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Posted by ESC on June 20, 2003

In Reply to: Hell-served-for-breakfast posted by Vladimir on June 20, 2003

: This expression was used in 'The Quitter' by R.W. Service.
: Would you help me with the meaning of it? Here is the first
: stanza of this verse:

: When you're lost in the Wild, and you're scared as a child,
: And Death looks you bang in the eye,
: And you're sore as a boil, it's according to Hoyle
: To cock your revolver and ... die.
: But the Code of a Man says: ``Fight all you can,''
: And self-dissolution is barred.
: In hunger and woe, oh, it's easy to blow ...
: It's the hell-served-for-breakfast that's hard.

: Thanks in advance

The expression is close enough to these (from the archives) that there must be a connection:

SCATTERED FROM HERE TO BREAKFAST - "Scattered over a great distance. 'The kids are all grown.Scattered from here to breakfast and all doing all right.'' (Jack Schaefer, 'The Kean Land,' 1953). From the "Happy Trails: Western Words and Sayings" section of the "Facts on File Dictionary of American Regionalisms" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 2000).

My guess is that it refers to cattle who are scattered so far that it will take all night and until breakfast the next day to round them up.

HELL-BENT FOR BREAKFAST - "Very fast. 'I was going lickety-spilt, hell-bent for breakfast, trying to head off a gotch-earred brown stallion and his bunch.' (J. Frank Dobie, 'Coronado's Children,' 1931). Also from "Happy Trails."