"main squeeze": query

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Mon Mar 26 17:57:30 UTC 2001

Just casual remarks.

Chapman's slang dictionary says "by 1896" for "main squeeze" = "most
important person". I think "main guy" may be from about the same time. "Big
cheese" was maybe a little earlier, "big fish" a lot earlier, I think.

As for the "squeeze", the expression doesn't seem to have been pejorative
usually, so the obvious idea of the boss putting pressure on his
subordinate is perhaps NOT involved ... of course I wasn't around ca. 1900
to note how the expression was used then ....

Is it possible that the "squeeze" is from baseball ("squeeze play")? OED
has this from 1905. Maybe the time doesn't work out quite right. I know
nothing about baseball, so I can't judge whether the "squeeze play" was
important enough to permit this generalization.

[There are many other possibilities. US Patent #36,005 (1862) mentions
"main squeeze rollers" (and "auxiliary squeeze rollers") in a cloth-fulling
machine. In pressing oil out of seeds or juice out of grapes, or in milling
grain, there might be a first -- or "main"? -- squeeze followed by less
productive additional pressings. Etc.]

-- Doug Wilson

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