Cliche Sunday

Or maybe Cliche Tuesday? I had a busy weekend, capped off by an afternoon of shopping and gazing at Christmas lights with my husband on Sunday. But after letting last weekend go because I was whupped, I felt I needed to do a post. And so we are on ‘E’s. Discerning readers may note a subcategory tonight–all clichés are Americanisms as well. Easy as Pie!

easy as pie: very easy indeed. I have never been very good at making pie, so I rather assumed it was the eating of pie that inspired this saying.  This theory is borne out by an early reference in an American magazine:

As for stealing second and third, it’s like eating pie
Sporting Life, May 1886

The phrase was coined in America, (probably from our love of Apple pie).  Mark Twain helped the usage  along, using the phrases “nice as pie” and “old pie” in several novels.

elephant in the room: the obvious issue that people don’t wish to speak about as it an uncomfortable subject. Also an Americanism,coined during the mid-twentieth century. There are scattered references to the term from 1950 on. The first clear usage of the term  was in 1984 as the title of a book:

An elephant in the living room: a leader’s guide for helping children of alcoholics
Typpo and Hasting

eighty-six: to quickly stop something from happening. This was coined from the restaurant trade in America,  meaning to get rid of an item, or that an item wasn’t available. Another meaning of eighty-six was to refuse service to an unwelcome customer. The phrase may have several different origins that came together to bring it to prominence:

A reference to article 86 of the New York state liquor code which defines when bar patrons should be refused service.

From Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City. Item number 86 on their menu, their house steak, was often unavailable during the restaurant’s early years.

From Chumley’s Bar and restaurant at 86 Bedford Street in Greenwich Village NYC.

elvis has left the building: something (event, discussion, whatever) is over, it is time to go home. Definitely an Americanism, this phrase was used by Elvis’ announcer Al Dorvin to encourage fans to go home, there would be no more encores that night.

Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building. Thank you and goodnight.
Al Dorvin

 

 

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