I've been cleaning the bathroom so have some toilet humor 

Phew, really did a number on that toilet. No, the number is not 1 or 2

re: toilet humor 

Now I'm wondering about the etymology of "did a number on"

re: toilet humor 

Wiktionary, hella as always, does have an entry for "do a number on", but sadly it lacks an etymology section

further investigation reveals that there *was* one until 8 months ago when someone removed it for lack of sources (tbh it did read like it was made up, it was not detailed or specific)

Follow

etymology of "do a number on" 

Here is a web 1.5-ass blog on the subject, obviously the best kind of citation material. word-detective.com/2010/07/num

It comes to the conclusion that it first appeared as African-American slang in the 1960s, though some of the comments (which were posted about a decade after the original post) also brought up the boxing sense of "number" as a possible contributor (which is what the Wiktionary article formerly stated, however unconvincingly).

There seem to be some other nuggets in the general search results, but others are just the definition with no history... And then there's the Quora page, which features a response quoting the uncited Wiktionary serction (while "citing" Wiktionary), and another copy-pasting an excerpt of the above blog post (with no citation or further comment). Classic.

SubwayTooter 0 0 2
Sign in to participate in the conversation
Cybrespace

the mastodon instance at cybre.space is retiring

see the end-of-life plan for details: https://cybre.space/~chr/cybre-space-eol