push comes to shove (1924)

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Fri Feb 26 18:37:25 UTC 2010

On Feb 26, 2010, at 8:14 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:

> The latest OED draft entry for "push" has "if/when push comes to
> shove" from 1940. Some earlier cites (the first three are from "The
> Week," by Defender columnist Roscoe Simmons): [1924, 1926, 1931,
> 1932, 1935, 1937]

there are also instances of truncated "push comes to shove", with no
overt "if/when". *huge* number of examples in titles (Twyla Tharp
dance, for example), but some in text:

The United States has no national interests in Georgia; Russia does.
Push comes to shove, we won’t go to war for Georgia and should
therefore not indicate or imply that we would, it makes the Georgian’s
take excessive risks.

also instances of headlines where what's conveyed is 'push has come to

Push comes to shove in Pa. budget process


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

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