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

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 5 13:54:16 UTC 2012


"To a T" is opaque. It frequently elicited the question, "Why T?" Hence,
jocularly, "To a T why T?"



On Mon, Nov 5, 2012 at 6:13 AM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "Suit to a t-y-t" (and similiar)
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> 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
> www.duke.edu/~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.]
> ----------------------------
> Further,
> 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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