Posted by ESC on November 14, 2003
In Reply to: Lickety split posted by Smokey Stover on November 13, 2003
: : Where did this come from, please? Thank you - Sax
: : I find it a little unsatisfactory to have to say it's a colloquialism of which the origin is not precisely known. At any rate, the work "lick" has long been associated with speed--"He came down the hill full lick," or "He galloped at a great lick." And the word lickety conveys the same notion (that is, "very fast"), always in conjunction with some other word, nowadays "split."
LICKETY-SPLIT - " adv. 1859, American English, formed from earlier 'lickitie' very fast (irregular formation from 'lick,' n., used dialectally in the sense of fast) + split, n."From "The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology" by Robert K. Barnhart (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1995).