[Ads-l] Hockey: "to go" meaning "to fight"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jun 11 18:09:08 UTC 2016

On another mailing list an inquiry was made about the history of the
use of the verb "to go" with the sense "to fight" in the hockey
domain. The following example was given:

"He wanted to go, so we dropped our gloves and started swinging."

Based on that example I found an instance of the verb "to go" (without
the preposition "at") matching the sense "to fight" in 1974.

Date: February 21, 1974
Newspaper: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Newspaper Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Article title: Blues Dig Angotti's Chicago Style, Tie Penguins
Continuation title: Blues Tie; Plante Gets 20th Goal
Byline: Gary Mueller (Post-Dispatch Staff)
Start Page 1C, Quote Page 3C, Column 2
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
Thomson and Pittsburgh's Ron Stackhouse got into a brief shoving match
and when Kelly stepped in, Thomson immediately dropped his gloves and
was ready to fight. He landed one good punch to the jaw of Kelly, who
is reputed to be one of the NHL's best fighters.

"I was really surprised that he wanted to go," said Kelly. "We were
the best of friends when I was in St. Louis. In fact, I called him on
the telephone just the other night and we had a nice talk. All I was
doing was stepping in Between him and Stack and the next thing I knew
he had his gloves off."
[End excerpt]

Note: The word "between" is incorrectly capitalized in the original
text. Please double-check for typos and other errors.

Earlier examples and information would be welcome. I did tell the
inquirer that the phrase "to go at" with the sense attack has a long
history. But I think the inquirer is looking for examples without

[Begin excerpt from OED]
go, v.
PV2. With prepositions in specialized senses.
  to go at ——

 1. intr. To attack, make an attack upon; (also) to set about or deal
with, esp. vigorously or enthusiastically. Also to go at it: to engage
vigorously or enthusiastically in some specified or implied activity.

1675   Accomplish'd Lady's Delight 233   If the Fisher-Man espye him
[sc. the Salmon], he goeth at him with his Spear.

1761   Kept Mistress 58   Up they both jumped, and at it they went pell mell.

1820   Examiner No. 637. 403/1   Our..Orator went at it again, like a
Titan refreshed.
[End excerpt]

A respondent named William Whalen shared the following interesting information:

[Begin excerpt]
Mathews DICTIONARY OF AMERICANISMS has as the first meaning of the noun
"go" --  A prize fight.

"1896 ADE Artie 3 "Get a couple o' handy boys and put on a six round
go for a finish"".

"1903 Cin Enquirer 1 Jan 4/5 "The old year went out to-night at the
Empire Theater with an advertized ten-round go between Patsy Hogan and
Louisville tommy West""
[End excerpt]


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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list