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Bang to rights!

Posted by R. Berg on September 19, 2001

In Reply to: Meaning of a saying posted by S.A.Lee on September 19, 2001

: please can anyone tell me where or why the saing Bang to Rights came from. We have looked lots of places but as of yet have not come up with any answere hope somebody there can help us. Thanks.

The answer is in Eric Partridge's book Dictionary of Catch Phrases: American and British, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day:

BANG TO RIGHTS! 'A fair cop'--a justifiable arest for an obvious crime; underworld, since before 1930. Hence, a police and London's East End catchphrase by 1935 at latest, and a fairly general slangy catchphrase since c. 1950. Note Frank Norman's engaging criminal reminiscences, "Bang to Rights," 1950. For the 'bang' part of the phrase cf. 'bang on!'; 'to rights' = rightfully.

BANG ON! was a bomber crews' catchphrase of WW2 and it meant that everything was all right; in the nuances 'dead accurate' and 'strikingly apposite', it was adopted by civilians in 1945 . . .