[Ads-l] ABC (was Re: XYZ revived)

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 15 16:18:15 EST 2016

Around the same time in the 1970s, I recall the use of “ABC gum” to mean “gum that’s Already Been Chewed.”

The ridiculousness of that notwithstanding, I see that it continues to have currency today.

Urban Dictionary

Fake ABC Gum as a gag
https://www.amazon.com/Fake-Trick-Pink-Chewed-Practical/dp/B00IEHD1F2 <https://www.amazon.com/Fake-Trick-Pink-Chewed-Practical/dp/B00IEHD1F2>

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA

> On 15 Dec 2016, at 09:48, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 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
> [Genealogybank]
> "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:
> "XYZ!"
> Translation: "Examine your zipper!"
> ---
> On Thu, Dec 15, 2016 at 9:26 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
> wrote:
>> 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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