[Ads-l] went for a burton, slight antedating?

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Nov 30 13:30:27 EST 2018

Slight antedating of the antedating - Pascal Treguer cited the Sketch, 
July 30, 1941 in a blog post about the origins of "To Go for a Burton" 
in December 2017:


I found a letter to the editor in an Australian newspaper that offered 
an alternate explanation in 1978.  It suggested that a "burton" was a 
piece of rigging on a sailing ship, and that the expression, "gone for a 
burton," to explain why a sailor was missing from his post, was common 
in naval parlance before the phrase was picked up by the RAF in WWII, 
and that the association with the ale was later.  (There is a second, 
alternate explanation given, but that one seems more far-fetched)


A burton was in fact a piece of rigging someone might go looking for, 
but I couldn't quickly find any early examples of the expression in 

------ Original Message ------
From: "Stephen Goranson" <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
Sent: 11/30/2018 4:48:01 AM
Subject: went for a burton, slight antedating?

>---------------------- Information from the mail header 
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
>Subject:      went for a burton, slight antedating?
>British Newspaper Archive OCR (unconfirmed) gives:
>... last Canadian went for a Burton in the drink, I believe. Naturally, 
>I r=
>eckon he 's kinda mixed up in words. When will he be back I ask. When 
>will =
>who be back The English boy looks a bit puzzled, see. Why, the Canuck 
>who '=
>s gone for a drink, ...
>Published: Wednesday 30 July 1941
>Newspaper: The 
>County: London, England
>Type: Illustrated | Words: 1123 | Page: 25 | Tags: 
>Byw, *if* there are not early uses of "to have a burton" and "to get a 
>on," then does that throw (more) shade on the Burton ale proposal? This 
>te may also present the gone for a drink reading as mistaken, eh?
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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