phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Free lunch

Posted by Ssmokey Stover on April 18, 2004

In Reply to: Free lunch posted by ESC on April 17, 2004

: : hello! do you have any idea about what it means?

: Nothing is free. There is a cost for everything. If someone gives you a "free lunch," he or she wants something for it. Maybe not money. But something.

: FREE LUNCH - "...Nobel economics laureate Milton Friedman has published articles, a book and lectures using the title, 'There is no such thing as a free lunch.' His meaning is that everything, even what is seemingly 'free,' must be paid for by somebody in some way and that there is no sense in hiding that fact. Reached by letter, Dr. Friedman replied that he had no idea where his much-quoted phrase comes from.Slanguist Stuart Berg Flexner offered the author this help: 'Free lunch dates from the 1840s and was supposed to have moved from the West to the East, getting fancier as it approached eastern bars and hotels, so sometime after the late 1840s I can just see some bartender slapping the hands of a customer and asking him to buy that 5 cent beer before shoveling in the victuals.'" From "Safire's New Political Dictionary" by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993).


It always pains me when Milton Friedman is right about something, as he clearly is here. I think that what keeps the phrase "Free Lunch" alive and well is the memory of the American Depression, when bars could realistically offer "Free lunch" with their beer, since food was cheaper than beer. Actually, most Americans, even if they will not admit it, really do believe in the free lunch, the pie in the sky, the slogans that unscrupulous politicians (is there any other kind?) use to pull them in. Alas, the politicians often believe their own propaganda and think there's a free lunch. SS