad Clothes and Antiques, a coin laundry with coin
> hair-dryers ad a gift shop heavily booby-trapped with signs saying,
> "IF YOU BROKE IT, YOU'VE BOUGHT IT."
> The Beautification situation in the upper or clifftop section of
> Avalon, as our driver explained it, is that "the buildings have gotta
> conform to the Spanish style. The stucco, and the tile and the chicken
> wire--the whole /enchilada/."
New Campus Writing 1965 [GB says 1966, but cover image looks like 1965.
Publication is an irregular serial. library catalogs list volume 5 as 1966.]
> Sign in the "Trade Winds Gift and China Shop" reads, "If you break it
> you've bought it!"
> Sign in brothel: "All purchases are final."
Similar sign in 1969.
Practical family and marriage counseling. By Calvert Stein. Springfield,
> (Sign in gift shop: "If you break it, you've bought it.")
Same sign in 1970.
A First Book of Antiques. By Cyril Bracegirdle. London: 1970
> There will sometimes be notices telling you that 'If you break it
> you've bought it!' It is not a good idea to start your career as an
> antique collector by carelessly sweeping your coat or waving an arm
> and smashing to the floor a piece of seventeenth-century Meissen
Another, rhyming variation from 1970.
The underground revolution: hippies, yippies, and others. By Naomi
Feigelson. 1970 [WorldCat agrees--this is the only edition.]
> The widely publicized opening sale and the motto, "If you break it you
> take it," showed, more than the free merchandise, what the Free Store
> was all about it.
> There are large boxes full of shoes, piles of clothes i a corner,
> racks hung with old dresses and coats, an occasional lamp and piece of
> furniture, piles of unsorted clothes, and two big signs, SALE, and IF
> YOU BREAK IT, YOU TAKE IT.
One more variant:
Moving through here. By Don McNeill. 1970
> A sign read: "If you break it, you've got to take it."
And, Pièce de résistance:
Hobbies. [GB:] Volume 68(7). 1963 [Date appears OK, but needs verification.]
> A good rule, though sometimes impractical of enforcemet, is, "If you
> break it, you bought it."
If we are going to take literal meaning, than we must consider a
The Gospel in All Lands. New York: January 1896
What is a heathen? By Rev. J. C. Hiden. p. 4/2
> To imagine that we can make a Christian out of a Chinaman by
> persuading him to conform to European ideas of dress, personal habits,
> views of education, and what not, all this is not only wild, it is
> fearfully mischievous. It teaches men to think that a little external
> polish, a little of what we please to call "civilization," is part and
> parcel of the religion of Jesus Christ. "There is no veneering in the
> work of God." When the Roman general Mummius was sacking Corinth he
> saw some of his rough soldiers carelessly handling a magnificent Greek
> statue. He warned them to be more careful, "for," said he, "if you
> break it you shall replace it!" Think of it! An arm carved by Phidias
> broken and " restored "by a hewer of cobble stones on a Roman road!
> The thing, however, is no more impracticable than is the substitution
> of some awkward work of modern "culture " for that grandest of all
> statues Christ formed in you, the hope of glory.
Interestingly, this seems to be stock fare for sermons of the day.
The Triumph of the Cross. By E[dward] P[ayson] Tenney. Boston: 1895
Book VI. Christian Philanthropy. 3. Workingmen in Christendom. p. 393
> Our brother was as much mistaken in his premises and his logic as in
> his rhetoric, who affirmed in Trafalgar Square that the iron heel of
> the Christian capitalist was being more tightly twisted around the
> neck of labor. There is not so much a want of sympathy and a purpose
> to do right as want of thinking what is right. The philanthropy of the
> age is constantly seeking for a better arrangement of the business
> world. "True democracy," says President Tucker, li is not the saying
> 'I am as good as you are,' but 'You are as good as I am.'" "What is
> mine is thine," says Christianity, and this is a complete answer to
> the socialist who claims that "What is thine is mine." [1: This is a
> German way of putting it.]
> Christianity takes pride in the disciplined patience wrought into the
> human character of Jesus in the homely toils of a Nazarene carpenter
> shop. Nor can he be called Christian in any sense who is out of touch
> with the hand of labor. Neither can he be called in any sense a friend
> of the people who seeks to alienate men from that religious ideal
> which distinguishes the Christian laborer from his fellows in Africa
> and India and China. "If the rich," says Barnett, "were as generous
> and just as Christ, if the poor were as honest and brave as Christ,
> there would not be much left which socialism could add to the world's
> comfort." [2: Rev, Samuel Barnett, Practicable Socialism, p. 211.
> London, 1888.]
> "If you break it, you shall replace it," quoth Mummius, the Roman,
> when he was sacking Corinth, and saw a soldier handle a Greek statue
> more carelessly than Phidias. He must indeed be bold who desires, in
> Dr. Hale's phrase, "to form of the human race a muss," to obliterate
> every distinction of unique individuality, to pound the Apollo into
It's not elliptic, but it comes rather close to the same idea as one
expressed by "you break it, you bought it".
On 10/19/2011 11:52 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> 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.
> --- _The American Life Collectors' Annual, Vol. 5_, 1965 (snippet)
> Various dealers tell me the thing they dread most in taking valuable
> items to a show is their fumbling by individuals who really have no
> intention to buy. Even when the sign says "You break it, you buy it,"
> they are not stopped. --- ...
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