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Beating the "tar" out of someone

Posted by Markitos on July 31, 2001

In Reply to: Beating the "tar" out of someone posted by R. Berg on July 11, 2001

: : Does anyone know the origin of: "scarred the tar out of them or beating the tar out of someone"? My thinking is it has some religious connotation. Any ideas?

: The Dictionary of American Slang has this for "tar": "The insides; the stuffing. Usu. in 'beat [or knock] the tar out of [someone].' 1930: 'Someone . . . beat the tar out of the thug. . . .'"

Well, that's what you get when you use a dictionary!...."Tar" in this sense is a diminutive of "tarnation," which is a condensation of "eternal damnation," so when you beat the tar out of someone, you are essentially beating them sufficiently to return them to the path of rightousness.

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