Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Wed Nov 7 10:23:04 UTC 2012

It's impressive that DARE (v.5 p. 533) has several attestations of "suit to a T Y T" and variants under tee-whitie. (I'll send a pdf to Bonnie.) But DARE does not offer a proposed etymology.

Two more notes, to supplement what I wrote before (below*) in case they become relevant.

1) Pretty similar sounding words, total and tittle.

2) Some time ago I posted an antedating (that may be a pre- or non-prohibition use) for tee-totally:

March 30, 2011 at 11:03 am

Apparently “tee-totally” was used in 1810, as I commented at Oxford Etymologist:.
“She ‘s as good a piece of horse flesh as ever was foalded—I’ll be tee-totally damned if she an’t.”
The savage, by Piomingo, a headman and warrior of the Muscogulgee (Philadelphia, 1810) p. 263

Anatoly remarked:
"Teetotal. Stephen Goranson points out that the earliest citation for teetotal known to him goes back to 1810.  Antedating is crucial in some cases and only curious in others.  This example belongs to the first category, for it makes the widely publicized anecdotes about the origin of teetotal look suspicious."

Stephen Goranson

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.

From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Bonnie Taylor-Blake [b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2012 8:46 AM
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] T-y-t

On Mon, Nov 5, 2012 at 4:35 PM, Joan H. Hall wrote:

> DARE treats this at "tee-whitie." We're glad for the additional
> information, Bonnie.

Good to know, Joan.  Thanks!

But now I'm embarrassed.  I'm afraid I don't have ready access to DARE
(at least not until this evening).  Can you clue me in as to what DARE
says about "tee-whitie"?  (And why am I now suddenly thinking about

Thanks also go to Jon, Gerald, Dan, and Stephen* for their SWAGs, "to
your tastes," Spanish "ands", and tittles and yods on the subject.

-- Bonnie

* for Stephen's and my sake, I was hoping this was going to turn out
to be "ten yards total" or something.

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

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list