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

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Aug 16 19:55:22 UTC 2015

Cf. Housman's justifiably long-popular "Terence, this is stupid stuff"
(pub. 1896):

"Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
Or why was Burton built on Trent?"


On Sun, Aug 16, 2015 at 2:01 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)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> More data: Below is an explanation for the slang expression "He's gone
> for a Burton" printed in a Winnipeg, Canada newspaper in September
> 1944.
> Date: September 16, 1944
> Newspaper: The Winnipeg Tribune
> Newspaper Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
> Article: Toast and Tea
> (Advertisement for Jas. Barclay & Company, Walkerville, Ontario)
> Author: J. V. McAree
> Quote Page 3, Column 1
> [Begin excerpt]
> One explanation of its origin is that it first gained currency among
> English soldiers who were not satisfied with the beer that was
> provided in their canteens. Those who really wanted a strong glass of
> beer insisted on having Burton's and when it was not available at camp
> they would walk a considerable distance, if necessary, to the nearest
> pub.
> They would return in various stages of exhilaration, some
> incapacitated, some helpless. So it came to mean that a man who had
> gone for a Burton was in no immediate shape to perform his duties; he
> might be, as we say,dead to the world, and eventually the phrase came
> to mean death.
> [End excerpt]
> Garson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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