Posted by R. Berg on March 15, 2001
In Reply to: Polly wants a cracker? posted by Joe on March 15, 2001
: Does anyone know when this phrase was first used? My guess is that it was in a movie, but am not able to find any reference to it.
I suspect that people said that to their parrots (and then parrots, of course, said it to their people) before movies existed. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), Polly is a diminutive of Poll "as a female name, and name for a parrot," and Poll, altered from Moll, familiar form of Mary, is the traditional name for any parrot. The earliest quotation the OED gives for Polly as a name or designation for a parrot is from Ben Jonson's "Epigrams," 1616.
In the U.S. it's usually "want" instead of "wants"--imitating baby talk. Imitating baby talk.