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Done your dash

Posted by Graham Cambray on March 09, 2009 at 02:31

In Reply to: Done your dash posted by Graham Cambray on March 09, 2009 at 02:14:

: : Can someone pls tell me the origin of the phrase "you've done your dash" (used in Australia frequently), meaning you've ruined your chance or opportunity?

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: The phrase may have shifted its meaning over the years. Today, it generally means what you say - for example, at "done (one's) dash - to have lost (one's) chance or opportunity." But the earliest example I can find is in a volume of earthy poems, heavy on the Aussie slang: The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke / Dennis, C. J. (Clarence James). The foreword is dated 1st September, 1915. He uses the phrase several times, but the one where the meaning is most clear is:
: "I'm crook; me name is Mud; I've done me dash;
: Me flamin' spirit's got the flamin' 'ump!". And, helpfully, he gives a sort of glossary, which includes:
: "Dash, to do-one's -- To reach one's Waterloo."
: So the original meaning seems to give up, or be beaten.
: Oddly, that sense still seems to survive in Oz today. If, instead of Googling for "He's done his dash" or "You've done your dash" - where the meaning is that of lost opportunities - you search for "I've done my dash", you get a subtly different meaning - more "I've made all the effort I want to make" or "I've given up trying".
: This is now just surmise, but maybe originally "dash" in the sense of strenuous progress rather than speed? "Done his dash" = "Made his effort" ???
: So I can't claim to have really pinned the origins of this phrase, but at least I've got it back to around 1915, and touched on it's meaning then. (GC)

Sorry - forgot to give a link to the 1915 poems -"the original meaning seems to be to give up, or be beaten". (GC)