[Ads-l] Miscellany

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Dec 28 16:03:03 UTC 2018

The Oxford English Dictionary has information about the phrase
“through the roof” with a first citation in 1946.

roof, n.

[Begin excerpt]
P5. colloq. through the roof.
 a. Esp. of bids, prices, sales, etc.: beyond the expected limit, to
extreme heights. Chiefly to go through the roof .
1946   E. Hodgins Mr. Blandings builds his Dream House viii. 118   The
Knapp sales curves were going through the roof.
1972   Times 24 Oct. 10/3   Only a few special treasures were bid
through the roof.
1973   Times 30 Oct. 19/6   On lots that were rare and undamaged they
[sc. prices] went through the roof.
[End excerpt]

Here is an instance of the metaphorical phrase “went through the roof”
in the domain of commodity prices in 1925.

Date: May 7, 1925
Newspaper: The Akron Beacon Journal
Newspaper Location: Akron, Ohio
Article: Crude Rubber Strikes Peak Price in Years
Quote Page 1, Column 6
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
Crude rubber prices went through the roof Thursday morning and as they
gave signs of continuing to advance, the market suddenly became
completely demoralized, according to White-Seiberling Co., Akron crude
rubber brokers.
[End excerpt]

Why was this metaphor selected? In the price domain I have heard
phrases such as “price ceiling” and “price cap”. If the phrase “price
ceiling” was established initially then one might talk about “going
through the price ceiling” or more emphatically “going through the
price roof” or a “price going through the roof”.

Yet, I do not know when or why the phrase “price ceiling” entered
circulation. Perhaps a graph plot of a constrained price was
reminiscent of a ceiling.

On Thu, Dec 27, 2018 at 5:19 PM Mark Mandel <mark.a.mandel at gmail.com> wrote:
> Well, sort of. That use is literal, but I've never taken the idiom to imply
> flames, but just "very high" in some metaphorical sense or other:
> - numerical: prices, interest rates, medical readings (blood pressure...),
> (dis?)approval ratings...
> - emotion: Wilson's enthusiasm example; very commonly anger in a different,
> implicit construction ("When she heard about their escapades, the principal
> went through the roof")
> Ah. Cambridge agrees:
> https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/go-through-the-roof
> :
> - to rise to a very high level:
> Prices have gone through the roof.
> - (*also hit the roof , informal*) to get very angry:
> When I was expelled from school, my parents went through the roof.
> Mark
> On Dec 27, 2018 3:43 PM, "Wilson Gray" <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
> Heard on local news
> A fireman says to a reporter,
> "By the time we got here, the flames were _through the roof_."
> Is this the source of such expressions as:
> When she said yes, I was through the roof!
> After she had explained the concept, my enthusiasm was through the roof!
> During the concert, the fumes of Teen Spirit were through the roof!
> --
> -Wilson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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