forty-five = Jew?

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Wed Oct 9 10:39:19 UTC 2013

>From the N Y Times:

In his book “Anglomania,” Ian Buruma writes about his grandparents, German Jewish immigrants who became British, felt British, loved Britain — and yet. He writes: “Instead of using the word ‘Jew’ in public we would say ‘forty-five.’ The origin of this odd phrase is unknown. When Bernard was refused a senior position in a famous hospital in 1938, he wrote to Win: ‘It is the old, old story — (45).”’

I hadn't heard this before. In the book, the sentence before the quote above: "Like all families ours had its private expressions and code words." So maybe it was quite limited.

Stephen Goranson

The American Dialect Society -

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