Issue 208, page 2
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There's just no evidence for that derivation. We think someone is messing with the Wiktionary! What we do know is that the phrase can be found in print as early as 1988. All earlier examples that we found are from bean recipes where the cook is instructed to "cool [the] beans", and while today's expression may have been influenced by recipes, we somehow doubt it. The 1988 citation, from the Wellsboro [Pennsylvania] Gazette is:
The phrase as we know it today was clearly already known in 1988, and this little snippet in the Gazette was making a pun. (We also discovered that the U.S. Mail conducted several air parcel post demonstations in the years prior to World War I, though we could not confirm a cargo of baked beans in any of those demonstration flights.)
Several web sources claim that the phrase originated in a commercial for Bush's Best Baked Beans (in the U.S.) where the Bush family dog, who can speak, by the way, says "cool beans". However, the Bush's Best Baked Beans web site states (and they should know!) that the commercials using the talking dog did not start until 1993. So there goes that theory out the window. Clearly the Bush commercials were capitalizing on an existing phrase.
Another web site suggested that cool beans is simply an alteration of cool, but this prompts us to ask, "Why beans?" Why not cool peas or cool steaks? The origin of this phrase is currently at the bottom of a pot of hot beans. We hope that someone will eat enough of the beans to get to the bottom of the pot, and the bottom of this mystery. Just make sure you have some Bean-o handy.
The trick here is that the English word did not come directly from Latin missa. Instead, there was a Vulgar Latin form messa, which Old English took as mæsse, though in Kentish and Mercian English it was messe. French messe, and Provençal and Italian messa come from the same Vulgar Latin source. Spanish misa and Portuguese missa are, on the other hand, from the written Latin form - missa. The other Germanic forms come from both the Vulgar Latin and written Latin forms. Old Frisian and Old Saxon had missa (and modern Dutch is mis), while Middle High German had misse and messe (modern German being messe), and Old Norse had messa (Swedish is messa, and Danish is messe).
Most scholars do agree that the source of the Latin missa/messa is the verb mittere "to send, to send away, dismiss". The past participle is missus. Missa is thought to be a verbal noun which refers to the act of dismissing. The earliest instances of the word in the written record come from the 4th century. Some over the centuries have thought that the word was used to refer to the dismissal of catechumens before the eucharistic portion of the service began, so that the original sense of the word was "the Eucharist". However, more recently, scholars have come to believe that the original sense of the word was "religious service" and that the meaning was narrowed over time to mean "the Eucharist". Such services were closed with the phrase, "Ite, missa est." That is thought by many to be the origin of the word's use in this sense.
The earliest appearance of the word in English dates from 831!
We love Rick Steves, but he should stick to travel and stay away from spurious etymologies. We had not heard this ridiculous story before. It is absurd on its face because the word scoop used in the journalistic sense originated in the U.S.!
The sense here is of one newspaper "scooping up" the story and running with it to publish it before anyone else. The earliest example in the OED is from 1874:
Clearly the worry expressed in this quotation was over another paper getting the story before the Sentinel did. However, we here at TOWFI, using our amazing research skills, have found an earlier example, which makes the meaning clearer:
This quotation uses the verbal form of scoop in this sense, for which the OED's earliest example is 1884! We love it when we get to antedate the OED! Woohoo!
[Click on the link in Kevin's question to read our original discussion of scoop.]
Out of pocket originally referred to being out of funds. The OED's earliest example of this is from 1693. That meaning is considered obsolete. It also meant "to be a loser in a transaction" in the 18th century. By 1885 it was being used to refer to expenses that were not covered or that would not be reimbursed by another source. This was the dominant meaning until the 20th century, when, as you mention, the meaning "away" or "unavailable" arose. Interestingly, the OED's earliest citation for this usage, which they say is American, is from 1974. Once again, the amazing TOWFI research team has found a citation almost 30 years earlier, from 1946 (another WOOHOO!). We reproduce it for you in its entirety below:
Our best guess is that the existing out of pocket was adopted to mean "away", "missing", or "not in contact", probably with the influence of the phrase in [someone's] pocket, which had been around since the early 19th century, with the meaning "quite close to, in close attendance upon [someone]". We also suspect that, if the phrase with the "missing" meaning appeared in a newspaper of 1947, it had been in use for some time prior to that.
The OED. does not connect this to gee and haw. Instead, it equates it with yahoo, another "exclamation of enthusiasm or exuberance." Its earliest example of yeehaw, which it identifies as "chiefly U.S.", is from 1924:
However, we have found an example of the word from 1844! We reprint the entire source story for you here as it is quite amusing.
We also found yee haw in a very interesting advertisement from the Washington Post of July 6, 1906:
This instance of yee haw refers to Maud, "the mule that can't be ridden" (sure to be a barrel of laughs!). Another instance of yee haw that we found, from 1902, refers to a donkey. So it appears that the development of yeehaw as an interjection was influenced by the braying of a donkey or mule, and then it was perhaps further influenced by interjections like yoho and yahoo, even yoohoo.
All right, it is time to remove our Supreme Antedating Crowns and return to the real world for a nice, freshly cooked dinner -- no, we don't try to antedate everything. Just words.
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