|Polly want a cracker
||[Mar. 10th, 2009|12:47 pm]
Historical Origins of English Words and Phrases
Polly want a cracker
-This is a cliché phrase taught to parrots and other birds with speech-mimicking abilities. It comes from Polly, the diminutive form of Poll, which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as 'a female name or the name of a parrot.' Poll is itself an alteration of Moll, the slangy and familiar version of the female name Mary, which was traditionally a name for parrots and other exotic birds. The first known record of Polly referring to a parrot comes from Ben Jonson's Epigrams (1616 C.E.) There does not seem to be much information on why cracker was picked as opposed to another food, but the phrase as a whole is thought to be a 20th century invention, possibly being popularized by a cartoon parrot from the 1930's. Across the Atlantic, this phrase uses the grammatically correct verb form of wants, as opposed to the American version listed above which is meant to imitate "baby-talk" in an attempt to be cuter.