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Posted by ESC on June 02, 2000

In Reply to: Mitto mittere misi missum posted by Bruce Kahl on June 02, 2000

: I don't think the term has anything to do with a glove.
: The word "mitten" would be derived from the latin "mitto" which is conjugated thusly: mitto mittere misi missum.
: Mitto means to send, dispatch; to send as a gift; to fling; to shed; to utter; to let go, release, give up; to dismiss, discharge; to pass over.
: We have tons of words from mitto:
: transmit, emit, permit etc.

: Fired:
: Just my thought: As a projectile is "fired" or discharged from a gun so is a person who has been let go or discharged from his job.
: Just my unbackupable ( unbackupable?? ) theory!!

Fired -- Two sources say the original phrase was "fired out." Maybe that's some sort of clue.

Stuart Berg Flexner, in Listening to America: An Illustrated History of Words and Phrases from Our Lively and Splendid Past (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982) has a chapter on "Unions, Factories, and Strikes." He says:

"fire. The easiest way to get rid of a union member was to fire that person. 'Fire' has meant to dismiss from employment since 1885, with to 'fire (out)' having meant to eject or throw a person out since 1871. Although 'fire' has become the most common word, a boss could also 'give (one) one's walking papers,' 1825, or 'walking ticket,' 1835; 'sack' someone, 1840, who is then said 'to get the sack,'...'get the bounce,' 1879; 'get the boot,' 1888; experience a 'lay off,' 1889; be 'shopped,' 1915, figuratively be thrown out of the shop; 'get the blue envelope,' 1927; 'get the pink slip,' 1930s; 'get the skids,' 1936; or, in the case of an executive, 'get the kiss off, 1950s. The workers then, of course, have to 'hit the asphalt,' 1909, or 'pound the pavement,' 1923, to look for another job."

Mr. Flexner added some more modern terms in "Speaking Freely: A Guided Tour of American English from Plymouth Rock to Silicon Valley," (Oxford University Press, New York, 1997) written with Anne H. Soukhanov. "Corporate downsizing," 1975, with downsizing taken from the auto industry's production of compact cars; "downshifting," being forced to take a less well-paying job; "outsourcing," farming out jobs to providers outside the company; and "golden parachutes," 1981, financial protection for executives.

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