Thirteen and the odd

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Thu Nov 14 05:14:17 UTC 2013

On 11/13/2013 6:01 AM, Michael Quinion wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Michael Quinion <wordseditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG>
> Organization: World Wide Words
> Subject:      Thirteen and the odd
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Can anyone help with the early history of this American expression?
> A reader found it in a story by Damon Runyon, Melancholy Dane, of 1944.
> Runyon describes people waiting to enter a theatre as being dressed "in
> the old thirteen and odd."
> The first instance I've so far found was in the Cincinnati Enquirer in
> November 1908 and the last - apart from Runyon's - was in a short story by
> George Ade, The Fable of Mr. Whipple's Dress Suit, syndicated in
> newspapers in 1933.
> Early examples make clear that the thirteen and the odd was formal evening
> wear of white tie and tails, specifically not the Wodehousian soup and
> fish, which was black tie or tuxedo.
> I have found nothing that indicates where it comes from.

I failed to explain this one myself a few years ago:

... and I'm sad to say I don't have anything useful to add now.

But some of the savants have bigger and better databases and other

Popik mentions this in passing (apparently equivalent to "soup-and-fish"
in at least one instance):

-- Doug Wilson

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list