"Throw the Bums Out"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu May 6 15:14:16 UTC 2010

Since childhood I've associated "Throw the bum [sic] out!" especially with


1941 Richards Vidmer, N.Y. Herald Tribune, in _Wisconsin State Journal_
(Oct. 10) 20: The World Series can be summede [sic] up by a story that
circulated in the press box as the scene shifted to Ebbetts Field....

A stranger wandered into a Brooklyn bar feeling no pain and good will toward

Then with a magnificent gesture he lifted his glass and with a beaming
smile, in a loud voice, he said:

"May the best team win."

Whereupon the mob leaped upon him with snarls of anger and shouts of "T'row
de bum out!" And when he woke up in the hospital he realized that even
Brooklyn had no doubts about which was the better team.

IIRC, the phrase was more typically applied to opposing players.

GB indicates that the Communist _Daily Worker_ ran an anti-McCarthy
editorial in 1954 under the headline, "Throw the Bum Out!"

No complete or direct view of a source is offered.

As a political byword, "Throw the bums out!" sounds to me like something
from only [sic!] the last fifteen or twenty years.


On Thu, May 6, 2010 at 10:25 AM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu>wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      "Throw the Bums Out"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Someone asked me today about the origin of the phrase "throw the bums out."
>  This is an important political expression, but in a few minutes of research
> I don't see it in The Yale Book of Quotations or the OED or Safire's
> Political Dictionary.  I haven't yet run it through the databases.  Is
> anyone able to supply any information about early uses?
> Fred Shapiro
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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