?

Log in

No account? Create an account
that's all she wrote - Historical Origins of English Words and Phrases [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Historical Origins of English Words and Phrases

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Links
[Links:| Word Archive ]

that's all she wrote [Aug. 18th, 2008|10:21 pm]
Historical Origins of English Words and Phrases

word_ancestry

[gwoman]
[Tags|]
[Current Mood |goodfine]

that's all she wrote
-Meaning 'the end, it's finished,' that's all she wrote is a very young phrase. Though its creation likely dates to the pre-World War II era, it was first recorded in 1948 as college slang. There is a theory that it comes from so-called Dear John letters that overseas soldiers would receive from their significant others (usually female at this time), breaking off their relationships seemingly out of the blue. Support for this theory comes from the description of a somewhat similar event in James Jones' 1952 novel From Here to Eternity: "All she'd have to do, if got caught with you, would be to holler rape and it would be Dear John, that's all she wrote." Though it shows the relation to both far-off soldier boyfriends and Dear John letters is clear, by this point in time we can that that's all she wrote had already been generalized to mean simply 'it's over.'
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: colubra
2008-08-19 05:37 am (UTC)
James Jones' 1952 novel From Here to Eternity, by the by: James Joyce had been deceased for 11 years at the time it was published.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: gwoman
2008-08-19 05:39 am (UTC)
...wow, that's a huge slip. i saw James J... and was like "oh, Joyce!"

thank you very, very much.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: colubra
2008-08-19 05:41 am (UTC)
Oh believe me, I was going '...wait, that was JOYCE?!?!? Wasn't he dead? I gotta check'.

And part of my brain is trying to Finnegan's Wake-ize From Here to Eternity, now.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nigrescere
2008-08-19 09:31 am (UTC)
Wow, very interesting.
Didn't actually know that was a phrase, but then I do tend to live in strange places, so it is always interesting to see how others are talking :)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: calizen
2008-08-19 03:13 pm (UTC)
I wonder if it's a phrase heard in one part of the country more than another. Never hear it in California but did hear it in Michigan.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: gwoman
2008-08-19 04:31 pm (UTC)
i'm from Cali and i've heard it used often by my family. but then again, they tend to use phrases not heard around here, like lots of Yiddish. and we're not Jewish so i don't really know where it comes from....
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: calizen
2008-08-19 10:16 pm (UTC)
Go figger
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nigrescere
2008-08-20 08:23 am (UTC)
Afraid I have never lived in the states so I wouldn't know...but it does seem to be a common phenomenon that people use different phrases or words in different parts of large countries. Certainly that is the way it is in Australia.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: surrealzenith
2008-08-19 01:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you. My mother says this all the time and alway has and it's never really made any sense. I always wondered where it came from.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: gwoman
2008-08-19 04:32 pm (UTC)
my pleasure! it made sense to me when i'd hear it but i always wondered why the person was specifically a female so i'm glad you requested this.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: fantasia0829
2008-08-20 09:01 am (UTC)
Wow, I didn't know this is a phrase either. But hey, you learn new things everyday. :D

Anyway, I was just wondering... where did the term 'Dear John leter' come from? The song?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: gwoman
2008-08-20 07:16 pm (UTC)
your icon is *awesome*

as for the letter, "John" was picked for the name b/c of its such a common American male name, especially during that time period. think along the lines of "John Doe" for an unidentified male body.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: fantasia0829
2008-08-21 07:17 am (UTC)
Thanx. XD

Ah, I see. I hadn't thought of it that way. XDD
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: alovecycle
2008-08-20 05:43 pm (UTC)

suggestion!

the phrase 'robbed me blind'
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: gwoman
2008-08-21 02:46 am (UTC)

Re: suggestion!

added!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)