eighty-six: 86'd out of a bar

This formerly read-only archive of threads dates back to 1996, but as of March 2007 is open to new postings. For technical reasons, the early dates shown do not accurately reflect the actual date of posting.

Feel free to add new postings to any of the existing threads in the archived forums, but please create any new language-related threads in one of the Language Discussion Forums.

eighty-six: 86'd out of a bar

Post by Archived Topic » Mon Aug 30, 2004 3:51 am

Does anyone know where the phrase "being 86'd from a bar" originated from ?
Submitted by ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Topic imported and archived

eighty-six: 86'd out of a bar

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Aug 30, 2004 4:05 am

I do. But since you didn't tell your name or where you're from, I'm not going to tell.

Lois Martin, Birmingham, Alabama, April 17, 2003
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

eighty-six: 86'd out of a bar

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Aug 30, 2004 4:20 am

OK, I'm Joe from Minneapolis
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

eighty-six: 86'd out of a bar

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Aug 30, 2004 4:34 am

'86ed' is the term that resturants and bars use when they're out of something "We've 86ed the Roma tomatoes"...so it makes sense to '86' the customer too.

Chris from Canada
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

eighty-six: 86'd out of a bar

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Aug 30, 2004 4:49 am

But that does not explain why the number 86 and not 85, 91, 13 etc...

Joe from Mpls
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

eighty-six: 86'd out of a bar

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Aug 30, 2004 5:03 am

Here's some theories-http://phrases.shu.ac.uk/bulletin_board ... 19.htmland an article on the second page of the paper thinks-http://www.konajacksindy.com/newsletter/Spring_2002.pdf
To add another dubious explanation, I had heard that during prohibition, in speakeasys, if someone was getting too drunk too fast he was 86ed (down to 86 proof from 100 proof) Dave Evans - Portland, ME

All interesting theories...but I'm not sure which is right.

Chris from Canada


Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

eighty-six: 86'd out of a bar

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Aug 30, 2004 5:17 am

If you had checked the "Ask the Wordwizard" section you would have come up with at least four references to older discussions onthis topic.

Leif, WA, USA
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

eighty-six: 86'd out of a bar

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Aug 30, 2004 5:32 am

Lois, Joe, Chris, and Leif. The discussion of ‘86’ in ‘Ask the Wordwizard’ is excellent (there’s actually only two references, since 3 are the same). As a former habitué of NYC soda fountains, lunch counters, bars, and restaurants in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, I was familiar with such code words both as an observer and as a soda jerk in Brooklyn and as a waiter in a Broadway restaurant in Manhattan. I guess at the time I had never gave much thought as to where the various terms came from. But this question got my curiosity up and motivated me to try to learn a bit more about the origins of this and other such lingo.

‘Eighty-six is’ just one of the many code words, code numbers and verbal shorthands that were used (and probably) invented by managers and employees of these establishments for communications purposed (stealthy or overt). Orders were often called out loud from waiter to cook, bartender, or soda jerk. As far as the number codes go, a very few have any significance attached to their origins and explanations [e.g. 86, 5, 2 ½ (see below) and 69 which is eating but not food/restaurant/bar-related (<:)] and most look to be just arbitrary selections.
__________________________________________________________________________________

Note: below [[ ]] signifies interjected comments of mine
___________________________________________________________________________________

Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins

86, AND BARTENDERS NUMBER CODE: Practicing barkeeps of the nation aren’t going to like this explanation, but indications are that “86” may well have come from a number of codes created by comparatively effete [[not me, I was as macho as one could be serving drinks and ice cream in a soda jerk hat!]] soda fountain clerks of the nation. Originally, according to the American Thesaurus of Slang, it was a password used between clerks to indicate: “ We’re all out of the item ordered.” The transition from this meaning—to the bartender’s sense of “Serve no more because of the shape he’s in’ is fairly obvious.

The number codes developed by soda jerks was very extensive, incidentally. The head fountain manager was ’99,’ the assistant manager was ‘98’—which also meant ‘pest.’ A hissed ‘98’ from one soda-popper to another indicated, “The assistant manager is prowling around. Watch out.” And for some reason, ‘33’ meant a cherry-flavored Coca-Cola, ‘55’ meant root beer, and ’19 was a banana split. And most cheerful warning of all, ‘87 ½,’ meaning. “There’s a good-looking girl out front.!”
____________________________________________________________________________________

Flexner’s Listening to America

‘5’ [[possibly a 5 inch tall glass]]: Was a large glass of milk. ‘2 ½’ was a small glass of milk; ‘41’ was a lemonade; ‘51’ was a cup of hot chocolate; ‘52’ was two cups, ‘53’ was . . .; ‘55’ was a glass of root beer; ‘80 or ‘81’ was one glass of water; ‘82’ was two glasses, ‘83’ was . . .

