[Ads-l] Earliest Use of "Cook the Books"
mark.a.mandel at GMAIL.COM
Mon Feb 4 06:46:29 UTC 2019
And, just to make the obvious explicit: Once this sense was established and
a firm's accounts were called its "books" (how old is *that* usage, btw?),
the rhyme made this idiom inevitable.
On Mon, Feb 4, 2019, 1:19 AM ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
> Here is the pertinent sense for the verb "cook" in the OED (to provide
> background). The 1751 citation applies "cooked up" to accounts. None
> of the citations for this sense included the word "book" or "books".
> On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 12:01 AM Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:
> > Not knowing how far back you've found it already, I don't know whether
> these are helpful.
> > Phrases.org.uk has an example of the word, "to cook," in the sense of
> "present in a surreptitiously altered form," from 1636.
> > https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/cook-the-books.html
> > In a quick search, I found "cook the books" in the 1860s and "cook the
> accounts" in the 1840s.
> > The earliest "cook the books" I saw is from the Saturday Review
> (London), July 13, 1861, page 39 (HathiTrust).
> > "It is no more than fair for a Dissenting grocer to say that the parson
> of the parish is not a safe savings bank manager, because he may be tempted
> by his zeal for religion to cook the books of all the Wesleyan depositors
> in the district."
> > The expression was well-established enough in 1865 that it appeared in a
> German-language linguistics book, Dr. Max Mueller's Bau-wau-Theorie und der
> Ursprung der Sprache, Leipzig, Verlag von Bernhard Schlicke, 1865, page
> 148. Hathitrust.
> > https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.hx5925;view=1up;seq=160
> > ". . . to cook the books, d. i. die Buecher falsch fuehren . . . ."
> > The earliest "cook the accounts" I found is from 1849.
> > Hampshire Telegraph and Naval Chronicle (Portsmouth, England), June 16,
> 1849, page 2. (Newspapers.com)
> > "The traders and professional men won't pay the tax. They juggle with
> their consciences; cook their accounts; falsify their returns, and leave
> the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the lurch."
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