[Ads-l] Ain't got no clue

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 7 05:44:17 UTC 2022

Dan Goncharoff wrote:
> I am not sure references to clues by detectives, or in solving a mystery,
> is a change in the original meaning of "not having a clue".

Thanks for your response, Dan.
I think that the detective in the 1864 citation had already gathered
several clues.  When he said “I have not a clue” he was not being
literal; instead, he was expressing the fact that he was stumped as
indicated in the second sentence of the excerpt. This corresponds to
the sense "to have no idea; not to know''.
Of course, this analysis depends on the definition of a "clue".

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

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