Q: "oil the dog's wig"?

Dennis Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Tue Jan 22 13:42:44 UTC 2008

Danged if I don't remember "wax your ass" too (Southern Illinois,
Indiana, Louisville area - 1950's). The homophony of "whacks" and
"wax" for many nonstandard speakers makes me wonder about some
historical contamination.


>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Charles Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU>
>Subject:      Re: Q:  "oil the dog's wig"?
>I am reminded (somehow) of an expression prevalent in my youth in
>Texas in the 1960s: to "wax (someone's) ass," meaning 'administer a
>sound beating'. It's probably in HDAS, but I own only one copy
>(alas), which is at home, where I am not . . . .
>---- Original message ----
>>Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2008 19:18:42 -0800
>>From: Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
>>Subject: Re: Q:  "oil the dog's wig"?
>>"Dog" undoubtedly = S.O.B.  To "oil his wig" might mean to beat him
>>on the head, possibly till blood flowed.
>>   JL
>>"Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET> wrote:
>>Is this of any interest, and how is it explained?
>>In the 1784 _The Whimsical Jester: or, Rochester in High Glee_,
>>there is a bit on jargon that allegedly "flew about" on the
>>occasion of a boxing-match. One item is from the barber's speech:
>>"oil the dog's wig for him".
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
Morrill Hall 15-C
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48864 USA

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

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