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Old 07-06-2009, 06:12 PM is offline
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Danger? Danger is my middle name!

What is the origin of the saying "Danger? Danger is my middle name!" The kids these days say "Austin Powers", but as a 40 year-old that got the he-entered-his-name-wrong-and-waited-decades-to-tell-the-punchline joke, I don't buy it. The correct answer is important to me, because, well, Danger is my (legal) middle name!

The best list of movie quotes that I can find is here, but most of these are far more recent than I believe this saying to-be:

Thank you,

Last edited by; 07-06-2009 at 06:17 PM.
Old 07-06-2009, 06:35 PM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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This seems to have been asked here before, with the earliest use being 1966 and the earliest use of the exact phrase being E.B. White's 1970 The Trumpet of the Swan.

Last edited by Dr. Drake; 07-06-2009 at 06:36 PM.
Old 07-06-2009, 06:46 PM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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And if you want to take it really far back, the cliché might have been inspired by a line from the Renaissance poet Spenser. From the Faerie Queene, book IV, verse XVII:

His [a hideous giant's] name was Daunger dreaded ouer all,
Who day and night did watch and duely ward,
From fearefull cowards, entrance to forstall,
And faint-heart-fooles, whom shew of perill hard
Could terrifie from Fortunes faire adward:
For oftentimes faint hearts at first espiall
Of his grim face, were from approaching scard;
Vnworthy they of grace, whom one deniall
Excludes from fairest hope, withouten further triall.
Old 07-06-2009, 07:25 PM
samclem samclem is offline
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I have no doubt that this phrase in various forms has been used for the past 75 years.

I can find a newspaper story from 1943, about the men who served on a destroyer in WWII and the names of the ships.

Each named after an outstanding American naval hereo, but their middle name is Danger.
Old 07-06-2009, 11:22 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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"No anchovies? You've got the wrong man. I spell my name Danger!"
Old 07-07-2009, 08:31 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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"That's just a two-bit ring from a crackerback jox."
"If a person saying he was something was all there was to it, this country'd be full of rich men and good-looking women. Too bad it isn't that easy.... In short, when someone else says you're a writer, that's when you're a writer... not before."
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Old 07-07-2009, 08:40 AM
tanstaafl tanstaafl is offline
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"I sat at my desk, reading my name on the office door: Regnad Kcin"
Old 07-07-2009, 09:30 AM
furryman furryman is offline
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"Comfort? Comfort is my middle name!"
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Old 07-07-2009, 11:32 AM
zut zut is offline
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It seems to me that "danger is my middle name" is just a variation on a general statement "X is my middle name," where X is some noun used to emphasize an aspect of your personality or experience or attitude.

A cursory glance of Google Books turns up the following early examples:

"Transportation is my middle name" from 1915 in "Upkeep" by John N wheeler in Pearson's Magazine.

"Porpoise is my middle name" from 1909 in The Submarine Boys' Trial Trip by Victor G. Durham.

"Deserving is my middle name" from an 1897 magazine (but only a snippet view, so this may be misleading).

(Also, from 1954, a play with the exact phrase "danger is my middle name" in it.)

Last edited by zut; 07-07-2009 at 11:35 AM.
Old 07-07-2009, 12:35 PM
NicePete NicePete is offline
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Melanie Haber? Audrey Farber? Susan Underhill?

How about Betty Jo Bialoski? (aka Nancy)
Old 07-07-2009, 03:43 PM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is offline
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Exactly to Zut. Danger is my middle name is not a specific line as such, it's one of many "[attribute] is my middle name" lines. The joke "Danger is my middle name" is indeed from Austin Powers in that it was a line from that movie where Austin was suggesting that Danger really is his middle name. I.e., the Austin Powers joke is based on the very old cliche. So it depends on how you say it. If you say "Danger's my middle name baby, yeah", then you're taking it from Austin Powers, if you're just saying "danger's my middle name" in the context of you being a risk taker then it is much much older.
Old 07-07-2009, 04:41 PM
Keeve Keeve is offline
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Originally Posted by 1920s Style "Death Ray" View Post
Exactly to Zut. Danger is my middle name is not a specific line as such, it's one of many "[attribute] is my middle name" lines.
In all seriousness, is this at all related to the practice of naming cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church? It seems very odd (to me) that when someone becomes a cardinal, this title is not placed prior to one's name, but rather between one's given name and family name. For example, why is he called John Cardinal O'Connor instead of Cardinal John O'Connor, or Francis Cardinal Spellman instead of Cardinal Francis Spellman? Does it have anything to do with this "My middle name is __" stuff?
Old 07-07-2009, 04:59 PM
GrandWino GrandWino is offline
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I'm reminded of a quote from "Friends" when Chandler says "Handle is my middle name... actually, it's the middle part of my first name." For some reason that line always made me laugh.


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