Subject means: among Jews of a certain age or upbringing in NY (cite: Jews I’ve met here), “wear it in good health” is a common, pleasant, non-sarcastic thing to say when someone shows you new clothes or shoes that he is happy that he has just bought.
Is anyone non-Jewish, non-NY aware of it? I say perhaps NYC only because some Yiddishisms become general currency. (See future thread: “‘Enjoy’ as intransitive?”)
I’m guessing it first appears in Yiddish, if my theory is correct. (Reason for post uncomprehending black Gap salesman who heard me jokingly self-wish it.)
Eta: asked mods to fix typo in hed.
I’m just a data point, but I’ve been aware of it for at least 25 years and I’m neither Jewish nor from (nor have ever lived) in NYC or even NYS/NJ. I couldn’t tell you how I’m familiar with it because I don’t know…probably TV or from reading it somewhere.
I had a Misty Harbor *trenchcoat that had that on the label. That would have been mid 1980s. It was later stolen out of my car. No big loss, and really a waste of money. It’s not something you get to wear a lot where I live.
Gentile, 60 years old, in Indiana, and I’ve heard it all my life.
Could it be related to the Yiddishism “gay gezunt un kum gezunt”? (=“safe travels!”; or, literally, “go in health and return in health!”)
“Where it in good health” changed to “Wear it in good health”.
Interesting. Thanks to all.
Note to self: talk about clothes with Gentiles more.
Still, guy at Gap never heard of it, thought it sounded bizarre. Will continue querying Gentiles.
I’ve know the phrase as long as I can remember, about 60 years. No relation to the one above which is about going somewhere. My mother had a Sam Levinson 78 from about 1950 with
Kid: I’m running away from home!
Jewish Mother: gay gezunt un kum gezunt. I’ll pack you sandwiches.
I was 11 and was getting gear for my first Boy Scout outing. I showed my brother my new first aid kit and he told me “Use it in good health.” Then we both realized what he said and we laughed.
I recall reading an article about fact-checking dialogue for historical movies, and this precise example came up. Someone was wondering if it was a phrase that a typical 19th century New Yorker would have used.
The verdict was that it was derived from a Yiddish phrase (probably Flywheel’s, or something similar), and that it wouldn’t be current among non-Jewish New Yorkers back then.
It sounds probable. For the life of me, though, I can’t recall where or when I read that piece.
As a data point, I think I’ve heard it my entire life, and don’t regard it as anything but normal slang.
A quick look at Google N Gram Viewer shows the phrase appearing just before the end of the 19th century, but the earliest uses seem to be from Jewish backgrounds or from New York.
Extremely Jewish-Yiddish thing to say (usually in reply for thanking someone for a gift in my family, but not always) and, like all yiddishisms save a couple, almost completely unknown once you’re 50 miles out of the city.
Went to uni in New York. Worked there for a number of years too. I’ve heard both “wear it…” and “use it…” for as far back as I can remember, usually by older folks and, come to think of it, many of whom were Jewish. It is a common phrase.
I’m from a Jewish family from the New York area, but grew up in South Florida. I know the phrase well.
Pretty common in my Toronto Jewish family.
Native Californian here. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone say it in real life, but I’d consider it “well known”…presumably from movies and/or TV, though I can’t recall where I’ve actually heard it there either.
Non-Jewish, lifelong New Yorker.
I’ve heard this all my life. It’s utterly commonplace to me.
I grew up in Chicago, and I’ve heard it all my life. I think it’s just a common saying. I’m not Jewish and didn’t know anyone who was Jewish while I was growing up.
My Dad says it, or a variant thereof, like “I wish you good health to enjoy it”. And I am fairly sure we are not Jewish and I have never been to NYC.
Mystery travelling phrase.
In Ireland, when someone buys a new garment, you wish them “Health to wear”. Maybe that’s a bit old-fashioned now but it was common when I was growing up.