"right back at you"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Aug 22 03:56:54 UTC 2012

Watching "Guilty Hands", a 1931 movie with a "perfect crime" theme shown on TCM, I was wondering about an exchange between the Richard Grant, the murderer (and former D.A.), played by John Barrymore, and the chief of police (an old colleague of his) whom he welcomes to his house, where the murder has just taken place.  Grant/Barrymore, coming down the stairs, cheerfully greets him:

Richard Grant: "Well, well, well, Bill Mott!"
Bill Mott:        "Right back atcha, Dickie!"

I didn't realize this use of "Right back at you" (or "atcha", with allegro palatalization) was around in 1931.  Anyone know when it began?


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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list