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:


No Phase of Life Too Sacred for Flippant Words Not in Dictionary


....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:

"It's butter."