[Ads-l] Total silence - "hear a frog piss on cotton"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Wed Sep 12 01:09:53 UTC 2018

Google Books has variants with "mouse," "ant," "cat," and "flea," but "rat"
shows up most frequently, esp. in jazz contexts. Examples:

John Chilton, _Billie's Blues: A Survey of Billie Holiday's Career,
1933-1959_, 1975
Everyone thought she wouldn't be at work because of her conduct, but she
never missed one night, she packed that little club every night and when
she sang it was so quiet you could literally hear a rat pissing on cotton.
Eric Sackheim, _Out of a Grey Notebook: Words I Found for My Children_, 1976
When Hamp took his solos you could hear rats piss on cotton.
Bill Crow, _Jazz Anecdotes: Second Time Around_, 1990/2005
Roy Eldridge said [about Art Tatum performing]: Boy, you could hear a rat
piss on cotton!

On Tue, Sep 11, 2018 at 8:45 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>

> The version I encountered in the '70s was "a rat pissing on cotton."
> I suppose frogs are quieter, though.
> JL
> On Tue, Sep 11, 2018 at 5:25 PM Andy Bach <afbach at gmail.com> wrote:
> > "'For a few seconds, you honestly could have heard a frog piss on
> cotton. "
> > John Carlos' autobiography "The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That
> > Changed the World"
> >
> >
> > https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/10/
> tommie-smith-1968-50-years-later/568294/
> >

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

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