Phrase: none of your funeral (antedating 1850 July 6) also shift in semantics

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Tue May 10 09:03:53 UTC 2011

Laurence Horn wrote
>> Speaking of which, how about "It's your funeral", with the usual
>> current rhetorical force?

Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> Common when I was a kid, but I haven't heard it in many years.
> The orig. sense seems to have been "It's your affair" rather than "It's your
> opportunity to destroy yourself."
> Lowdown in HDAS.

Laurence Horn wrote
>(+ "You'll be sorry!")

Thanks to LH and JL for mentioning this expression and pointing to
HDAS. The OED has two phrases reflecting the shifting semantics:

funeral, adj. and n.
Phrases Orig. U.S. slang.
1. none of your (our, etc.) funeral : no affair of yours (ours, etc.),
nothing to do with you (us, etc.).

2. your ((etc.) funeral : your (etc.) affair or concern (often with an
implication of unpleasant consequences).

The first cite in HDAS and OED is dated 1854 for the early phrase.
Below is an instance in 1850.

Cite: 1850 July 6, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Odds and Ends, Page 3,
Column 2, Cleveland, Ohio. (GenealogyBank)

A queer remark was made by an urchin of five
years, who had lost a sister by death, to a neigh-
bor who was a tending the funeral. "What
are you crying for?" said the little fellow to the
latter, who was weeping, "its none of your

The fist cite for Phrase 2 is:
1908    S. E. White Riverman vii. 60   However, it's your funeral.
Come on, if you want to.


[Also, in an ad for suits:]
Nearly Over! You'll probably never have such a chance again....
It's your funeral if you don't come.;words=funeral+It+your
The morning times. (Washington, D.C.) 1895-1897, July 31, 1895, Image 2
July 31, 1895, Page 2, Image 2 col. 6-7

Stephen Goranson

The American Dialect Society -

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