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Go fly a kite

Posted by ESC on August 10, 2011 at 13:20

In Reply to: Go fly a kite posted by James Briggs on August 10, 2011 at 10:43:

: : : Anyone know the origin of the phrase: "Go fly a kite!"?

: : I looked in several references and didn't find the phrase. That was surprising. The one that did have "go fly a kite" said it originated in the United States and cited The American Thesaurus of Slang, 1942, Lester V. Berry and Melvin Van Den Bark.

: This is what The Cassell Dictionary of Slang, 1998, says:

: fly a kite, to phr.1 1 [mid-19C] to obtain credit against bills, whether or not the 'paper' is valid or fraudulent (cf. RAISE THE WIND). 2 [late 19C] to raise money. 3 [1930S+] to pass a dud cheque, ext. as fly a dodgy kite. [SE fly + KITE n.1]

: fly a kite, to phr.2 1 (late 19C] to make public, to publicize. 2 [20C] (US) to show off, to make a big display. 3 [1920s+] to present a false front or a deceitful line of talk in order to persuade one's victim that one's intentions are other than they really are. 4 [193()s+] to sound out public opinion, by taking initial steps in a given project or idea.

: fly a kite at. to phr. [mid-19C] to court, to pursue a woman.

I found it in newspapers back to the mid 1920s: "Go fly a kite" was among "provocative" taunts "of youth of other days that are back." The Sad Decline of Expressionism, column in the San Antonio Express, 08 Jan 1926, Page 8. And there was a 1939 song -- Go Fly a Kite -- sung by Bing Crosby. I always think about Benjamin Franklin when hearing this phrase. I don't know if there's a connection.