View Full Version : the phrase "86"

curious john
01-18-2000, 07:28 PM
I have been searching for years for the origination of the phrase "to be 86'ed" It is used in bars and restaurants to indicate someone who has had too much to drink and is cut off. Where did it come from?

Patty O'Furniture
01-18-2000, 07:42 PM
Years? Nothing like having a purpose in life.

I think the origin is restaurants, as you suspect, but not to cut somebody off. It was used (along with a whole list of other code numbers) to indicate to the wait staff that the kitchen had run out of some item on the menu. "86 the creamed chipped beef", the cook might shout out from the kitchen. Since the number of customers within earshot of this announcement usually was far greater than the wait staff, I can see how this might have caught on so quickly.

Nothing magic about the number, "out of some item" just happened to fall into position number 86 on the list of codes, I imagine. What I can't imagine, is what the other 85 things were. I hope I don't spend years looking for the answer to that.

01-18-2000, 07:54 PM
Cops, I think it was.

I only know two things;
I know what I need to know
I know what I want to know
Mangeorge, 2000

01-18-2000, 08:15 PM
Geez, you don’t have to search all over the place, just ask us!

Many people trace the phrase back to Chumley’s (http://newyork.citysearch.com/E/V/NYCNY/0003/56/53/cs1.html) , a speakeasy located at 86 Bedford St. in New York (it’s still there, there’s still no sign, but the booze is legal now). IIRC the story, to be 86’ed was to be thrown out of the bar on the Bedford Street side, whereas the entrance was around the corner on Barrow St.

However, there is some disagreement on this subject, which disagreement is conveniently located here (http://www.ccp14.ac.uk/ccp/web-mirrors/xtalview-mcree/pub/dem-web/misrael/auefaq3.html#'Eighty-six'='nix') .

Livin' on Tums, vitamin E and Rogaine

01-18-2000, 08:53 PM
I've heard a different story about the origin which may or may not have some truth to it, I don't know.

Back in the old west, whenever some guy was causing trouble in a bar, the bartender would offer him a shot of 86 proof whiskey. The big, tough cowboy, having been offered such a "weak" drink, would be insulted and leave the bar.

01-18-2000, 10:18 PM
Cops, I think it was.
10-86 Operator on duty.
Tode ya... Huh? :D

Boris B
01-18-2000, 10:26 PM
I heard it was a bit of Cockney Rhyming Slang. It rhymes with "nix". The Cockneys' rhyme for an ordinary word is always longer than the word: "trouble and strife" for wife, etc.

"Awwroit boys! You'll have to eight-six the spitting in the house, my trouble-and-strife is on her way home! And no cracks about her Bristol cities!"

Any similarity in the above text to an English word or phrase is purely coincidental.

01-18-2000, 11:30 PM
mangeorge, around here (granted, this is not the most cosmopolitan of areas) a 10-86 is an abandoned vehicle. Just pointless info. A 10-37 is operator on duty.

The Top 10 Greatest Things About Procrastination:


01-18-2000, 11:41 PM
I am reasonably sure Cecil tackled this one,m but I could not find it in the search engine.

Yer pal,

01-19-2000, 01:14 PM
It means both that a restaurant is out of a certain item, but it also means to cut off an obstreperous drunk or get rid of an unruly customer.

BTW, Mel Brooks was familiar with the term, which is why Maxwell Smart was Agent 86.

As far as the origin, dunno.

The Dave-Guy
"since my daughter's only half-Jewish, can she go in up to her knees?" J.H. Marx

01-19-2000, 01:19 PM
Love the sig.
That is all.
Carry on.

The odds that the bread will fall butter side down are directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.

01-19-2000, 06:28 PM
Cecil covered this in The Straight Dope, Where does the term "86" come from? (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_291b.html), and leans toward the "rhymes with nix" theory.