"cleaned his clock" Antedating to 1946

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Feb 11 04:01:26 UTC 2006

At 8:57 PM -0500 2/10/06, Jesse Sheidlower wrote:
>On Fri, Feb 10, 2006 at 08:33:42PM -0500, Sam Clements wrote:
>>  I couldn't find anything in the archive, but maybe didn't search enough?
>There was a meta-discussion about it in 2002, when Safire
>wrote a column about it and didn't acknowledge the now-lost
>work Barry did, or the article that Jerry ran in CoE. But
>this discussion didn't itself contain any cites.
Speaking of Safire, what are the odds that he'll be mentioning, next
week perhaps, the recurrence of "balls to the wall" in today's
testimony by "Heckuvajob" Brownie, late of FEMA, about the need for
an all-out response and in the responses by the senators (at least
one of whom, I forget which, turned it into "balls to the walls").

But, as I'm sure Safire will also make clear, "balls to the wall"
doesn't derive from what it sounds like it derives from.  Cf. e.g.


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

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