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Posted by R. Berg on October 22, 2002

In Reply to: walking papers and the use of 'Fired' posted by James Briggs on October 22, 2002

: : walking papers: a statement that one is fired from one's job, dismissal.
: : e.g. He was given his walking papers from his firm.

: Where does 'fired' come from?
: The words "you're fired" are often used to tell someone that they've lost their job; have been discharged. The similarity between "fired" and "discharged" may suggest a connection with firearms. I can find no real origin in any of my reference books, other than suggesting the analogy with firing a gun. However, one day, I was sent the following which appeared in the Clevedon, Somerset, Civic Society Newsletter for Summer 1996:
: "We discovered recently that the word 'fired', meaning discharged from a job originated on Mendip. It comes from Item 6 of the Laws of Mendip Miners.
: "If any man... do pick or steale any lead or ore to the value of xiiid, the Lord or his Officer may arrest all his lead and Oare House or hearthes with his Grooves and Workes and keep them in forfeit... and shall take the person that hath soe affeended and bring him where his house or worke and all his tooles and instruments are... and put him into his house or worke and set fire in all together about him and banish him..." Fired indeed!

: Please debate!

The OED labels "fire" (v.) in the sense of "dismiss" U.S. slang. It says "It has been suggested that this sense is derived from 8, but this seems unlikely." Sense 8 is "To drive (any one) away from a place by fire; with 'out', 'out of', 'from', or equivalent const."

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