Posted by Smokey Stover on May 23, 2007
In Reply to: Not so far from wrong posted by Smokey Stover on May 23, 2007
: : Yesterday I heard a readio announcer use the phrase "not so far from wrong" to mean "nearly correct." This reminded me of a long-standing puzzle in my mind about lyrics from the song "Spurs That Jingle, Jangle, Jingle": and that song isn't very far from wrong. In both cases the meaning is exactly the opposite, i.e. nearly correct, not nearly wrong. Does anyone know the origin of this turn of phrase?
: I don't think I'll find this in a dictionary, although it might turn up in some regional or slang dictionary. In the case of "Spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle," it is possible that the line cited by Bruce is entirely dreamed up to fill the space with something that rhymes, or to find a way of ending a line with "wrong."
: I've got spurs that jingle jangle jingle
: As I go riding merrily along
: And they sing, "Oh, ain't you glad you're single, And that song ain't so very far from wrong
: Oh Maryanne, oh Maryanne,
: Though we done some moonlight walkin'
: This is why I up and ran. (Chorus)
: (More verses, of which O Lilybelle etc. is probably the best known).
: I've not heard the expression used earlier than that. The song, usually known as "Jingle, jangle, single," first appeared in the movie "Lost Canyon" , and was composed by Joseph J. Lilley, with lyrics by Frank Loesser.
: In the late 1990s there appears to have been a vogue among teenagers/young adults for saying "You're not wrong", when what they mean is "You're right", at least in Movieland. Go figure.
On second thought, I believe Loesser, in writing the lyrics to "Jingle jangle jingle," was familiar with the phrase "far from wrong." My shallow effort at finding this phrase didn't turn it up, but I'm certain it was in reasonably wide use long before 1942. You can't set your watch by what I'm certain of, of course, but "far from wrong" means, no doubt, "pretty nearly correct." How nearly would that be? You really have to go by context, of which I have been unable to supply an example.