‘How did the terms nuts and bananas come to refer to something or someone as crazy?’ | The Straight Dope | Chicago Reader

‘How did the terms nuts and bananas come to refer to something or someone as crazy?’ 

Cecil goes crazy in this week’s Straight Dope.

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

These bananas are off their rockers.
  • These bananas are off their rockers.

Q: Oh master, how did the terms nuts and bananas come to refer to something or someone crazy? —Shane Adams

Cecil responds:

How did any word ever come by a new meaning? It’s not like Noah Webster just announced it in the newsletter one week. No, someone tried using an existing word in some novel way, and it stuck. That’s how language evolves, much as it may bug those weirdos who insist that decimate can only mean “kill a tenth of.” In the long centuries of the pre-text-message era, of course, new slang typically made its debut in speech rather than writing, so some developments surely took some time to turn up in the historical record. But from what we can tell, people have been using nuts to mean “crazy” since the mid-19th century; bananas seems to have shown up maybe 100 years later.

Read the rest at straightdope.com

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Cecil Adams

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Manic Mondays Frances Cocktail Lounge
November 20
Music
Gerry Hemingway Experimental Sound Studio
October 22

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories