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Re: Raw prawn; ripoff

Posted by R. Berg on April 29, 2003

In Reply to: Don't come the raw prawn with me posted by Lotg on April 29, 2003

: This is one of my all time favourites. I've only ever heard it used in my own country - Australia and by Australians. However, it wouldn't surprise me if it's originally Cockney or something.

: For those who haven't heard it, it seems to mean 'don't try to hoodwink me' (hoodwink - there's another one), or don't try to rip me off (yet another one - rip me off).

: So can anyone help with this one, or even 'hoodwink' & 'rip me off'.

: Thanks,
: Petalyn (yep, that's my real name, not Lotg)

From Eric Partridge, "A Dictionary of Catch Phrases American and British":
"don't come the raw prawn!" 'Don't try to put one over me!' --'Don't try to impose on me!' This catchphrase arose, during WW2, in the Australian Army; Wilkes's earliest printed date is 1942; in 1946 Rohan Rivett, 'Behind Bamboo' (a prisoner-of-war story) writes, '"Raw prawn" something far-fetched, difficult to swallow, absurd'. Apparently first dictionaried by the late Grahame Johnston, in 'The Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary', 1976. A raw prawn is less edible than a cooked one. [Paul Beale, who edited and revised Partridge's book:] if in fact to do with cooking, then perhaps orig. a ref. to the Japanese delicacy. I have also heard the phrase used to mean 'Don't pretend to be the naive innocent!'

End of Partridge quote; back to me (R.B.): I first heard "rip off" (verb) and "ripoff" (noun) in the US, 1960s. As far as I know, they started as hippie slang.