"walking papers"

Posted by ESC on December 02, 2001

In Reply to: 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.

WALKING PAPERS - "A person's dismissal from work, as 'He was given his walking papers.'" From Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable revised by Adrian Room (HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, 1999, Sixteenth Edition).

That's what I thought it referred to. Another "go away" phrase that I like, "Don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you." I heard that in South Carolina -- a song on the radio.