[Ads-l] "And tell 'em * sent you!"

Tue May 3 14:06:59 UTC 2016

Serious examples must go back at least to the 17th century bawdy-houses, whose proprietors were unwilling to admit their nature unless given the name of an existing customer.  I see examples of this practice (though not the precise phrase) in the anonymous book The London-Bawd:  with Her Character and Life:  Discovering the Various and Subtle Intrigues of Lewd Women (3d ed. 1705) (Gutenberg Books).

The catch-phrase seems to have hit its stride in the 1950s, when speakeasies were still fresh in living memory.  Perhaps its most famous example may be the variant in the song Hernando's Hideaway from the musical The Pajama Game (1954):  "Just knock three times and whisper low That you and I were sent by Joe."

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Peter Morris
Sent: Tuesday, May 3, 2016 1:46 PM
Subject: "And tell 'em * sent you!"

You go up to that place, ring the bell, and give this card 
to the guy that comes to the door. Just tell him Al sent 
you, and he'll fix you up.

1921 (?)   http://tinyurl.com/zd54egn

You're no crabber or piker-I can seen that. You go to 
the North Star. Tell Frank that Jakey sent you. They'll 
treat you white. You be sure and say Jakey sent you; but 
for Gawd's sake keep out of the Big Tent!

Ibid.  http://tinyurl.com/guyl4nu

Jack Doran and the othe boys are down at Tom Murphy's barn 
... go to 'em; say I sent you; say you were spakin' a bit to me,
an' tell 'em the same words I tould you.

1831  http://tinyurl.com/hx9tr29

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

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

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