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"UNCLE!"


Sepiatone
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We've all seen it in A CHRISTMAS STORY.

 

Scutt Farkas puts another kid in an armlock and demands, "Say UNCLE!"  And won't let go until the kid SAYS it!

 

Even when I was a kid, and fights(serious or not) reached a point to where one of the kids was pinned down, or put in a hold he couldn't get out of, the command would come---

 

"Say UNCLE!"

 

I always wondered......WHY "Uncle"?  Why not "Say AUNTIE", or "Cousin", or some OTHER relative?

 

Why "UNCLE"?  WHERE does that COME from?

 

 

Sepiatone

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We've all seen it in A CHRISTMAS STORY.

 

Scutt Farkas puts another kid in an armlock and demands, "Say UNCLE!"  And won't let go until the kid SAYS it!

 

Even when I was a kid, and fights(serious or not) reached a point to where one of the kids was pinned down, or put in a hold he couldn't get out of, the command would come---

 

"Say UNCLE!"

 

I always wondered......WHY "Uncle"?  Why not "Say AUNTIE", or "Cousin", or some OTHER relative?

 

Why "UNCLE"?  WHERE does that COME from?

 

 

Sepiatone

 

The oldest reference is from the Roman Empire.   Children, when confronted by a bully, would be forced to say the phrase, Patrue, mi Patruissimo or in English , Uncle, my best Uncle in order to submit.

 

Bullying then may be different than today, kids were expected to fight and be tough, the last one to cry Uncle were the weakest.  (at least they weren't Spartan - oh my)

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Well, Ham, that certainly doesn't do much to explain WHY it's an UNCLE and NOT some OTHER relative!

 

Or, HOW a bunch of kids in the mid to late 20th century, in the NEW WORLD came to use the term.

 

And I'm pretty sure that a referrence to.."my best Uncle" wouldn't do much to disuade any bully in ANY point in history!

 

But, thanks anyway  :)

 

 

Sepiatone

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Well, Ham, that certainly doesn't do much to explain WHY it's an UNCLE and NOT some OTHER relative!

 

Or, HOW a bunch of kids in the mid to late 20th century, in the NEW WORLD came to use the term.

 

And I'm pretty sure that a referrence to.."my best Uncle" wouldn't do much to disuade any bully in ANY point in history!

 

But, thanks anyway  :)

 

 

Sepiatone

 

Just simple as accepting foreign traditions - customs.  Rome mostly conquered Britannia (Roman Britain), they picked up the phrase then handed it down to us.

 

One of the oldest idiom examples that we still use is "Read the fine print" and "Having a clean slate" can be traced back to Babylon around 1800 BC (aka the Code of Hammurabi) in dealing with debt.

 

Alternative words i.e. Aunt don't factor in, it's just the way it is.  :)

 

Bulllying in the past was more common than we think, it was part of growing up, who will be the top dog (another idiom).  In the old days, if a boy came home crying because he was picked on, his father would give him something to cry about in order to teach him to stand your ground - be a man!

 

In "The Christmas Story" Ralphie learned that on his own, stopped crying and beat the crap out of Scutt Farkas.  Will he be bullied again?...I don't think so.

Edited by hamradio
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Well, Ham, that certainly doesn't do much to explain WHY it's an UNCLE and NOT some OTHER relative!

 

Or, HOW a bunch of kids in the mid to late 20th century, in the NEW WORLD came to use the term.

 

And I'm pretty sure that a referrence to.."my best Uncle" wouldn't do much to disuade any bully in ANY point in history!

 

But, thanks anyway  :)

 

 

Sepiatone

 

I can think of a reason why, when one is submitting to another person, the term would be uncle;  because it was the uncle that would ask younger members of the family to perform certain acts.

 

I hope I don't have to spell out what those acts are!    The movie Tommy uses a reference to this type of uncle.   Is there a connection there to saying uncle?    

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First off, Ham...it's "bullying WAS more common..."  NOT "were"!

 

And, it's SCUTT Farkas, NOT "Scott"!

 

I'll try other avenues however.

 

The ANCIENT ROMAN explanation doesn't clearly explain WHY a referrence to an UNCLE is equated with an aquiesce of surrender.

 

My first GUESS would be that the English word "uncle" used in this manner is a possible corruption of a foreign word that sounds sort of like that.  Equitable to the Italian  CAGA  winding up, in English, to be the crass slang "CA-CA" ( for s-h-i-t )

 

I mean, if Americans can turn the Polish "golabki" into "GWUMPKEY", why NOT?

 

 

Sepiatone

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Actually, I've found a couple of explanations that sound possible---

 

One dates back to the turn of the 20th century, as a folk etymology with the Irish original of the word being "Anacol" :  The act of protecting; deliverance; mercy or quarter; "safety".

 

Another, going to the 1890's is based on a sort of joke:

 

A man with a parrot, boasted that it was a "fine speaker" and that he taught it to say the word "uncle".  Prompting the bird to say "uncle", the bird refused to cooperate.  With increasing anger, the man started shaking and otherwise "abusing" the bird while demanding it to. "say UNCLE!" 

 

Ahhhh......I'm not so sure about THAT one...... :huh:

 

 

Sepiatone

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A man with a parrot, boasted that it was a "fine speaker" and that he taught it to say the word "uncle".  Prompting the bird to say "uncle", the bird refused to cooperate.  With increasing anger, the man started shaking and otherwise "abusing" the bird while demanding it to. "say UNCLE!" 

 

 

Saaaay...didn't the Monty Python lads do a take on that old joke once???

 

(...yeah...except I think the parrot was dead) 

 

;)

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