In Reply to: We know where the bodies are buried posted by Smokey Stover on May 10, 2008 at 09:42:
: : : 'We know where the bodies are buried'. Who coined this phrase?
: : I am guessing someone with organized crime. But I will see what the phrase books say.
: We know which skeletons are in which closets, which unmarked graves hide the company's secrets. Or, as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it:
: "rig. N. Amer. to know where the bodies are buried: to have personal knowledge of the secrets or confidential affairs of an organization or individual."
: They cite several examples of this phrase in use, beinging with:
: "1940 H. J. MANKIEWICZ & O. WELLES Citizen Kane (film script) 199 If you're smart, you'll talk to Raymond. That's the butler. You can learn a lot from him. He knows where the bodies are buried."
Possibly relevant is a German traditional saying, "Da ist der Hund begraben!", meaning literally "That's where the dog is buried", and figuratively "That's what's at the bottom of all this". American English absorbed a lot of German in the 19th-early 20th centuries, so there may have been some influence here. (VSD)