As puzzling as all getout

Posted by Smokey Stover on March 30, 2005

In Reply to: As puzzling as all getout posted by Chip on March 30, 2005

: I know that "all getout" seems to be used as a simile to create an easy superlative for just about anything, but does anyone know the origin of, or basis for, the phrase?

: Thx

You're right about how getout is used. Here's the OED definition of "get-out": "1. Phr. as or like (all) get-out, used to indicate a high degree of something." The parenthesis around "all" is there because as early as 1869 the phrase "as getout" was used in the way "as all getout" is now. The first appearance of "all" in the phrase is, according to the OED, in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn . But as for origin, the OED is not much help. It's obviously connected somehow to "get out" as "leave" or "escape." It brings to mind the use of the phrase, "Get out of here!" This phrase is often used to express astonishment, sort of a synonym of "You can't be serious!" I don't mean that there's a connection between the two phrases, only that in both phrases "get out" has wildly morphed in terms of meaning. SS