"come to Limerick" 1860-1861

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Thu Nov 21 14:42:24 UTC 2013

As you may recall, the American phrase "come to Limerick," meaning "come to terms" or the like, attested since the U.S. Civil War, and probably alluding to the Irish Treaty of Limerick, may have been eventually taken up in contests involving the already-extant English nonsense poem form eventually known as Limericks. Previous details available in the list archive [1] and in Comments on Etymology [2].

Here are three earlier U.S. uses [from America's Historical Newspapers].

Independence Conservative, page [2], col. 5, vol. 5, iss. 25
Publication Date:
February 3, 1860
Published as:
The Weekly Independence Civilian
Independence, Iowa
Headline [col. 4]:
A Valuable Document
Article Type:

[Humorous suggestions for the upcoming Republican convention, before the shooting started, but about the political fight.] "....Resolved....to discard cotton from their bosoms and rice from their puddings, until the South "comes to Limerick" about the ni//er issue" [the n-word, / = g, here altered for email conveyance].

Plain Dealer, page [2] col. 2, vol. XVI, iss. 107
Publication Date:
May 5, 1860
Published as:
Plain Dealer
Cleveland, Ohio
Editorial Correspondence. Great Flummix of the Fire-Eaters!--The Disunionists Dissolve their Connection with the Democratic Party...
Article Type:

"We told them we were not Buchanan Lecompcon [sic, Lecompton?] men, but were determined Douglas Democrats, and that they must now "come to Limerick!"

Headline: "Come up to Limerick."; Article Type: News/Opinion
Paper: Norwich Morning Bulletin; Date: 04-18-1861; Page: 2 col. 1 ;Location: Norwich, Connecticut [antedates May 11, 1861 posted, I think, by Bill Mullins][This article is about recruits for the U.S. Army, if given uniforms and assured of care for their families. "Citizens of Norwich! You can straighton [sic] this...Come to Apollo all to-day and do it..." The phrase ( with "up" added) appears only in the headline.]

Stephen Goranson

[1] ADS-L searchable at http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?S1=ads-l

[2] Cohen, Gerald (compiler) (2010). "Stephen Goranson's research into _limerick_: a preliminary report." "Comments on Etymology" vol. 40, no. 1-2. (October-November 2010) pages 2-11. If a list member wishes a pdf, you may ask me.

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list