another reversal: "X has got nothing on Y"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Sep 6 03:21:19 UTC 2011

"She's got nothing on Steffi Graf, how quick she plays."

--Patrick McEnroe, ESPN announcer for U.S. Open tonight, describing Caroline Wozniacki's quick pace in serving in tonight's matchagainst Svetlana Kuznetsova .  The point was that the long since retired Steffi Graf had nothing on Wozniacki, not vice versa.  At least that's how I've always heard "X has/had (got) nothing on Y" used: it's always a favorable statement about Y, using X as a standard of comparison, as in John Prine's couplet from "Christmas in Prison", "Wait awhile, eternity/Old mother nature's got nothing on me".


The American Dialect Society -

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