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86

Posted by Bob on November 17, 2002

In Reply to: 86 posted by R. Berg on November 13, 2002

: : : I've had the message below by email. The term '86' isn't used in the UK so I'm hoping you US folk (call out the Yobs) can confirm the meaning.

: : : Start of email message..........
: : : You have the origin of this famous phrase correct but way off in its meaning. I was born in NY and my Grandfather has told me more than a few stories about Chumley's Bar. During proabition, Chumley's had several
: : : secret hide-a-ways and secret exits including one to an alley off 86th street. This was a quick exit if they were raided. Hence the term "eighty six the joint"
: : :
: : : This term means to slip away or to leave quickly.

: :

: : There's some discussion of other theories on the origin under "nix" in the archives including a post on Aug. 30, 2002. I've never heard the term "in real life." I guess it could mean "leave quickly." But from Mr. Flexner's description it sounds more like a person is thrown out of a place.

: I've heard (and read) "eighty-sixed" only to mean thrown out. My impression is that it's typically used in the passive: "Darrell crashed Ron's party and was eighty-sixed." I haven't heard 86 used with the meaning of leaving a place voluntarily.

86 is still used in restaurants (in the US) to alert the waitstaff not to accept any orders for a menu item that the kitchen has run out of, as in "86 the veal." By coincidence, I was in a restaurant today, and saw a write on/wipe off message board at the kitchen entrance with "86" and two items listed below it.