[Ads-l] XYZ revived

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 15 12:48:23 EST 2016

I share Benjamin B.'s recollection of its use in the '70s. I grew up in
central NJ, but the newspaper databases show scattered usage all over by
that point -- sometimes with elaborations like "XYZ, PDQ." (One that I'm
not familiar with is the retort "ABC!" -- for "Already Been Checked.")
Earliest example I've found is from 1966:

Evansville (Ind.) Courier and Press, Mar. 1, 1966, p. 9, col. 1
"Morning Assignment: Youngsters Have a Language All Their Own" by Joe Aaron
Young boys, for example -- those, say, in the fifth or sixth grades in
school -- are known to have a great deal of difficulty with the zippers on
their pants, so that the dad-ratted fasteners sometimes don't fasten very
well at ll.
On such an occasion, I have been informed by one of my younger agents, one
boy hisses to the other:
Translation: "Examine your zipper!"

On Thu, Dec 15, 2016 at 9:26 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>

> Barn doors were still open in the fifties, but the horse’s whereabouts
> didn’t usually need to be specified.  Can’t say as I’d ever heard “XYZ”
> though (and  Petersville time checks wouldn’t have helped in the post-war
> Zipper Age).
> LH
> > On Dec 15, 2016, at 12:23 AM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> >
> > On Wed, Dec 14, 2016 at 2:59 PM, Barretts Mail <mail.barretts at gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> >
> >> I recall this acronym for “examiner your zipper” being used in the 1970s
> >> to mean “your zipper is open.”
> >>
> >
> > It's brand-new to me. Back in button days of the '40's, we said,
> >
> > "It's [number of buttons unbuttoned] o'clock in Petersville"
> >
> >                                        or
> >
> > "Your barn-door's open (and your horse is getting out),"
> >
> > which also works for zippered flies.
> >

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

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