[Ads-l] Saying: It=?UTF-8?Q?=E2=80=99s_a_great_life_if_you_don=E2=80=99t_?=weaken

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 12 17:29:08 UTC 2022

The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs, The New Yale Book of Quotations
(NYBQ), Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, The Oxford Dictionary of
Quotations, and other references have entries about the saying in the
subject line. The family of sayings includes:

It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.
It’s a grand life if you don’t weaken.
It’s a gay, joyful life, if you don’t weaken.

NYBQ lists a citation dated Mar. 27, 1914. Now the QI website presents
a Nov. 19, 1908 citation.

Graham Greene, Dorothy Parker, H. L. Mencken, and John Buchan have
used the expression.

It’s a Great Life If You Don’t Weaken

The earliest match I've located appeared in 1908 within an article
published in “The Evening Telegram” of Salt Lake City, Utah. Police
picked up a man who was acting like a hobo in Provo, Utah. He revealed
to the officers that he was a wealthy individual named Thomas Carter,
and he told them to contact his banker in Salt Lake City to verify his
identity. A journalist heard this odd tale and asked Carter about his

[ref] 1908 November 19, The Salt Lake Evening Telegram, Provo Tramp
Turns Out To Be Wealthy Salt Lake Man, Quote Page 7, Column 4, Salt
Lake City, Utah. (GenealogyBank) [/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
“Well, I’ll tell you I am just paying an election bet. I bet that
“Uncle Joe” Cannon would not be re-elected to the house and now I must
make good as a hobo for sixty days or forfeit $5000. It’s a grand life
if you don’t weaken.”
[End excerpt]

Feedback welcome
Garson O'Toole

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

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