Posted by ESC on September 26, 2005
In Reply to: Out of your cotton picking mind posted by Francis Vassallo on September 26, 2005
: Are you out of your cotton picking mind? I have heard the phrase before. The meaning is not in question, just it's origin. My son thought it was a racially sensitive phrase. I never thought of it that way, though I understand how it can be. It would be helpful to understand it's origin.
Both whites and blacks picked cotton in the South. But I probably wouldn't say it to a black person. Here's some information from a previous discussion:
COTTON-PICKING - as an adjective cotton-picking "is widespread as a term of disparagement. Damned, darned." From the "Dictionary of American Regional English," Volume 1 by Frederic G. Cassidy (1985, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., and London, England).
: : Actually, I think it's more light-hearted/ teasing than disparaging. "Keep your cotton-picking hands off my sandwich."
A similar phrase -- "Bless your little pea-picking heart." A phrase used by country singer/entertainer Tennessee Ernie Ford.