Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Dec 12 23:56:46 UTC 2011

On Mon, Dec 12, 2011 at 3:19 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> the OED's statement that … n-g may be a reduplicated form of "gritty"

HowTF is it the case that a random guess is good enough for the
editors of the OED, but a genuine memory is *not* good enough for the
editor of HDAS?!;-)

FWIW, I'm not accustomed to hearing _nitty-gritty_ (uh, _n-g_ means
"no good"; I was momentarily confused) clipped to "nitty." IME, the
normal clip is "*gritty*" and not "nitty." This lends a taste of
credence to the possibility that _nitty-gritty_ *is*, somehow, related
to _grit(ty)_. OTOH, IMO, an ultimate derivation from that Southern
food staple, "grits," is just as possible.

That could account for the expression,

_get nitty-gritty_ "act in a socially-unacceptable manner"

That is, perform actions or display manner(ism)s stereotypical of
those FO[the]B[us] from "the country" - or, these days, from the 'hood
- especially when these annoy or embarrass boojies.

BTW, I've now heard pronunciations like "boo[Z]ie" and "gara[Z]e" in
place of traditional "boo[dZ]ie" and "gara[dZ]e" - in the wild, used
by black teenagers. Collateral damage from desegregation, no doubt.

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 -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list