Sunday, December 7, 2014

put it in your pipe and Smoke It

I remember hearing this expression off and on since childhood, though not so much lately. I found this 1950 ad for Briggs Pipe Mixture and it set me off to the internet seeking answers as to the origin of this most pithy comeback. I looked at the Cambride dictionary, the urban dictionary, pipe-smoker forums, and lots of other sites, who mostly just got it wrong.

The best explanation I found was at WordWizard, a site new to me. It listed three early uses of the phrase, to wit:

1824: "PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT" - in the play "Americans Abroad, Or, Notes and Notions: A Farcical Comedy, in Two Acts" by Richard Brinsley Peake.

1840: “For this you've my word, and I never yet broke it, So PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE, my lord Otto, AND SMOKE IT! from the poem "The Lady of St. Odile", part of the Ingoldsby Legends by R. H. Barham.

1947 “That's what you think. I'm engaged to her, so PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT.” from one of the short stories in the collection "Creatures of Circumstance" by W. Somerset Maugham, published about July 1947.

I verified that the above works did indeed contain the quotes cited by Word Wizard. I want to note they are all British sources, and this expression I heard was always used by American peoples. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest the origin for the American use of this phrase is probably good old Life magazine.

1950: "If your pipe talks back ... PUT THIS IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT!.." - Briggs Pipe Mixture ad in Life Magazine - Jan 23, 1950

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