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Origin of "walking papers"?

Posted by Masakim 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.

give someone his (or her) walking papers v phr (Variations: running shoes or walking ticket may replace walking papers) entry form by 1825 To dismiss or discharge; reject: "If he doesn't stop seeing other women she'll give him his walking papers" / "When he objected to the new policy they gave him his running shoes"
walking papers (or ticket) n phr by 1820s A dismissal or discharge; esp. rejection; = PINK SLIP: "Two baseball veterans got their walking papers" --Associated Press
From Dictionary of American Slang by Robert L. Chapman

As for the bumpkin, her lover, he must take his walking papers. (Samuel Woodworth, _Forest Rose or, American Farmers_, 1825)

The department gave him his walking-papers. (Henry Clay Lewis, _Odd Leaves from the Life of a Louisiana Swamp Doctor_, 1850)

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