Posted by Smokey Stover on September 09, 2004
In Reply to: German Origin? posted by Bookworm on September 09, 2004
: : How did the term 'get fresh' come to mean become flirtatious? Why fresh?
: Here's what I found from M-W. Perhaps someone with knowledge of German could help.
: 4 [probably by folk etymology from German frech] : disposed to take liberties : IMPUDENT
As they say in the Valley: "What he said." The OED tells us that "fresh," in Goddess' sense, originated in the U.S., was probably influenced by Ger. frech (=saucy, impudent), and means "Forward, presumptuous, pert; bold immodest." These words all have fluid and often overlapping meanings. The OED citations begin in 1848, with the emphasis on impertinent and presumptuous. Since the 1920s the meaning of sexually impertinent or forward has been prominent, without displacing the original meaning. In a 1932 work the U.S. President says, "These Britishers are getting too fresh." The meaning of sexually forward has threatened to overwhelm the other meanings, but I believe it is still possible for, say, a mother to scold her children for being fresh in the sense of rude or impertinent. And I doubt that there would be any mistaking someone responding to an expression of impertinence with "Don't get fresh with me!" As for the eggs: it was a favorite practical joke in my almost harmless youth to call up a grocer and ask if his eggs were fresh. If he answered "Yes," you said, "Then turn them over and spank them." (In those days you sometimes got spanked for being fresh, that is, impertinent.) SS