Posted by Driver on February 05, 2004
In Reply to: Re: Curb your hilarity! posted by Smokey Stover on February 05, 2004
: : : : There is now a creative and funny program on a cable channel in the states called "Curb Your Enthusiasm". The title phrase is one I've heard all my life, with no sense of its origin or history. Can anyone help?
: : : : I can remember hearing, "Curb your tongue, knave!" In other words, "Be quiet!" or "Shut up!"
: : : There is also the gentle reminder to, "Curb your dog!" meaning "Please have your dog do its business at the side of the road."
: : : I am unsure of its origin.
: : I found a reference to similar catchphrase - "Desist! Curb your hilarity!" That was a "quip" used by George Robey. From "Dictionary of Catch Phrases: American and British from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day" by Eric Partridge, updated and edited by Paul Beal, Scarborough House, Lanham, Md., 1992)
: : I don't know if the two phrases are related.
: "Curb your enthusiasm" is an ironic remark made when the speaker's suggestions or comments have met with a total absence of enthusiasm. It's a humorous acknowledgment that one's ideas have gone over like a lead balloon. SS
Curb/kerb - to restrain in the way that a kerb-stone rises up from the surface and restrains the roadway. More important before the days of tarmac - to have a walkway above the mud was welcome. In the US as well as sidewalks, there are boardwalks which do the job - especially in areas outside the conurbations, whereas in the Old World, there appears little alternative to the pavement.
I have a feeling that word 'curb' for restraint came from dealing with horses - as do other well-used words like 'bridle','hobble' and 'rein'.