In Reply to: All get out posted by Gary Martin on February 07, 2010 at 09:42:
: : "All get out". I believe has its origins in the idiomatic use of the word "ought" - as in 'duty' or 'what's coming to me'. Northern England: "I took out this bird, 'til I realized I wouldn't get ought from her".
: 'All get out' is a new idiom on me.
: I think you are muddling 'ought', i.e. 'should', with 'owt', the Northern English dialect term for 'anything'.
: 'Owt' and 'nowt', which derive from the Scots 'aught' and 'naught' are still commonplace in Yorkshire and I hear them every day here. There's no sense in which they mean 'duty'.
The Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. get-out, has this:
1. Phr. as or like (all) get-out, used to indicate a high degree of something.
Their first citation is from 1838, and the meaning, up to the present, remains unchanged. It is at least as common in North America as in the British Isles, and I would guess a great deal more so.
I don't know why "get-out" came to be used in this way, but I would be extremely surprised if it had anything to do with ought or nowt or any words other than get and out.
Another interesting colloquialism, which may be more common this side of the pond but is nevertheless understood on yon side, is the interjection, "Get out!" It is spoken exactly as though the speaker wanted the spoken to to get himself hence; but actually it's just an expression of incredulity and surprise. It is interesting to hear tiny Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) say it emphatically to her watcher, the tweedy Brit Giles, who is nonplussed for a moment by this cheeky command.