Antedating of "can't fight his way out of a paper bag"

Hugo hugovk at GMAIL.COM
Mon Oct 21 11:26:10 UTC 2013

"to be unable to fight (also punch) one's way out of a paper bag" (OED: 1955)


Here's a May 1916 in Our Navy, the Standard Publication of the U.S. Navy ("Athletics: Will We Ever Have a Navy Champion?" by "Heinie", page 50):

About that time Luther McCarty, who had trimmed them all, looked good, but he collapsed in the ring with Arthur Pelkey. We won't say Pelkey finished him, because Pelkey can't hit hard enough to fight his way out of a paper bag.


A 1921 and 1922 here:


The American Dialect Society -

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