[Ads-l] _hit in the face with the ugly stick_

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 19 15:00:52 EDT 2016

On Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 9:09 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM> wrote:

> Green's Dictionary of Slang has:
> _beat with an ugly stick_ (v.) (also _hit over the head with an/the ugly
> stick_, _slap..._, _whip...)
> 1. (Aus./US) to cause to be unattractive; often as a supposed reason for
> one's lack of good looks, e.g. _he was beat with an ugly stick_.
> 1985 [Aus] B. Humphries _Traveller's Tool_ 20: You'd swear they'd all been
> hit over the head with the ugly stick.
> 1989 [US] P. Munro _Sl. U._ 28: be beat with an ugly stick / be slapped
> with an ugly stick / be whipped with an ugly stick to be ugly (often used
> as a reason for why someone should be ugly).
> 1996 [US] (con. 1940s) Deuce Ofay Productions The Jive Bible at
> JiveOn.com [Internet] Angela, what you doin', Rick? He 'bout as low as
> you can go wit' out somebody takin' the ugly stick to yo' head!
> 2010 [UK] K. Richards _Life_ 134 Your old lady's so ugly, I had to chase
> her away with an ugly stick.

It could be, as is so often the case, the version that I know is peculiar
to St. Louis. The above versions are all new to me, both literally and
figuratively, _hit in the face with the ugly stick_ going back to at least
1945, IME, and is non-occurrent in any other form. I.e. the phrase is a
descriptor only of a person's face. Of course, usage is continually in
flux. So, if I went back to The Lou and hung out, who knows what version of
the phrase I might hear, over 65 years since I last lived there?


" _hit over the head with an/the ugly stick_, _slap..._, _whip..."? _Beat_
with _an_ ugly stick"? "_Chase away_ with _an_ ugly stick"? How quaint! in
fact, IMO, that's messed up.
All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

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

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