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Re: "On the Cuff"

Posted by ESC on February 22, 2000

In Reply to: "On the Cuff" posted by Bruce Kahl on February 22, 2000

:
: After I helped my mechanic tidy up his Win98 desktop and created a few shortcuts, he let me have an oil change "on the cuff", a phrase I have not heard in a while.
: Anybody? Ms. Joplin??

"On the cuff apparently arose at the turn of the century. Since bartenders commonly wore starched white cuffs at the time, the theory that our term for 'on credit' derives from bartenders jotting down the debts of patrons on their cuffs during the rush of business is an appealing one. 'On the arm' probably derives from 'on the cuff,' while 'off the cuff,' unrehearsed or extemporaneous, may come from impromptu notes early Hollywood directors jotted down on their cuffs while shooting a difficult scene in a movie. These ideas, not in the script, were conveyed to the actors when the scene was reshot." From the "Encylopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).