‘86’: Rhymes with and means ‘nix’ usually called out from cook to waiter or waitress, meaning “we’re all out of it, we don’t’ have any.” Also used to mean “no sale” and as a code meaning a person is not to be served, because he is broke, drunk, etc.

95: A customer is leaving without paying, stop him.

99: Call or see the manager or owner, report to the boss. Some employees call 99, ’13,’ or ‘white bread’ meaning ‘be on your toes, the boss is here.” since 99 meant the boss or manager or person in charge, one step below him was ‘98’ the assistant manager or person who was in charge when the boss was out.
___________________________________________________________________________________

Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang

EIGHTY-SIX /86 adjective (U.S.): Unwelcome, especially as at a bar.

EIGHTY-SIX verb 1. [1960s and still in use] (U.S.): To throw out, to get rid of. [rhyming slang eight-six = nix, originally restaurant and bar use, indicating that the supply of an item is exhausted or that a customer is not to be served] [[He got himself 86ed from the bar]]

EIGHTY-SIX! exclamation [1960s and still in use] get out! go away!
____________________________________________________________________________________

Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang

EIGTHY-SIX 1) interjection and adjective (among waiters and bartenders): Out of stock; out (of an item ordered by a customer) <1926-35 ‘Burlesque’ by Watters and Hopkins: “Waiter...If you need any scotch or gin, sir–...My number is Eighty-Six....Skid....Yeah. Eighty-Six I know.” (Waiter exits R. Skid draws and enormous flask from pocket.)>. 2a) noun: An unwelcome customer who is to be denied service <1943 ‘Sweet Prince’ by Fowler [reference to the 1920s]: . . . “An ‘eighty-six’ in the patois of western dispensers means, ‘Don’t serve him!’”>. 2b) noun: ‘Sales.’ A remaindered item. <1987 ‘Campus Slang’ (Oct.): 86—a piece of clothing that nobody wants: “There’s a lot of 86’s over in the corner.”>. 3) adjective: unwelcome at a bar. <1963 ‘Shake Him’ by Braley: “And even if Carver did street him Bear would be eighty-six all over town.”>

EIGTHY-SIX verb [from the interjection] 1a) to end; stop; quash; discard or get rid of.<1955 ‘Bride of Monster’ (film): “The police want those monster stories eighty-sixed.”>. 1b) To eliminate by killing <1978 L.A. Times (March 15): “At least it suggests that the police haven’t 86ed (murdered) him.”)>. 2a) to eject; put out; dismiss; send packing <1958 Saturday Evening Post (July 26): “Mr. Hannish became a little boisterous and uncertain on his feet, but Tom didn’t very well see how he could the president of a large bank, particularly at a wedding reception.”>. 2b) To get out—used imperatively <1967 “On Ice” by Gelber: “It’s 86. Get out of here. 86! Just go.”>.
__________________

Ken G – April 17, 2003




Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

eighty-six: 86'd out of a bar

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Aug 30, 2004 5:46 am

86 Greenwald
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

eighty-six: 86'd out of a bar

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Aug 30, 2004 6:01 am

wasn't Maxwell Smart's female sidekick Agent 86?

(Shay - Illiois)
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

eighty-six: 86'd out of a bar

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Aug 30, 2004 6:15 am

Shay, It was Maxwell Smart himself who was Agent 86.

Ken – April 18, 2003

Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

eighty-six: 86'd out of a bar

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Aug 30, 2004 6:29 am

Agent 99 was the female sidekick.

Leif, WA, USA
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

eighty-six: 86'd out of a bar

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Aug 30, 2004 6:44 am

Obviously I don't spend enough time watching old tv shows....

(shay - illinois)
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

eighty-six: 86'd out of a bar

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Aug 30, 2004 6:58 am

Obviously! Shay, you are plainly wasting your time with some other activity - isn't it time you got your priorities sorted out?
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

eighty-six: 86'd out of a bar

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Aug 30, 2004 7:13 am

Shay! They were brand new shows when I watched them! You dissing us more "mature" folks? *G*

Leif, as above
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Post Reply