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March 31, 2005

Bun fight

Is P.G. Wodehouse responsible for the expression "bun fight"?

P G Wodehouse has been responsible for several things, most notably the best comic writing in English, but we’re fairly sure he didn’t invent this one. Who did is lost in the anonymity of slang history, but it seems to have first appeared in the late nineteenth century, a bit early for Wodehouse.

If it sounds to you like a Victorian children’s nursery at teatime, that surely must be the original allusion behind it. Imagine children having tea, inevitably squabbling over the buns, teacakes, muffins and—this being a British expression—crumpets. Two similar expressions are known from the middle of the nineteenth century: crumpet-scramble and muffin-worry; these haven’t survived.

I shall now endeavour to work crumpet-scramble or muffin-worry in at least one conversation every day.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at March 31, 2005 06:01 AM

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