[Ads-l] "a coupla three"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 17 03:21:54 UTC 2015

On Wed, Dec 16, 2015 at 7:28 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
> On Wed, Dec 16, 2015 at 6:32 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> > I'd never noticed the phrase in NYC, but encountered it the first day I was
> > in Knoxville.
> >
> I forgot to mention that "a coupla three," spelled as "a couple _or_
> three," is in the UD. The definer claims that the phrase is peculiar to
> *Texas*. And, of course, G. Washington was a Virginian. So, maybe "a coupla
> three" is more a Southern thing than a GenAm thing.
> Youneverknow.

DARE's map for "couple-three" actually shows a mostly Northern distribution:


The entry includes the variations "couple or three", "couple of
three", and "couple a three". It's earliest cite, from the 1935 novel
_Honey in the Horn_ by Harold Lenoir Davis (an Oregonian), is for
"couple or three":

1935 Davis _Honey_ 1 OR, There was a run-down old tollbridge station .
. where Uncle Preston Shiveley had lived for fifty years, outlasting .
. a couple or three invasions of land-hunting settlers.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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