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#150 - 03/15/00 06:13 PM Eighty-sixed? Help, please.  
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Pete Caruso Offline
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Pete Caruso  Offline
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I have for many years been trying to learn the origin of the phrase 86'd (eighty-sixed), used as a verb to describe being banned, usually from an establishment such as a place where food or drink is served. Help would be appreciated. Thanks.


#151 - 03/15/00 06:36 PM Re: Eighty-sixed? Help, please.  
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AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel
AnnaStrophic  Offline
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lower upstate New York
I was told by a NYC tour guide that Number 84 Bleecker Street (??? some street in the Village; I've forgotten now) was a rather (in)famous speakeasy during Prohibition. Whenever cops pounded on the front door, the owner would yell "Eighty-six it!", meaning for patrons to run out the back door down a secret corridor to adjoining number 86, which had both hiding places as well as a hidden back exit leading onto a small side alley. This could be apocryphal, of course. You know how tour guides are.


#152 - 03/15/00 07:23 PM Re: Eighty-sixed? Help, please.  
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Jeanne Offline
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Jeanne  Offline
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MA
Actually, I think this comes from Radio. My father was a HAM radio operator. They had codes to represent concepts to abbreviate. This was especially valuable for Morse Code. 86 was the code for "Good-bye" and 10-4 was all right.


#153 - 03/15/00 10:52 PM Re: Eighty-sixed? Help, please.  
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jackiemw Offline
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Dictionary of Contemporary Usage says 86 is a term in bartender's slang. To 86 a person is to indicate--usually to a bouncer--that a person will not be served anything more and may have to be evicted from the premises . . .


#154 - 03/16/00 03:25 AM Re: Eighty-sixed? Help, please.  
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AnnaStrophic Offline
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AnnaStrophic  Offline
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lower upstate New York
Ham radio operators got 86 from a previous source. All the 10 codes existed previously, too. It'll be fun to see what other etymologies we get for this term.


#155 - 03/17/00 09:16 PM Re: Eighty-sixed? Help, please.  
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gfparsons Offline
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Northern Virginia
Some thirty-odd years ago, I was told the term originated in the bayside bars of San Francisco. The booze was usually high proof, and when the patrons got too rowdy, they were "86'ed" by giving them only the lower proof stuff. Probably apocryphal, but a good story anyway.


#156 - 03/18/00 12:21 AM Re: Eighty-sixed? Help, please.  
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AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel
AnnaStrophic  Offline
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lower upstate New York
San Francisco and New York. Two apocryphal cities ;-)


#157 - 03/23/00 09:51 PM Re: Eighty-sixed? Help, please.  
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MarkHJay Offline
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MarkHJay  Offline
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Short Hills NJ
I do not know the origin of the word, but I had thought the meaning somewhat different. "86",
as I understand it, is a verb that means "discard". "86 the veal parmesan" means "throw the
veal parmesan out"; it's no good.


#158 - 03/23/00 10:08 PM Re: Eighty-sixed? Help, please.  
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AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel
AnnaStrophic  Offline
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lower upstate New York
Yep, by extension, to "86" something nowadays generally means to throw it out. But I think the origins are as mentioned in previous posts. Pity "23-Skiddoo" hasn't had as long as life as its "86" brother, mutations in meaning notwithstanding.


#159 - 03/26/00 06:49 PM Re: Eighty-sixed? Help, please.  
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Pete Caruso Offline
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Pete Caruso  Offline
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USA
Thank you all for helping, though there seems to be no definitive answer, just several plausible ones. Perhaps more than one of the given provenances of the expression are each true in themselves and have leant strength to each other over time.

Does not much of what communicates act in an ad-hoc way, delivering its precise instantaneous meaning as much from present context as from dictionary definition?


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