Early example of "crap out"?
sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM
Sun Mar 25 00:05:00 UTC 2001
Douglas Wilson writes:
>The game of craps has been around for a long time, and I suppose "crap out"
>(i.e., pass the dice after rolling seven while trying to make one's point)
>has been too. But the expanded meaning of "crap out" seems more recent, as
>in "He crapped out" = "He got tired and quit"/"He went to sleep" or "My car
>crapped out" = "My car stopped running" or "My program ran fine for a while
>but then it crapped out".
>In an 1887 Chesnutt story I came across the following passage.
>[Background: A magical spell (a "goopher") supposedly has been placed on a
>vineyard, so that those who eat the grapes soon die. Now maybe >20 years
>have passed and the vineyard is abandoned and up for sale, most or all of
>the enchanted vines supposedly long dead and replaced by other vines.]
>"En I tell yer w'at, marster, I would n' 'vise yer to buy dis yer ole
>vimya'd, 'caze de goopher 's on it yit, en dey am' no tellin' w'en it 's
>gwine ter crap out."
>My tentative translation: "And I tell you what, master, I wouldn't advise
>you to buy this here old vineyard, because the spell is on it yet, and
>there is no telling when it [i.e., the spell] is going to crap out."
>My initial supposition: this is an early example of the metaphoric "crap
>out", here = "expire"/"become exhausted"/"cease being effective". [This
>general supposition is not invalidated even if one perversely takes the
>last "it" to refer to "vineyard" rather than to "spell"/"goopher".]
>What is it that is seriously wrong with my initial supposition?
>-- Doug Wilson
Wouldn't it be just as reasonable to assume that "crap out" here is just
a dialect spelling of "crop out?" That is, the spell might reassert
itself at any time.
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