"cleaned his clock" Antedating to 1946

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Feb 11 07:51:28 UTC 2006

On 2/10/06, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> 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.
> http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=19990708

Even better, see:

--Ben Zimmer

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list