up the yin-yang

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Sep 28 20:29:30 UTC 2011

On Sep 26, 2011, at 4:27 AM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:

> On Sep 26, 2011, at 1:19 AM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>> On Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 2:13 AM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at ix.netcom.com> wrote:
>>> 1976
>> And it was already in use sixteen years earlier, when I first heard
>> it. My impression is that I first heard it in 1960 not because it was
>> new, but because I hadn't had sufficient social interaction with
>> college-grade white guys before that year. I don't think that the
>> phrase ever gained any traction among blacks. But, of course,
>> Youneverknow.
>> I recall "up the ying-yang" as the catchphrase of a former
>> barracksmate who retired a few years ago from the U of Chi as Deputy
>> Dean of Students and Dean of Services.
>> That was Ed Turkington, all 6'8" of him, if there are any U of Chi
>> readers wondering who I mean.
> Thank you for this follow-up. Although both variants sound fine to me, "yin-yang" is, I think, the one I use and I didn't do a search for "up the ying-yang."

I definitely remember it as "up the ying-yang", as opposed to the actual dualistic terms in Taoist and Confucianist philosophy.  Early or mid-1960s sounds about right to me, but it could have been already lurking around elsewhere at the time.

> Google Books has 1968.
> "A sense of dark," by William Malliol, Atheneum, page 47, http://ow.ly/6ECoj
> -----
> Quillan said, "Boy, hava-yes-sheba-sheba last night up the ying-yang!"
> -----
> Benjamin Barrett
> Seattle, WA
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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