Mexican standoff

Posted by Masakim on December 28, 2001

In Reply to: Mexican standoff posted by ESC on December 28, 2001

: : I want to know if anyboby knows where this phrase originated., not what it stands for or means to some people today? I think I know the real story; please help me with this anyone from New Mexico.

: I'm not from New Mexico. But here's what I found:
: MEXICAN STANDOFF -- A couple of references I checked say we get "Mexican standoff" from the same regional chauvinism that gives us "Dutch treat," etc. Everything south of the border was considered inferior to U.S. stuff. Apparently, having a gunfight was considered a point of pride, so a gunfight where no shots were fired - a Mexican standoff - was inferior and thereby "Mexican." The Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977) calls Dutch treat, etc., examples of "derogatory epithets aimed at neighboring countries." They also list phrases pertaining to Mexico. ".The expression 'Mexican athlete' is used to describe an athlete who goes out for the team but doesn't make it. A 'Mexican promotion' is one in which an employee gets a fancy new title -- but no increase in pay. And a 'Mexican breakfast' consists of a cigarette and a glass of water. So a 'Mexican standoff' is a situation from which nothing at all can be expected." The Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997) says Mexican standoff is "A stalemate, a confrontation that neither side can win. Originally an American cowboy expression describing a gun battle with no clear winner, the words date back to the mid-19th century. It is often used to describe a pitching duel in baseball today."

: Also, check the archives under "Mexican."

Mexican standoff
A cowboy's expression for an escape from a serious difficulty. Early-day cowboys claimed that if a Mwxican did not win quickly in a gun fight, or if he found much opposition, he left in a hurry.
From _Western Words, New Edition_ by Ramon F. Adams