Date: Mon, 16 Sep 1996 01:48:43 -0400
From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
Subject: "NOT" again! "LIKE BUTTER!"
"Like butter!" is featured in an Audi tv commercial I saw today. I
haven't seen "--not!" for a while, but I have something important to add to
the antiquity of both Saturday Night Live-inspired phrases.
This phrase was written up in American Speech three years ago. "Not!"
came from "nit!" Theodore L. Hake's POLITICAL BUTTONS BOOK III 1789-1916
has two "NIT" phrases on Yellow Kid cartoon buttons from 1896 on pg. 154.
An interesting explanation by Ted Sullivan is in the Sporting News, 1 Dec.
1900, pg. 5, col. 5:
He had got on to what the "net" was, too. The interpreter said: "Signor
Sullivan, you will get 40 par a-cent of ze net." So, readers, he was to give
me 40 per cent of the net. As I looked out on the harbor and saw the
management form of the Maine lying submerged in the water, I told the
interpreter that America produced two great compilers of dictionaries, who
occupied different spheres in life. One was Noah Webster, who defined in
pure English the word "net." The other was "Chick" Connors, of the Bowery,
N.Y., who compiled the slang dictionary of America and defined the word
"nit," but under the conditions I would be more afraid of Mr. Connors' word
"nit," if I came to Cuba, than I would of Mr. Webster's "net." I bid them a
farewell and to my relief I left them and their atmosphere of garlic
An interesting article that is a treasure trove of slang is in the
Boston Herald, 22 March 1908, part II, pg. 6, col. 7:
PARIS OUTDOES AMERICAN SLANG
No Phase of Life Too Sacred for Flippant Words Not in Dictionary
SCORE OF REMARKS TO INDICATE DEATH
....lobster...a room to let...he has a spider on his ceiling...he loses
the map...Thousand bombs!...Name of a dog!...[etc.]
The slang expression for one's wife is "ma legitime," a phrase which is
rich in suggestion. The nickname for a comedian is delicious. It is "a have
you seen me?" By the way, if one wants to say a thing is delicious one says: