"Bet a fat man"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Dec 17 12:54:54 UTC 2013

I'm not convinced, for exactly the reason Wilson suggests. How many people
would have known in 1934 that there was a fat man on a $1000 bill?

(The obesity of Grover Cleveland, BTW, was definitively exceeded by that of
the far more weighty, bathtub entrapped William Howard Taft.  It is said
that having been trapped by his girth in the White House bathtub cost him
the chance to appear on any U.S. currency note whatsoever.*)

An "iron man" (or even a "man," though I can't check teh dates right now)
was another synonym for a dollar. Maybe a "fat man" suggested a bigger,
better dollar. Beats me.


*Source: my own insight into how things work.

On Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 11:56 PM, John Doe <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       John Doe <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      "Bet a fat man"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Jonathon Green suggests:
> [? the fig. size of one=E2=80=99s wager]
> FWIW, AFAIK, a "fat man" is the thousand-dollar banknote issued in 1934
> that features a portrait of Grover Cleveland, renowned for being, among
> other things, a *fat man*. This is only a story that I heard, about 65
> years ago. It makes sense, especially if, as Jonathon surmises, the saying
> dates from the '30's, when a thousand would have been an
> almost-unimaginable amount of money to the boyz n da 'hood. Well, it was
> *still* an almost-unimaginable amour of money, in the '60's.
> In HDAS, Jon cites _fat mouth_ as "a loudmouth; (hence) a fool." My mother,
> b. 1913, used the expression, "(natural) fat mouth," only in the sense of
> "(utter) fool: "Don't let in-ty bot-ty use you for a natural good thing!"
> OTOH, me n my boyz, we used _fat mouth_ in the sense of "a gossip, of
> either sex, who can't/won't keep a secret."
> BTW, on YouTube, I've come across instances of this emphatic pronunciation
> of "any" as "inty" used by white Southern-speakers. It's good to know that
> it's still alive and well among all of the good old home-folk.
> --=20
> -Wilson
> -----
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -Mark Twain
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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