trait on

Mark A. Mandel mamandel at LDC.UPENN.EDU
Thu May 25 03:41:36 UTC 2006

A friend of mine who teaches in a Philadelphia public school reports hearing
her students (predominantly, or all?, African-American) use "trait on": to
trait on someone is to snitch on them. Evidently a back formation from

Also "fix on" for "fix" = "repair", as in "He fixed on my bike".

And also in Philadelphia, a (white) member of my synagogue* used the
expression "be mad on X" meaning "be mad at X". I had to ask first for a
repetition, and then for an explanation, since I'd never heard the usage and
in context it could equally have meant the opposite: "be mad about X" = "be
crazy about X" = "like X very much".

(* Or it may have been our student rabbi, who is white and about to graduate
from seminary and receive her ordination.)

m a m

The American Dialect Society -

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