Posted by Bob on April 05, 2006
In Reply to: That won't fly posted by D. Chumbley on April 05, 2006
: "Won't fly." What is the origin of the phrase, used as such: "It won't fly," "That won't fly," or "Will it fly?" My understanding is that it is an old Yiddish saying used to imply something is as unlikely to happen as was the resurrection of Jesus. Their implication was that if Jesus was resurrected, it was the same as if he had flown away. And, they, being Jewish, had strong doubts that such an event took place. So, if something came up and they doubted its possibilities, they would say, "That won't fly."
: D. Chumbley, Minneapolis, USA
Ah. You may have read Michael Wex's excellent book, "Born to Kvetch." (Highly recommended reading for those curious about Yiddish language, culture and influence. Not to mention funny and readable.) He relates the story of the Yiddish phrase you describe. Whether that qualifies as a first source or first reference, I can't say.