Take a powder

Posted by Frankie on April 24, 2000

In Reply to: Take a powder posted by Bruce Kahl on April 22, 2000

: : I've heard this phrase used to mean 'leave quickly' or 'get out of here right away'. Can anyone come up with more about its derivation and usage?

: The "powder" in question is "run-out powder," a powerful laxative or purgative. To tell someone to "take a powder" was to order them to "get lost" in very strong terms.

: I never heard it with that conotation. In old black and white shows and movies, women used this phrase all the time to mean to go to the bathroom and powder their nose. I remember Lucy from the "I Love Lucy" show used to say (when she wanted privacy with Ethel for their mischievous plots) ..."Ethel, your nose is shinny, and mine too..we need to take a powder in the lady's room...we'll you come with me?"
Maybe, this phrase evolved over the years or they're just two similar phrases.