In Reply to: Re: Don't have a bar of posted by ESC on June 17, 2010 at 14:57:
: : : : 'Not to have a bar of something'
: : : : This phrase is listed in the Macquarie Dictionary but not in the OED. It means 'not to tolerate something'. I can't find the origin, but I think it's Australian.
: : : It seems that me that I have read that expression in fiction about U.S. pioneer days. But I couldn't find anything in my Appalachian/mountain references.
: : [Earlier this year "avid" asked about the origin and meaning of "I wouldn't have a bar of him." I was unable to give a definitive answer, but could offer the following suggestions: « Greek "baros" = "weight," thus one "bar" is one unit of atmospheric pressure (as measured with a barometer). This terminology is about a century old. Somewhat less old, electric heaters have used (and still today use) bar-shaped elements; more bars, more heat; one bar, least heat. Oldest relevant reference I can think of: Eighteenth-century English traders in Africa (and perhaps India, too?) used small bars of iron as standard currency when travelling and making trades among various native groups who, in some cases, had no other regular exchange in common. For those traders (and their voyages made popular reading-matter throughout the English-speaking world), one bar was a minimum exchange. » (http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/61/messages/286.html) I'm still looking for a good indicator of where and when it began - for instance, was it originally an Americanism, and if so, among what sort of Americans, when, and where located? - Baceseras.]
: This doesn't specifically address "don't have a bar of" but...a discussion is coming back to me. Wheelbarrow (single-wheeled cart used mostly in the garden) = wheel-barrel = wheel-bar = bar. I wouldn't have have it/him if you weren't given it/him away by the wheelbarrow-full.
[The sayings have contrary senses: "wouldn't have a bar of him" = wouldn't have the least little bit of him; but "wouldn't have a barrow of him" = wouldn't have a cartload of him (which is as much as to say, he may be acceptable in small doses). Also, 'barrow' and 'bar' appear to be etymologically distinct - 'barrow' supposedly originating in Teutonic 'beran' (to bear), while 'bar' in the relevant senses comes from God knows what much earlier source. - Bac.]