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Friday, January 12, 2018

I'm fed up

It's hard to imagine life without  the phrase "fed up", isn't it?

So I was quite surprised to learn that is only a bit more than a hundred years old. 

According to the OED, it originated in military slang:
  fed up adj. colloq. (orig. Mil.) having had enough of a person or situation; annoyed, unhappy, or bored, esp. with a state of affairs that has persisted for a long time; also in intensifying phrases, as fed up to the back teeth
[1879   F. Arnold in London Society June 567/2   He himself essentially belongs to ‘the sty of Epicurus’... Fed up to the eyelids himself, it is no care to him that there are other people all otherwise than so well off.]
1900   B. Burleigh in Daily Tel. 20 Oct. 7/1   'Oh, I'm about fed up with it', is the current slang of the camps when officers and men speak of the war.
1914   Evening News 19 Sept. 4/1   We have also seen hundreds of German prisoners, mostly looking ‘fed up’.
1919   C. Dawson Test of Scarlet iii. iv. 208   The infantry are fed up to the back-teeth with the way in which the guns have failed to keep in touch with them.

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Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber is an expert on the English language and a frequent guest on radio and television. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Her witty and informative talks on the stories behind our words are very popular. Contact her at wordlady.barber@gmail.com to book her for speaking engagements; she can tailor her talks to almost any subject. She is also available as an expert witness for lawsuits.