More on Britishisms in AmE

Charles C Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Tue Oct 2 13:37:37 UTC 2012

It doesn't seem to me that "plumb tuckered out" should be treated as a fixed phrase (in need of having been "coined").  In the South, at least, we could just as well say "plumb exhausted" or "all tuckered out."  That is, neither the adverb "plumb" nor the participle "tuckered out" is uncommon--so there's nothing remarkable about the combination.

Etiological legend:  There's a street at the edge of Athens GA named "Plum Nelly Drive" (the kind of name that calls for "explanation"!).  Long ago, at the end of each day when the field hands would trudge back up the hill toward town, arriving at the road, they would be plumb tired out but nearly home. (You've got to do "dialect" there!).

I have never heard the legend told with the phrase "all tuckered out"; it's invariably "all tired out"--with "tired" pronounced (exaggeratedly) [tard].


From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole [adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Monday, October 01, 2012 11:35 PM


The Phrase Finder website of Gary Martin has a relevant discussion.
The earliest example of the phrase "plum(b) tuckered out" that he
found was in 1871 and the "b" was omitted.

[Begin excerpt]

'Plumb tuckered out' is somewhat later and the first example I have is
from The Atlantic Monthly, November 1871, in a story called Wayside

   She then informed me that the first time she
   had mounted the colt he had nearly bucked her
   to pieces; he had jumped and jounced till she
   was plum tuckered out before he had given up.

[End excerpt]

Perhaps the coiner of the phrase had two objectives:
(1) Construct a future cliche.
(2) Enact a spelling reform.

On Mon, Oct 1, 2012 at 10:01 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: More on Britishisms in AmE
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Mon, Oct 1, 2012 at 3:14 PM, Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at> wrote:
>> "plum"
> You think that it should be spelled "plumb"?
> Me, too.
> --
> -Wilson

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