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Origin of "walking papers"?

Posted by John Blackmore on December 02, 2001

I've heard the expression a lot, and I know my grandfather used to hear his father say it. But no one knows where it came from! It's obviously a very old expression, I'm just curious how it originated, if known. The usage is 'to give someone his walking papers' which generally means to fire someone or otherwise get rid of them. My grandfather used to tell my mother to give someone his walking papers if she were dating someone he didn't approve of.

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