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

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Mon Nov 5 11:13:30 UTC 2012

Thanks, Bonnie, First I'll say: I don't know.
Here's a slight antedating
Headline: [C. H. Stark; Mr. Stark; Harry]; Article Type: News/Opinion
Paper: Idaho Statesman, published as Idaho Tri-Weekly Statesman; Date: 10-22-1872; Volume: IX; Issue: 40; Page: [3]; Location: Boise, Idaho
....Mr. Stark is an old hand at the [saloon] business and will serve his patrons to a T Y T in everything in his line.

Having said that I don't know, I mention that tittle, as you know, appears in Matthew 5:18, in the 1611 AV/KJV as:
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Now, this may not be relevant (the quotations aren't very church-y) but tittle reminds me of yod (here jot) the small (hence perhaps detail-suggesting, as tittle) Hebrew letter related to Greek iota. So, could the TYT include a Yod and a Tittle? As for the extra T, other than a repeated tittle, might it have something to do with the T intensifier known from the earlier-attested T-total, teetotal? Admittedly, I have not persuaded even myself--but, there it be, for conversation's sake.

Stephen Goranson
From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Bonnie Taylor-Blake [b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Sunday, November 04, 2012 1:00 PM
Subject: [ADS-L] "Suit to a t-y-t" (and similiar)

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

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