Magicians' words

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Apr 28 19:14:04 UTC 2004

>I have "PRESTO CHANGE." as the headline to a story from the NY
>Herald of May 26, 1842, p. 2, col. 6.  I did not make a note as to
>the contents of the story.
>George A. Thompson
>Author of A Documentary History of "The African
>Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.
>----- Original Message -----
>From: Michael Quinion <TheEditor at>
>Date: Wednesday, April 28, 2004 4:47 am
>Subject: Re: Magicians' words
>,,,> Yes, indeed; I interpreted "traditional" deliberately rather loosely.
>>  Others in the list may be relatively modern, too, such as "alakazam"
>>  (early 20th century, at that time meaning "excellent", whose magical
>>  associations seem to date only from the time of the TV cartoon series
>  > "The Land of Alakazam", which started in 1960) and "presto chango"
>  > (which I've found no further back than the 1920s). ...

I've always assumed this would have to be "presto change-o", to
prevent it from rhyming with Django.


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