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Re: Don't know me from Adam

Posted by ESC on October 20, 2005

In Reply to: Don't know me from Adam posted by Coleen on October 20, 2005

: Can anyone help with the origin of the phrase "you don't know me from Adam", or is this just bibical and Adam was the first man?

Yes, it is Adam from the Bible. Here is what I believe to be the whole phrase:

ADAM'S OFF OX - "The form commonly used is 'not to know one from Adam's off ox,' meaning to have not the slightest information about the person indicated. The saying in any form, however, is another of the numerous ones commonly heard but of which no printed record has been found. But in 1848 the author of a book on 'Nantucketisms' recorded a saying then in use on that island, 'Poor as God's off ox,' which, he said, meant very poor. It is possible that on the mainland 'Adam' was used as a euphemistic substitute. The off ox, in a yoke of oxen, is the one on the right of the team. Because it is the farthest from the driver it cannot be so well seen and may therefore get the worst of the footing. It is for that reason that 'off ox' has been used figuratively to designate a clumsy or awkward person." From "A Hog on Ice" by Charles Earle Funk (1948, Harper & Row).