To coin a phrase
Posted by Smokey Stover on May 04, 2005
In Reply to: Peas in a pod posted by Steve E on May 03, 2005
: : : : : : In reading the old book "Try and Stop Me" by Bennet Cerf, I came across this passage: "...the Doctors Piccard, are exact Peas in a podtwins, as identical, to coin a phrase, as peas in a pod." Is it possible that this is the first time the phrase "Peas in a pod" was used as an idiom? The book was published in 1944. I find it hard to believe that Bennet Cerf coined the phrase... but maybe.
: : : : : I've found a reference from 1905, but I doubt that it is the origin.
: : : : Bennett had an impish sense of humor.
: : : Mr. Cerf (yes, his first name has two t's) was just playing with his readers. Saying "to coin a phrase" there was a way of apologizing for using such a blatant cliché.
: : I frequently hear 'to coin a phrase' used in a way which is totally contrary to its actual meaning. Many speakers and writers seem to be under the impression that it means something like 'to use an old phrase', rather than to invent a new one. This is sadly the case even with reasonably intelligent people one would think would know better.
: : DFG
: I agree with DFG. Maybe Mr. Cerf was thinking "to use a phrase" but it came out "to coin a phrase". Surprising that he would slip up like that.
Bob and Bergie are right. It's not just Cerf, but practically everyone else that says "to coin a phrase" when no phrase is actually coined, that is trying to be humorous. Or at least in the U.S.A. No, no, no, Cerf did not slip, nor do all those other wags who find humor in this contradictory use of the cliche. Cerf was a very bright man, with (as Bob noted) an impish sense of humor. SS