fun with phrases

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Oct 24 23:56:35 UTC 2011

Is "new kid (new boy) in town" a precursor?  (well before the eponymous Eagles song, or the Stones' "New Guy in Town")


On Oct 24, 2011, at 6:36 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:

> 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.
> JL
> On Mon, Oct 24, 2011 at 6:09 PM, Garson O'Toole
> <adsgarsonotoole at> 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: 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
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
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