[Ads-l] go for a "Burton"--a 1944 etymology guess (UNCLASSIFIED)

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Sat Aug 15 14:27:51 UTC 2015


Any association with "dead man" = "empty bottle (of beer)"?

No obvious association with "Burton", unless Burton was so popular (in the RAF?) that it became the epitome/eponym of beer.

Joel

      From: ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
 To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU 
 Sent: Friday, August 14, 2015 10:04 PM
 Subject: Re: [ADS-L] go for a "Burton"--a 1944 etymology guess (UNCLASSIFIED)
   
Below are excerpts from a letter published in Time magazine in 1943.
It does not mention a beer advertisement, but it does present an
origin tale based on Burton beer.

Date: April 19, 1943
Periodical: TIME
Section: Letters
Letter Author: LEADING AIRCRAFTMAN WM. J. L. GIBBONS Calgary, Alberta
Database: Online Time Magazine Archive

[Begin excerpt; ellipses are present in original text]
A Pukka Gen Wallah Reports
Sirs:
Your comments regarding Royal Air Force lingo (TIME, March 22) were
interesting, but could have been much more so. . . . Some of our
idioms and phrasings . . . that you have chosen are not as universally
used as your article would indicate. For instance, whilst "on a
rhubarb" is used somewhat, the more universal expression is "on a
piece of cake" or "on a piece of duff."
[End excerpt]

[Begin excerpt; ellipses are in original text]
No mention of our slanguage is complete without mention of our most
famous phrasing, and that is the expression "gone for a Burton." When
anything or anybody is through for good, it or he is said to have
"gone for a Burton." ... If one of your "oppos" (universal term for
buddies) is killed, you don't say he was killed, you just say, "Poor
old Joe has gone for a Burton." . . . There is an origin to this
expression. One of the most popular beers in prewar England was Burton
beer. If anyone was wanted and he wasn't around, it was said that he
had "gone for a Burton," for more often than not, he was to be found
in the nearest pub.
[End excerpt]

Garson

On Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 9:34 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:      American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:      ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: go for a "Burton"--a 1944 etymology guess (UNCLASSIFIED)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> It looks like Time magazine published the Burton beer explanation for
> the phrase in 1943. I will try to access the full article and share an
> excerpt.
> Garson
>
> On Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 9:21 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole
> <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>> Sender:      American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:      ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
>> Subject:      Re: go for a "Burton"--a 1944 etymology guess (UNCLASSIFIED)
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>
>> In May 1945 the magazine "Flying" printed a "Letter from London" that
>> discussed a book about slang called "Dictionary of RAF Slang" by Eric
>> Partridge.
>>
>> The article asserted that Partridge's book included the phrase "gone
>> for a Burton" meaning dead.  Further, "Burton" was "a kind of beer".
>>
>> Date: May 1945
>> Periodical: Flying Magazine
>> Article: London Letter
>> Author: Maj. Oliver Stewart (British Authority, Editor of Aeronautics)
>> Start Page 56, Quote Page 140
>> Publisher: Ziff-Davis Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois
>> Database: Google Books Full View
>>
>> Double check for typos.
>>
>> Short link:  http://bit.ly/1LbiDb4
>>
>> https://books.google.com/books?id=lJ5XVVDB3SMC&q=Burton#v=snippet&
>>
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> Eric Partridge's "Dictionary of RAF
>> Slang" (Michael Joseph) is the first work
>> on this subject by a specialist. Mr. Part-
>> tridge, author of "Slang--A Study and a
>> History," "Words, Words, Words" and as-
>> sistant editor of the "American Tramp
>> and Underworld Slang," is serving in the
>> RAF.
>> [End excerpt]
>>
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> Here will be found the meaning and
>> derivation of "bind" (to bore), "gone for
>> a Burton" (dead--a Burton being a kind
>> of beer), "the beer lever" (the control
>> column), "a body snatcher" (stretcher
>> bearer), "a piece of home work" or "a
>> piece of knitting" (a girl friend), and a
>> "fruit salad" (many medal ribbons).
>> [End excerpt]
>>
>> Garson
>>
>> On Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 8:30 PM, Jonathan Lighter
>> <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>>> Sender:      American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>> Poster:      Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
>>> Subject:      Re: go for a "Burton"--a 1944 etymology guess (UNCLASSIFIED)
>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>
>>> A source in GB asserts that the alleged ad did not exist.
>>>
>>> JL
>>>
>>> On Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 4:50 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> 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: go for a "Burton"--a 1944 etymology guess (UNCLASSIFIED)
>>>>
>>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>
>>>> On Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 12:45 PM, Mullins, Bill CIV (US) ADSGarson O'Toole
>>>> <
>>>> adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>>>>
>>>> > roundly rated them
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> For their usances and their Jewish gabardine?
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> --
>>>> -Wilson
>>>> -----
>>>> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
>>>> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
>>>> -Mark Twain
>>>>
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>>>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> --
>>> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>>>
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>>
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>
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