"pluperfect hell"

Geoffrey Nunberg nunberg at ISCHOOL.BERKELEY.EDU
Wed Apr 15 17:36:58 UTC 2009

Can anybody help with this one? Google Book gives a number of hits for
"pluperfect hell," none earlier than God's Little Acre; e.g.,

BILLY Now give yourself pluperfect hell. Jerry Wald et al., "Brother
Rat" (play), 1936

If the President did not know what was going on around him, he should
have found out pretty quickly, even, as Ervin said, if he had to raise
"pluperfect hell" and call in John Mitchell and Maurice Stans and
demand an explanation." Paul R. Clancy, Just a Country Lawyer, 1974

What's the source of this? Is it regional?


Begin forwarded message:

> From: "Glass, Loren D" <loren-glass at uiowa.edu>
> Date: April 15, 2009 7:53:46 AM PDT
> To: "nunberg at berkeley.edu" <nunberg at berkeley.edu>
> Subject: pluperfect
> Dear Professor Nunberg,
> I’m hoping you can answer a question for me about Erskine Caldwell’s
> bestselling novel God’s Little Acre, about which I’m writing an
> article.  The main character in the text uses the word “pluperfect”
> as a euphemism for “fucking” (as in “Why in the pluperfect hell did
> you do that?”).  I’ve not been able to find any reference to this
> use of this term in any other work, nor is it mentioned in
> dictionaries of slang.  Are you familiar with it?
> Thanks for your help.
> Sincerely,
> Loren Glass
> Associate Professor of English
> University of Iowa
> 464 EPB
> Iowa City, IA  52242

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