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Re: Chewed out

Posted by Smokey Stover on February 05, 2004

In Reply to: Re: Chewed out posted by ESC on February 05, 2004

: : : : where did the phrase "chewed my ass out" come from?

: : : I don't know. But I can tell you that one reference says it dates back to 1946 and originated in the U.S. ("Oxford Dictionary of Slang" by John Ayto (Oxford University Press, Oxford & New York, 1999)

: : : I'm going to guess that it refers to some drill sergeant who was chewing on a soldier like a dog chews on someone.

: : "I heard that every expression ever used originated in the USA, whether in English (misnoma), Spanish (New Mexico), French (Cajuns), German & Dutch (Noo Yoirk). I am surprised that the world even existed before 1492, let alone spoke."+

: : When common-place expression uses simple words in an obvious context, I think it unlikely that it took until 1946 for anybody to use it.

: : + from "If I ruled the word" Chapter 2 of the collected musings of Li Yar with a forward by William Shakespeare.

: The usual practice of this type of reference book is to assign a date based on the first use of the expression in print.

Everybody's right, including Li Yar, but someone neglected to say (I think) that the addition of "my ass" is supererogatory, just an attempt to be more emphatic by being more vulgar. I'm a bit surprised that the Oxford Dictionary of Slang has a leg up on the OED, which could only find a citation from 1948. The transition from chew something to chew someone is not a difficult one to make, but I can't honestly say that I remember hearing "chew out" before WW II. The OED gives a citation from "c1230" of chewed used to mean "to worry with reproaches." As for the apparent hegemony of American slang, I think Li Yar is well suited to study the subject, or at least brainstorm it, and report back to the rest of us. I'm not trying to belittle the idea; it would not have occurred to Li Yar without some reason. So what's the reality? I would point out that what we call standard English is riddled with expressions which were once slang or obnoxious cliches (and brought to North America from Britain), and have since won a permanent place in the mother tongue. SS