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Bar none

Posted by Smokey Stover on May 30, 2007

In Reply to: Bar none posted by Bob on May 29, 2007

: : What is the origin of the phrase 'bar none'?

: It's just straightforward and literal. Exclude none. I think any English-speaking person could have said it, bar none.

It was used sometimes in Western stories as a pun identifying a particular ranch. Bar [whatever] often referred to a brand used by a ranch to identify its cattle. A bar was one of the shapes available to branders (that is, on branding irons), and a bar placed over a letter would be read, top to bottom, as, say, Bar M (that is, a bar symbol over the letter M). Bar none would be difficult to represent in an actual brand, but in Western stories and movies nobody ever takes a close look at any actual brands.

Nowadays it is also used as a pun, mostly by bars and inns, but sometimes also where its use is problematical.