phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

You take and...

Posted by R. Berg on July 18, 2008 at 17:54

In Reply to: You take and... posted by pamela on July 18, 2008 at 00:51:

: : : : : A friend of mine uses the phrase "you take and ..." when describing how to do or make something. I saw it once in a description of how to make moonshine, and heard a preacher use it once. The friend, I think has Missouri in his ancestry and so did the preacher when I asked. Has anyone heard this phrase? I heard a cookshow hostess say "you're gonna" in describing the concoction of a dish and I thought "that's just like 'you take and ...'"

: : : : In 18th-century cookery books one of the standard ways of beginning a recipe is "Take...", as in "Take a Breast of Veal, cut it into pieces...", "Take of Calves-Feet one Pound minced very fine...", "Take your Pigeons, season them..." and so on. "You take" is just a more colloquial version of that opening, so I suspect people have been using it consistently in English for a very long time. (VSD)

: : : I've heard it in my native state -- West Virginia

: : I agree - in Australia I've heard "you take ...", and so much so that it doesn't strike me as odd-sounding at all - it's just the direct address form of "Take a ..." So, if I was writing a recipe I'd say:

: : " Take a mixing bowl and beat the sugar and the butter... Take the eggs in a separate bowl and beat them ..." But if I was explaining it to someone I might say: "You take a mixing bowl ... You take the eggs". Pamela

Mmm, Pamela, it sounds like cake!

"Take a pound of sugar and..." is familiar to me from reading old recipes, the kind that measure sugar by weight. It seems archaic, as recipes are written more compactly now. An art teacher might say "Then you take your burnishing tool and rub across the surface..."

This "take [something] and..." is a concrete, tactile way of giving an instruction. Pick up something and use it. Maybe its use reflects the practices in old English kitchens where refrigeration was absent and fresh foods were available only in season. Cooks had to store quantities of ingredients. They'd keep a large stock of vegetables in the root cellar and take some out as needed.

"Take and..." with no object of the taking is a bit different. It's more like "undertake [a project]" or "betake yourself" (start up, get going). The OED has a huge entry for "take," which has many senses. The ancestral verb meant, at first, "touch, put one's hand on" and later "seize, grab." I didn't read all the tiny print. ~rb