fun with phrases

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Oct 24 22:36:42 UTC 2011

Great find.

What's interesting is that until American families became more mobile
than ever, in the 20th C., any "new kid on the block" would usually be
an unthreatening new-born - hardly cause for a kid-wide (or cop-wide)
alert. Assuming you even where there were "blocks."

The "new kid on the block" in the proverb is clearly an outsider
trying to muscle in - successfully, it would appear, so far.

The earliest I find in NewspArch (though w/o "Look/watch out!":

1957  INS in _Lebanon [Pa.] Daily News_ (Dec. 14) 8: Bradley and St.
Louis may be the powers of the Missouri Valley again this year, but
they'll have to contend with a tough new kid on the block, Cincinnati.

Most fig. refs.  to a "new kid on the block" in NewspArch, however,
suggest instead - through the 1960s - that the new kid is unsure of
himself, eager to be liked, and is generally picked on by bullies and
(what were then considered to be) "gangs."

Expectations (or urban experiences) seem to have changed considerably
after the '60s.


On Mon, Oct 24, 2011 at 6:09 PM, Garson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: fun with phrases
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>> "Look out X! There's a new Y on the block!"
>> 2,000,000 raw Google hits.  I just heard a Discovery Channel  show
>> from 2005 with  lines something like, "Look out Roswell [?]! There's a
>> new alien on the block!"
>> 1978 _Flying_ (June) 28:  Look out, Goodyear, there's a new blimp on
>> the block. A West German company, Westdeutsch Luftwerbung, has moved
>> its 180-foot-long flying machine to the United States.
>> My own recollection of the phrase doesn't go nearly that far back, but
>> I have encountered it a number of times in advertising contexts.  The
>> 1978 ex. sounds as though it may be playing off an already familiar
>> construction.
> Here is a close variant with "watch out" instead of "look out". The
> words appear in a multi-part headline.
> Cite: 1973 August 5, Springfield Union, Section Leisure Time, Page
> LT-1, [GNB Page 77], Springfield, Massachusetts. (GenealogyBank)
> Watch Out Barbara Walters!
> Smith Graduate Sally Quinn On the Way to Challenge You
> by John Carmody
> Special to The Republican
> Garson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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