Talk:greatest thing since sliced bread
- Note: the below discussion was moved from the Wiktionary:Tea room.
Claims it is "sometimes used sarcastically". Any more so than other phrases in English? --Jackofclubs 15:08, 5 October 2008 (UTC)
- Probably not, but hard to document one way or the other. I think such comments about the "tone" of an expression almost always belong in Usage notes, if anywhere. The assumption that the "tone" in which an expression is used in one's own cultural reference group is worth recording seems common. DCDuring TALK 12:13, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
- Thanks. I've commented out the "sarcastically" bit. --Jackofclubs 17:27, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
Earliest known use?
This entry could use some citations to establish exactly when the idiom started entering popular usage. Google Books Search shows a lot of uses of the phrase in the early 1960s, in transcripts of spoken language (Congressional hearings, union-meeting minutes, etc.) — although you also have to be careful because Google doesn't always know what year something was published. A lot of the time it'll claim that Issue #997 of the Congressional Record was from 1814 just because that's when Issue #1 was from.
You dine with the President on Monday, and he slaps you on the back and tells you you are the salt of the earth, and on Tuesday morning you get a letter from him saying you are fired.
By the time the American version of the book (Author! Author!) was published in 1962, the same sentence had metamorphosed to 2
You dine with the president on Monday and he tells you you're the greatest thing since sliced bread, and on Tuesday morning you get a letter from him saying you're fired.
- I found a couple from 1947 in Congressional testimony and proceeding of trade association meetings. I searched for "since sliced bread", but the 1947 uses were for the full expression. There might have been earlier use that was not metonymy, for example, "the greatest thing since the invention of the (automatic) bread slicer". "smartest guy since the one who came up with sliced bread." DCDuring TALK 22:46, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
- I suspect that the short-lived US-government-imposed ban on sales of sliced bread (because it would lead to more use of waxed paper !) in early 1943 contributed to the phrase. Testimony suggests that only about a quarter of the sales of bread around that time were of sliced bread, but that it was growing fast. DCDuring TALK 22:56, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
- See Sliced bread on Wikipedia.Wikipedia for something better and earlier than my suspicions. DCDuring TALK 23:00, 14 May 2013 (UTC)