HDAS: another undocumented/undocumentable antedating

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 25 23:03:47 UTC 2010

While thinking about old, hamburger slang from my Army years, I
recalled _get hat_ = "leave (out)." Sure enough, it's in HDAS,
referred to _hat_, where the phrases, get hat, get a hat, grab hat,
grab a hat, are cited. Since my experience is restricted to the use of
"get hat," I'll stick to that. HDAS has 1966. I first heard it used by
hamburgers in Germany in January, 1961. That is, almost as soon as I
had deplaned - excuse me, "_off-loaded_ the [MATS] aircraft" - (I was
almost as stunned by this, used in the Air Force but not in the Army
at that time, as Greg was by "git _you_ a tray") at Rhein-Main AFB.

IAC, "get hat" was already approaching the end of its shelf life then.
By March, 1961, "hat up" had replaced it, to the extent that, by
November, 1961, I was hearing "hat up" used by the Amsterdammers who
hung with us hamburgers. Surprisingly, they - the Dutch - even used
_knock yourself out_ = "help yourself," in my lifetime, never any more
common than straight "help yourself." For some reason that was never
clear to me, it was the custom never to teach any "indigenous
personnel/human resources" either any slang or any dances. If they
learned either through their own efforts, fine. "Hat up" was used
everywhere all the time. Hence, I expected that the Dutch would
eventually become hip to it. But, "knock yourself out" was so rare
that I was shocked to hear it used by a member of the out-group.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"––a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
–Mark Twain

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

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