Sayings that aren't as old as you think they are

I’d say it’s likely the author of GoT used the phrase knowing that it already existed. Of course it is imbued with particular meaning in the universe he was writing, because summer and winter have particular meanings there.

“Say the quiet part (out) loud” is from a 1995 Simpsons episode.

Getting your ducks in a row? 1900’s or thereabouts

It’s even more common, of course, in music — where the young’uns think a popular cover is the original song, or they’re unaware of the 1970s sample that makes up 60% of (and ALL of the hook of) some 2000s R and B hit.

(As for this thread, the “saying the quiet part out loud” and “Jehosephat” are legitimate examples that have been the most interesting so far, to me. I use Jehosephat often to mean “person X” in a slightly jocular context - and until now I assumed it was an Old Testament personage.)

Similarly, recently whenever anyone mentions “the customer is always right”, someone always butts in to say that the “original” is actually “the customer is always right in matters of taste”, but I can’t find the longer phrase in discussion of its origins. The shorter phrase may be too glib, in that it only means to go out of your way to treat customer concerns seriously and liberally, not to always agree with them no matter what, but it is still a maxim about generous customer service, not a maxim about only providing the product the customer asks for.

I think “Bonkers”, a Britishism meaning mad or crazy, is also familiar in the US. In my mind, this would be a well established expression used by Bertie Wooster, for example.

The first Jeeves and Wooster book was published in 1915. Bonkers is first recorded (according to Eric Partridge) as (Royal) Naval slang for drunk in around 1920, morphing to something like it’s current use (again, Naval) around 1925, but not in general use until around 1940. Somewhat later than I would have thought.

(Unrelated to this thread, I looked it up a few days ago because I was wondering if it was rhyming slang - it isn’t.)


There is also “Don’t Mess with Texas” which comes from a 1970s anti-litter campaign and has nothing to do with the alleged badass-ness of Texans.

I’m not sure what I would have guessed, but I certainly wouldn’t have guess that it is younger than that. Despite feeling approximately that old, its youth makes me feel old because I remember playing a board game called “Bonkers” in the early 80s, and the board game is now older than the generalized use of the word was when the board game appeared.

It doesn’t feel like the 1980s are currently what the 1940s were in the 1980s, but that’s what the math works out to.

Distinguo. I don’t think it really is “more or less the same connotation”. I don’t think that linked 1865 example is trying to convey some kind of compassionately ironic lament for the inevitable naivete of the “summer child” in question, which is definitely how the GoT idiom comes across:

That 1865 quote, on the other hand, is part of a dedication with a very different tone: “To you, our first-born, my sweet ‘summer-child’, I dedicate this unpretending story. It will serve, in future years, to remind you of your sunny girlhood, when we talked over its characters and scenes […]”

No ironic mix of tenderness and foreboding there. No looming menace of periodic catastrophe and hardship that the innocent “summer-child” can’t be expected to understand yet. A much more simple and straightforward affectionate tribute to one who is, literally, a child in summer.

Darts commentator Sid Waddell was using the “Alexander wept” line in 1984, 4 years before Die Hard was released.

“When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer … [Eric] Bristow’s only 27.”

(Bristow was born in 1957)

For that example, I don’t disagree, but the expression, said an ironic or sarcastic derision of naivety, existed before GoT.

I realise the article I linked about this is just another person’s assertion of course, so take it or leave it.

It is (with a slightly different spelling): Jehoshaphat was a king of Judah, whose reign is described in 2 Chronicles 17 to 21. He is generally treated as a good and successful king.

The wikipedia article itself notes the use of “Jehosaphat” as a substitute for “Jesus” in oaths. It dates the first usage a bit further back than Yosemite Sam, citing the spelling “Jumpin’ Geehosofat” in an 1865 novel called The Headless Horseman by Thomas Mayne Reid.

I’ve always heard it used in that way, as a sort of exclamation of surprise or consternation. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it used as just a jocular reference to some random person.

Bob Hope didn’t live to see himself a villain? Bob “The American military never made a wrong move” Hope? Bob “I’m golfing with the Republican President today” Hope? Hope not.

“We have met the enemy and he is us” is from 1970, from Walt Kelly’s poster for the first Earth Day. A lot of people seem to think he used a familiar quote and just illustrated it, but he appears to have originated the phrase.

Ed Norton: “As we say in the sewer, water is thicker than blood”. :grinning:

Not a saying but a word: scam. According to Merriam-Webster, its first use as a noun dates to 1958 and 1963 as a verb. I thought it went back a lot further.

I started a thread on a similar topic years ago when I found out that the high-five only originated sometime around 1980.

Yeah, I think it’s just me that uses “Jehosephat” that way.
So it is an Old Testament character. The observation of @Jackmannii doesn’t surprise me at all, then — mid-1800s frontier US is exactly when and where I would have guessed the expressive use of the name would have originated.

“Scam,” though — that is a very recent coinage (circa 1960) for such a commonly used word.

I’d say it’s the current use that’s confusing. Other countries use Red for the more left-wing party, and Blue for the more right-wing party.

I knew that “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” was fairly new, but not as recent as 2003:

You probably know this, but the phrase is a play on Oliver Hazard Perry’s dispatch after defeating the British squadron on Lake Erie during the War of 1812: “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”