In Reply to: All get out posted by Victoria S Dennis on February 11, 2010 at 11:50:
: : : : : : : : "All get out". I believe has its origins in the idiomatic use of the word "ought" - as in 'duty' or 'what's coming to me'. Northern England: "I took out this bird, 'til I realized I wouldn't get ought from her".
: : : : : : : 'All get out' is a new idiom on me.
: : : : : : : I think you are muddling 'ought', i.e. 'should', with 'owt', the Northern English dialect term for 'anything'.
: : : : : : : 'Owt' and 'nowt', which derive from the Scots 'aught' and 'naught' are still commonplace in Yorkshire and I hear them every day here. There's no sense in which they mean 'duty'.
: : : : : :
: : : : : : The Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. get-out, has this:
: : : : : : 1. Phr. as or like (all) get-out, used to indicate a high degree of something.
: : : : : : Their first citation is from 1838, and the meaning, up to the present, remains unchanged. It is at least as common in North America as in the British Isles, and I would guess a great deal more so.
: : : : : : I don't know why "get-out" came to be used in this way, but I would be extremely surprised if it had anything to do with ought or nowt or any words other than get and out.
: : : : : : Another interesting colloquialism, which may be more common this side of the pond but is nevertheless understood on yon side, is the interjection, "Get out!" It is spoken exactly as though the speaker wanted the spoken to to get himself hence; but actually it's just an expression of incredulity and surprise. It is interesting to hear tiny Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) say it emphatically to her watcher, the tweedy Brit Giles, who is nonplussed for a moment by this cheeky command.
: : : : : : SS
: : : : : I can't think why he should be nonplussed! Here in Rightpondia we don't normally use "Get out" when we are told something frankly implausible, but we might well say any of the following, depending on taste or regional origin:
: : : : : - Get away! (pronounced Girraweh! in the north-west)
: : : : : - Get hired!
: : : : : - Get along with you!
: : : : : - Give over!
: : : : : - Garn! (Eliza Doolittle-style)
: : : : : (VSD)
: : : : The way I have heard it: That candy is sour as all get out.
: : : In my anecdote about Buffy saying "Get out!" to Giles, the stuffy Brit, I must have been unclear. Buffy interjection nonplussed Giles, because he was unaware that in some contexts and in some places (like southern California, where Sunny dale is located), "Get out!" means "You can't mean it!" To Giles, of course, "Get out!" means "Go away; leave the room." Therefore he didn't know how to respond to Buffy's outburst.
: : : One of my dictionaries says, of the verb "nonplus": "to cause to be at a loss as to what to say, think, or do : PERPLEX
: : : synonym see PUZZLE"
: : : It is a minor point, but Victoria's post seems to imply either that I used the verb incorrectly or that Englishmen cannot be nonplussed so easily.
: : Incidentally, Victoria did not specifically mention "Go on!" which means the same thing as the American slang, "Get out!" She did, however, mention "Garn" which is a low-brow pronunciation of "Go on!" Or so I've been told.
: : SS
: - Sorry: I don't mean that Giles couldn't have been nonplussed by Buffy's reaction; only that the phrase itself would not be likely to nonplus him, as although we don't use the specific phrase "Get out" in that context, we use many very similar ones.
: - And yes, "Garn" is indeed Cockney for "Go on". (VSD)
[Stateside version of "garn" is, or used to be, "g'wan" - I don't know if it's ever spoken unironically now.
[And Smoke y's Buffy story reminds me of a scene from the novel _Giant_ by Edna Ferber, which I had to read in high school for reasons too sociological to be interesting. (Pardon me if the scene was in the movie, which I never saw.) Anyway, some English visitors are leaving after a long stay at the Texas ranch, and as they mount the roll-up stairs to their airplane their hostess calls out: "Y'all come back now!" They climb down to see what she wants - not knowing the phrase is Texan politesse for "Good-bye." - Bac.]