[Ads-l] siftless

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Mon Mar 30 06:39:01 UTC 2015

On Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 2:23 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> "You'll get no sympathy from me! You want sympathy, look in the
> dictionary between shit and syphilis!"
> --"Major Payne" (1995)
> http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110443/quotes
> Googling for "sympathy," "shit," and "syphilis" reveals many
> variations on this theme. The earliest I've found is from Grover
> Lewis's article, "Splendor in the Short Grass: The Making of the Last
> Picture Show" (_Rolling Stone_, Sept. 2, 1971, reprinted in _Splendor
> in the Short Grass: The Grover Lewis Reader_, 2005).
> "In a sudden hush, the cameras begin to roll, but Cybill blows the
> take by missing her mark parking the convertible. When she stammers
> out an apology, the sound mixer stage-whispers gruffly: 'Sympathy can
> be found in the dictionary between shit and syphilis, sister.'"
> https://books.google.com/books?id=YvMhSH0x8voC&pg=PA27
> http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/25/the-stacks-how-peter-bogdanovich-shot-the-last-picture-show.html

Earlier still:

"I didn't have to look in the dictionary between shit and syphilis for
sympathy so long as he was available."
--Hal Travers (pseud. for Gerald B. Lorentz), _Voyage Sixty-Nine_ (1967)

And this cite suggests it's an old hobo maxim:

"There is a saying on the rails: 'You find sympathy between shit and
syphilis in the dictionary.'"
--Tracy Kidder & Michael Mathers, "Hobo Convention," _Audience_
(Sept.-Oct. 1971, Vol. 1, No. 5)

> Garson has collected some other dictionary-order sayings on Quote Investigator:
> http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/10/20/dict/
> http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/12/03/duty-pleasure/

Ben Zimmer

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

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