phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Free lunch

Posted by ESC on October 02, 2001

In Reply to: Free lunch posted by Bob on October 02, 2001

: : : : : I was browsing and found this at Someone is bound to ask this sooner or later, so here it is:

: : : : : "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."
: : : : : A Libertarian Movement slogan
: : : : : -Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, 1907

: : : : Heinlein was born in 1907, so now don't you wish you had the ability to edit....

: : : You guys are a tough audience. Don't blame me. I just cut and pasted from And learned a valuable lesson in the process, you can't always trust Internet sources.

: : Want to hear something even more shocking? Sometimes real, solid printed books contain mistakes too!
: : Orig. pub date for "Moon" may be earlier than 1967. My old Books in Print cites a 1966 edition.
: : I think "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch" was around in the culture before the mid-1960s, anyway.
: Come to think of it, it was. I remember it from my youth, which I am forced to confess predates 1966, but which may resume any day now.

From Safire's New Political Dictionary by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993). Page 267-268. Mr. Safire says the phrase was used by Nobel economics laureate Milton Friedman in a series of articles, a book and lectures. But he contacted Mr. Friedman about the phrase and Friedman didn't know the origin, "I wish I did." Friedman used the phrase to mean ".everything, even what is seemingly 'free' must be paid for by somebody in some way and that there is no sense in hiding that fact."

Safire says, "Slanguist Stuart Berg Flexner offered the author this help: 'Free lunch dates from the 1840s and was supposed to have moved from the West to the East.'"

Free lunch "was popularized by science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein in his 1966 novel 'The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.' Heinlein coined 'tanstaafl" (there ain't no such thing.), the long acronym for the phrase."

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