Etymology of "Eighty-Six"

Michael Adams madams1448 at AOL.COM
Fri Nov 7 16:04:11 UTC 2008

I've often wondered where evidence of this rhyming slang explanation is. Jesse, can you point us toward it? Or Jonathon Green, maybe, who identifies 86 as rhyming slang in Cassell's. The alternative explanation, for which there is some evidence, is that 86 is part of New York soda counter/diner numerical jargon, where different menu items and other features of restaurant work and life were given numbers back in the day -- all of the lexical items from this set besides 86 have disappeared, but none of those reported is rhyming slang, so I wonder if the rhyming slang explanation isn't folk etymology.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jesse Sheidlower <jester at PANIX.COM>
Sent: Fri, 7 Nov 2008 9:51 am
Subject: Re: Etymology of "Eighty-Six"

On Fri, Nov 07, 2008 at 09:47:42AM -0500, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
> On another list serv there is discussion about the derivation of "eighty-six."
I posted that the rhyming-slang-from-"nix" derivation was unproven.  Am I
correct about this?


Jesse Sheidlower

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