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Re: The heat is on

Posted by ESC on June 01, 2001

In Reply to: The heat is on posted by Pamela Griffin on June 01, 2001

: I couldn't find the form we were supposed to fill
: out--it wasn't at the bottom of my screen when I
: rolled down, as the page said it would be--so am
: doing this in a follow-up post. Hope this works. . .
: I'm a writer, and am looking for the origin (year)
: of the prhase "The heat is on." I have my gangster
: character saying "Is the heat on?" to another
: character, but am not sure if they would have said
: this during the time of WWI--specifically 1917.
: Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.
: If possible,I'd also appreciate the reference.
: (Book, article, etc.)

: Thanks and God bless--
: Pamela

I'm away from my library. But according to a book in my little mini-library:

TO TURN THE HEAT ON -- "This seems originally to have been underworld slang, probably a rough interpretation of 'to be grilled' in the figurative sense. It means, to be subjected to a severe cross-examination, as by police officers in grilling a suspected criminal; but of course in ordinary use a youngster will say that his dad turned the heat on when asking how the fender of the car got dented. The expression is quite recent." From "A Hog on Ice & other Curious Expressions" by Charles Earle Funk (Harper & Row, New York, 1948).

Notice that Mr. Funk says the expression is "recent," but the book was published in 1948. If I find an earlier origin date, I'll post it.