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"Snowing down south"

Posted by Gary Martin on April 07, 2006

In Reply to: "Snowing down south" posted by R. Berg on April 07, 2006

: : : "Snowing down south" - I understand this to be a polite way of saying "you are showing your petticoat below your skirt". Does anyone know the origin?

: : Petticoat? If so, it's probably a pretty old phrase. I'm no expert on women's undergarments, but I think that for quite a number of years the word slip has been used more commonly than petticoat. What's the difference? Depends on who's been doing the defining. The word slip came into use in the 18th century, first applied to a garment with sleeves. One dictionary records the slip as being a dress-length undergarment suspended from narrow shoulder straps--as I have always been led to believe. The OED, however, says that in the 20th century the word slip was applied to an underskirt (sc., by implication, rather than the full-length garment). In the U.S. I'm pretty sure that women would have described this garment as a half-slip, although "you're slip is showing" still applied. But since a slip was women's underwear, ergo unmentionable (during a certain past era), "snowing down south" was a genteel way around mentioning the unmentionable. Comments, anyone? SS

: SS, I've long wondered what the OED means by "sc."

: Yes, "slip" is what we call the garment now, and one that hangs from the waist is a half-slip.

: "It's snowing down south" is listed in Eric Partridge's "Dictionary of Catch Phrases American and British." Partridge says it's Australian, current during the late 1940s and the 1950s "but rapidly less since then," and it may have reached Australia from the U.S. It was known in the U.S. as early as the 1930s, Partridge says.

I remember it being used in the 1950s and 60s in the UK.