Help with old timey phrase.

I am a big fan of W.C. Fields and was recently watching “You’re telling me” (1934) on YouTube. Around (45:34) Sam Brisbee (Fields), speaking to Princess Lescaboura, mutters the phrase “She rolls off my knife” about the haughty Mrs. Murchison. It was such an odd phrase I paused the movie and ran it thru the googles machine, to my astonishment only one other mention comes up from a 1938 newspaper soap opera like story called “Two’s Company”.

It didn’t give me any context either, so I called my authority on all things ancient…my 90 year old mother who thank God still has mind of a 17 year old. She had never heard of it. So, now I turn to you Cecil to solve this mystery. Can you help.


I’ve never come across this before, but if you try googling without the pronoun, several other usages come up, all suggesting it’s used to mean someone’s indifferent to whatever it is, or that the point of it escapes them. I suppose it might be connected to the old comic idea about trying to eat peas with a knife?

I am sure it refers to eating peas with a knife and means something like - hard to control/hard to keep.

That was my initial thought too.

I eat my peas with honey;
I’ve done it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny,
But it keeps them on the knife.

(Anonymous, and therefore postable in full; text from here.)

According to Eve of SDMB it means something that is found uninteresting:

As in:

This board is amazing sometimes. So fun, and now I know a new oldfashioned phrase.

I think it’s something like “it rolls off me like water off a duck’s back.”

An American lady I knew used to say ‘That rolls off my back like a wet duck’.

Which I think has a pleasant ring to it.

That would be a sight to see.

Thanks for all the replys, I think from the context we can all agree on the meaning. I think he was using it in a sarcastic way by saying “she doesn’t bother me”…but really meaning I’d like to cut her throat…lol.

What I’m interested in is the origins of the phrase.

Perhaps it’s similar to pushing food around on a plate rather than eating it.