"Suit to a t-y-t" (and similiar)

Bonnie Taylor-Blake b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM
Sun Nov 4 18:00:44 UTC 2012

Several weeks ago, I had wondered about the appearance of the following in
a 1916 issue of a Kentucky newspaper [1],

"In your last week's editorial you sure did give them the whole six yards
and it did suit us to a T.Y."

After a while I concluded that the last part must've been a play on "suit
to a T" combined with a "thank you."

But apparently not.  (The following examples were easy enough to find in
Google Books.)


1) "How do you like her?" he says to me; Says I, "She suits, to a
't-y-*Tee*'!" [From James Whitcomb Riley, "Tradin' Joe," 1893.]

2) "That'll shoot me to a T-Y-tee, Mrs. McGlaggerty." [From John J.
Jenning's _Widow Magoogin_, 1900.]

3) "That suits me to a tyt.  Waiter, two large gin fizzes, please.  Tell
the man they are for adults."  [From Press Woodruff, "A Successful
Failure," in _A Bundle of Sunshine; An Avalanche of Mirth_, 1901.]



4) Gallup gives my ideas to a "t-y-t."  [From J.W.D. Camp's comment to the
editor, *Gleanings in Bee Culture*, June 1882.]

5) Gee whiz those new cards fit the vest-pocket to a T-Y-T.  Have you got
yours?  [From *The Railroad Telegrapher*, January, 1908.]

6) Mr. Graham:  That is not responsive to the question / Mr. Burch:  I will
try to follow, to a t-y-t.  [From testimony during congressional hearings
on the White Earth Reservation, 2 February, 1912.]

7) I herewith enclose my vote on political discussions in our Journal.
 Jas. P. Gainer of lodge 213 has expressed my sentiments in our last issue
to a T.Y.T.  [From I.O. Garris's letter to the editor in *The Railway
Carmen's Journal*, January, 1913.]

8) I asked him to describe Joe Dillon to me.  He did so, and did it to a
"tyt." [From William H. Ryus, _The Second William Penn:  A True Account of
Incidents that Happened along the Old Santa Fe Trail in the Sixties_, 1913.]

9) Why, I can sit around and figure out a proposition to a T.Y.T., but I
might as well try to eat with my feet as to get up before a gathering and
tell them what I think.  [From W.C. Smith, "Thinking Standing Up," *The
Associated Grower*, April, 1921.]

10) "That's 'Honeyface' to a TYT," he called back.  [From Roger L. Welsch,
_Mister, You Got Yourself a Horse:  Tales of Old-Time Horse Trading_, 1987.
 The anecdote this chapter is based on was collected in 1940; the action
described here was to have taken place in 1898.]


I must be missing something obvious or something that's been written about
before.  Is "tyt" (and similar) a reference to "tittle"?  Why the variant
forms, especially those expressed as initialisms?  (And now I wonder why
the example that got me started on this lacked the terminal "t.")

-- Bonnie

[1] http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind1210B&L=ADS-L&P=R3924

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

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