Date: Mon, 8 Jun 1998 19:12:27 -0500
From: Gerald Cohen
Subject: Re: "You the man."

In a 5/8/98 message, Avi Arditti wrote:

>I've heard this expression a few times lately -- most recently, when
I helped a fellow break into his car, and he thanked me thusly. Any ideas
on its origin?

---The expression is given in Clarence Major's _Juba To Jive: A Dictionary
of African-American Slang_, 1994, although not with the specific meaning
"Thank you":

YOU THE MAN (1900-s-1990s) a phrase or response meaning "you're in
charge," "whatever you
say goes," " et cetera. This expression has changed in the ninety
years or so that it has been popular
in black informal speech. Originally a woman's line addressed to a
man, usually her husband or
lover, about half the time used ironically. In the thirties, black
men used it ironically in addressing
white men--and in come cases black men--who happened to be their
bosses. In the eighties young
black men began using it as an ironic compliment.

--Gerald Cohen