Cat on a hot tin roof
Posted by Smokey Stover on December 21, 2004
In Reply to: Daddy posted by ESC on December 21, 2004
: : : This phrase has been used alot in the past 2 decades but I'm interested to know what the true origin of it is. I know all about the sexual and sport related meanings, but when was it used first and by whom? Any info would be appreciated.
: : Start here. We discussed this a bit in the run up to the world series.
: daddy - "a male lover, 1912; sugar daddy, 1918; big daddy, a male who gives women a sense of security, as a protective, aggressive older man, popularized in Tennessee Williams' 1955 Pulitzer Prize winning play 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof'." From I Hear America Talking: An Illustrated History of American Words and Phrases by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976).
: Another reference dates the use of "daddy" back to the 1600s. "daddy n. 1. (used esp. in direct address to refer to an older man). (The speakers of 1682 quot. are prostitutes who also use the word 'papa'.1681 in Otway 'Words II' 106: We might be dead for all of you, you naughty Dady, you.3a. a male lover, boyfriend, or husband (esp.) the lover and protector of a prostitute; pimp. 1909 (A song) I've got a lovin daddy/who cert'nly can love sweet.3b (Esp. Southern & Black English) - sweetheart - used in direct address to a man." From Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, A-G by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994
Since Tennessee Williams' play came out as a movie, with Burl Ives as Big Daddy, I've hardly heard of Burl Ives again, although he was one of the favorite folk-singers of those days. He sang tuneful songs with gusto and with a pleasant, resonant voice; he was very easy to listen to. And I've never heard anyone since then refer to the full figure of speech of which "Cat on a hot tin roof" is an abridgment. The full saying is: "busier than a cat trying to bury **** on a hot tin roof." Excellent metaphor, I always thought. SS