Posted by Smokey Stover on August 03, 2005
In Reply to: "Not for nothing?" posted by Bruce Kahl on August 02, 2005
: : Anyone know the meaning of the phrase "not for nothing?" It seems to be generally used to mean the opposite. Help?
: Whenever you see the phrase "not for nothing" substitute the following phrase--"If you don't mind my asking" and it will make sense.
: In certain parts of NYC you will hear it as "not for nuttin" as in "Not for nuttin Tony but how the hell did you get this job".
: And you will never hear the -ing, it is almost always pronounced "not for nothin".
Bruce has done a good job of explaining one of the folkways of two of the boroughs. Yes, it is sometimes used to mean "not on a bet!" (Very colloquial double negative there.) But more generally it is used to mean a version of "for something." Not for nothing was General Patton feared as much as he was respected. (It was for something, that is, it was justified. There was something to explain it.) Not for nothing do Bolton's critics call him a bull in a china shop. In this sense the -ing is always pronounced as -ing. The phrase often occurs first in a sentence, but can also be in predicate position. It was not for nothing that we all refused to shop there. SS