"To a t-y-t" again

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at MST.EDU
Thu Jul 4 21:32:03 UTC 2013

Years ago Barry Popik drew the humor magazine _Hatchet_ to my attention and perhaps also the poem
"T-meri-T."  We see here various words ending in -"ty" but spelled with the single letter "t". E.g. "The correct tea for...engaged people --- Felici-t. ...For humorists -- Originali-t. ...For dudes -- Insipidi-t. ...  For youth – Impetuosi-t, ... For barbers -- Loquaci-t."   So every word ending in "t" in this poem is particularly suited to the group being described.  The word suited them perfectly.  Then by extension, a given word or description might be said to suit someone "to a "t".

This poem ("T-meri-t") appeared in 1884, i.e. well after "t-y-t" arose.  But maybe it or a similar version was around much earlier. If so, this sort of poem might be the source of our expression "to a T."

Just a suggestion. --- I reprint the entire _Hatchet_  poem below my signoff.

Gerald Cohen

_Hatchet_, June 28, 1884, p. 7/4: ‘T-meri-T
The correct tea for married people --- Conjugali-t.
 For unmarried people – Affini-t.
 For engaged people – Felici-t.
 For taxpayers – Inevitabili-t.
 For customers – Quanti-t and Quali-t.
 For entertainers – Hospitali-t.
 For guests – Reciproci-t.
 For editors – Abili-t.
 For correspondents – Brevi-t.
 For humorists – Originali-t.
 For newspapers – Diversi-t.
 For subscribers – Punctuali-t.
 For doctors – Debili-t.
 For undertakers – Mortali-t.
 For lawyers – Technicali-t.
 For judges – Digni-t.
 For juries – Equi-t.
 For criminals – Captivi-t.
 For inventors – Ingenui-t.
 For young ladies – Amiabili-t.
 For young men – Reliabilii-t.
 For companions – Ami-t.
 For pretty girls – Vani-t.
 For dudes – Insipidi-t
 For barbers – Loquaci-t.
 For reporters – Veraci-t.
 For actors – Versatili-t.
 For book agents – Verbosi-t.
 For spring poets – Obscuri-t.
 For our neighbors’ children – Incorrigibili-t.
 For old maids – Antiqui-t.
 For old bachelors – Oddi-t.
 For museums – Monstrosi-t.
 For children – Hilari-t.
 For youth – Impetuosi-t.
 For old age – Respectabili-t.
 For husbands and lovers – Probi-t and sinceri-t.
 For wives and sweethearts – Puri-t and chasti-t.
 For the colored brother – Equali-t.
 For nobody – Adversi-t.
 For everybody – Prosperi-t.
 For the United States – Uni-t.
 To avoid prolixi-t, the rarist but greatest of all is Chari-t.
    -- Vanity Fair.

 Dan Goncharoff wrote, Thursday, July 04, 2013 7:10 AM

I don't if this relates to the midwestern t-y-tee.

In translations of Henri Murger's "The Bohemians of the Latin Quarter", you
find the following lines:

"There came a sister of Charity
Ty! Ty! tee! tee!"
It makes me wonder if the t-y-tee is a mnemonic for the pronunciation of
the ending of words like 'charity' that end in 'ty'.


On Wed, Jul 3, 2013 at 8:23 PM, Bonnie Taylor-Blake <b.taylorblake at gmail.co=
> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Bonnie Taylor-Blake <b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      "To a t-y-t" again
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------=
> Here's a slight antedating of that apparently now mysterious
> expression "to a t-y-t" (and variants; see [1]), which we had
> previously pushed back to 1867.
> "I also got the package with the gloves thread and needles in. the
> gloves are just the thing and fit to a T Y t."  [21 December, 1863,
> Corporal Ed Cort, writing from Hogjaw Valley, Alabama; From _Dear
> Friends; The Civil War Letters and Diary of Charles Edwin Cort_, 1962,
> p. 120.]
> Twenty-one-year-old Ed Cort had enlisted in the Union Army in 1862 and
> served with the 92nd Illinois Vol. Infantry Regiment.  He grew up in
> Monongahela City, Pennsylvania, but moved to Lee County, Illinois
> sometime after 1855.  Helyn W. Tomlinson, who published this
> collection, noted that "[p]unctuation and paragraphing [of the
> published letters and diary entries] were changed when they helped to
> clarify meaning but the spelling and capitalization (or lack of it)
> have been left as found in the originals."
> As a side note, some time ago I had noted appearance of "to a t-y-tee"
> in the 24 October 1867 issue of The Daily Iowa [Des Moines] State
> Register [2].  Here are two more from the same paper from the same
> period.
> "He says [Council Bluffs and Omaha] is charming land out there, but we
> think it is one bright particular *charmist* that makes him think so
> for he acknowledges that geographically and economically he wouldn't
> give Des Moines for seven hundred and forty-one thousand Council
> Bluffs.  We agree with him to a t-y-tee."  [From "Out and Back," 16
> November 1867, p. 1.  Via GeneaologyBank.]
> "John always keeps the gayest of [dress] goods, the best workmen, and
> never fails of fitting his customers to a t-y-tee."  [Untitled, 14
> April 1868, p. 1.  Via GeneaologyBank.]
> -- Bonnie
> [1]
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=3Dind1211A&L=3DADS-L&P=3DR=
> [2]
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=3Dind1211B&L=3DADS-L&P=3DR=
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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