Antedatings in the Yale Book of Quotations -- 16: Funny Peculiar

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Sun Dec 3 18:46:58 UTC 2006

FWIW, I first encountered this as an Ike-era tot while watching the old Ann Sothern _Private Secretary_ show on TV. I'm quite sure the phrasing was "You mean funny ha-ha or funny peculiar?"

  And so it's been for me ever since. Rhetorically effective, since "ha-ha" is the fundamental meaning of "funny."

  No fun intended.


Fred Shapiro <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU> wrote:
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Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Fred Shapiro
Subject: Antedatings in the Yale Book of Quotations -- 16: Funny Peculiar

funny peculiar, funny ha-ha (OED 1938 for both)

1928 Mariel Brady _Genevieve Gertrude_ ch. 7 "Do you mean funny peculiar,
or funny ha-ha?" she inquired politely. ... "Cause," explained his mentor
gravely, "our teacher don't allow us to say funny when we mean peculiar.
It's bad English, you know."

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and YALE BOOK OF QUOTATIONS
Access and Lecturer in Legal Research Yale University Press
Yale Law School ISBN 0300107986
e-mail: fred.shapiro at

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