The Straight Dope

Whats the origin of the phrase “the straight dope”? It seems like an obvious question to me yet I don’t believe its ever been asked. Did it preceed the common use of dope to mean drugs? Are the origins similar? So whats the straight dope?

oh man. I am going to go so far out on the branch that my fanny is resting on a thin bough. Nevertheless ( after all, this IS the SD), here we go.
When the brain recieves pleasure inputs, it releases Dopamine.( Amongst other things ). The idea that one would get false, and therefore UNsatisfactory information, is Unpleasurable.
THEREFORE (snicker), when reading the Absolute Truth on any given subject, the brain releases what we all yearn for- The Straight Dopamine.
Donations can be made to the screenname above :slight_smile:

That was a lovely idea. One prob. Pleasure is associated with endorphins, not dopamine. :slight_smile:

Sounds like druggy slang to me. Either it means “the Straight” (true, correct, etc) “Dope” (stuff, shit, whatever), or else it literally means “the uncut stuff”.

If guns are outlawed, then gun owners will be outlaws.

text in quotes is from:

“(dope) derives from the Dutch doop, meaning “sauce”.”

In common usage, it came to mean any semi-liquid, paste-like substance.

“Dope, meaning drug, arose from the practice of smoking a semi-liquid preparation of opium.”

Soon it came to mean any drug.

“The sense of dope meaning “information” dates to around 1900. This sense was first used in the horse-racing
world. Knowing which horse was doped was valuable inside information.”

Since this forum doesn’t seem to work during certain hours of the night, I couldn’t post the below, and I see that someone else now has beaten me to it, but:

I think this is the straight dope on ‘the straight dope’, but it may not be the whole straight dope and nothing but the straight dope:

The phrase does not appear to be an indiom as a whole, but merely draws its meaning from the logical consequence of this sequence of three English words, the latter two as given certain of their multiple meanings. ‘The’ is the normal definite article.

My dictionary [Amer Heritage, 2nd Coll Ed, 1982] lists one meaning of ‘straight’ as “Direct and candid: a straight answer.” One would assume this meaning came about from the more generic meaning, “Extending continuously in the same direction without curving,” as metaphorically designating something not having been contorted by anyone’s mind. Oxymoronically, however, my dictionary says the word is derived from the ME strecchen, to stretch. Perhaps that’s an etymologist’s stretch of imagination. (This dictionary also gives, for the noun ‘straight’, “Slang. A person who does not use illegal drugs.”)

The same dictionary gives, for one meaning of ‘dope’, “Slang. Factual information, esp. of a private nature.” The more generic use of the word is, of course, roughly equivalent to ‘gunk’. My dictionary says, “A viscid substance or liquid, esp… . .” One can erect the metaphor that information is gunk crammed into the mind. Well, if you can’t, I can. This dictionary says the word comes from the Dutch doop, sauce, from doopen, to dip. (The Dutch ‘oo’, of course, is pronounced as our long ‘o’.)

So the bottom line, I guess, is that “the straight dope” is a narcotic used by those who don’t violate the law. Or, otherwise, an idiot who happens to be attracted to members of the opposite sex. :wink:

BTW, ‘dopamine’ comes from ‘dopa’ + ‘amine’, where ‘dopa’ = E. dihydroxyphenylalanine. . .it says here in my always-has-an-answer (of one sort or another) dictionary.

Ray (If it won’t stretch to sate the market, lace it.)

So theres no ref. on the original use of the phrase as a whole? It is a pretty common phrase as far as I know. And I accept the doop explanation of why dope means drugs, but I have know idea how that comes to mean knowledge. The metaphor you alluded to is ricockulous if you ask me.

Yeah, that doop bit does sound far-fetched, but it’s mentioned in both the Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins and Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, so there must be something to it.

Just a WAG on my part, but I’ve always assumed that “straight dope” came out of hipster talk and should be equated to today’s “real deal.”

your humble TubaDiva/SDStaffDiv
for the Straight Dope
Cecil’s the cat what’s in the know!

I tried to post last night, too. Oh, well, it’s a little redundant by now, but here it is (lightly edited):

The OED has the word ‘dope’ for drugs dated to 1889, and not until 1901 did ‘dope’ become “information about a racehorse’s condition; hence fraudulent information and information generally”.

“Fraudulent”??? Must be wrong!

But ‘straight’ does mean ‘not crooked’, and that’s rare enough among racetrack touts to excite comment.

So it looks like that might be where it came from.

Bob the Random Expert
“If we don’t have the answer, we’ll make one up.”

No sweat, we just have to change the name to The Straight Dorph :slight_smile:

So why should Cecil apply a seedy race horse idiom to his pearls of wisdom?

Because Cecil Adams is the mudder of all reference librarians.


dope [1] (noun)


[Dutch doop sauce, from dopen to dip; akin to Old English dyppan to dip]

First appeared 1807

1a : a thick liquid or pasty preparation

1b : a preparation for giving a desired quality to a substance or surface

2a : absorbent or adsorbent material used in various manufacturing processes (as the making of dynamite)

3a (1) : an illicit, habit-forming, or narcotic drug

3a (2) : a preparation given to a racehorse to help or hinder its performance

3b chiefly Southern : a cola drink

3c : a stupid person

4a : information esp. from a reliable source <the inside ~>

Terence in Marietta, GA

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