Mexican stand-off

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Mexican stand-off

Post by DirtyMac » Mon Jul 03, 2006 10:53 pm

Where was this phrase originated?
Does a Mexican Stand-Off have to have Mexicans?
How does all this work?
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Mexican stand-off

Post by gdwdwrkr » Tue Jul 04, 2006 12:57 am

since a standoff is a tie or draw, as in a contest, then yes, a Mexican standoff has to have Mexicans.
Unlike a Chinese fire drill.......
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Mexican stand-off

Post by russcable » Tue Jul 04, 2006 3:58 am

No, there need not be any Mexicans present for
"a situation in which no one emerges a clear winner" (from http://www.m-w.com).
'Mexican stand-off "stalemate" is recorded from 1891.' (from http://www.etymonline.com)
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Mexican stand-off

Post by gdwdwrkr » Tue Jul 04, 2006 9:08 am

Please excuse me, Dirtymac and russcable. I was wrong. Russcable, you are correct.

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?l=m&p=12
standoff
1843, "draw, tie," from stand (v.) + off. Mexican stand-off "stalemate" is recorded from 1891. Adj. standoffish is first attested 1860, from verbal phrase stand off "hold aloof" (1601).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_standoff

A Mexican standoff is a slang term defined as a stalemate or impasse, a confrontation that neither side can win. In popular culture, the Mexican standoff is usually portrayed as two or more opposing men with guns drawn and ready, creating a very tense situation......
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Mexican stand-off

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Jul 04, 2006 9:54 am

One of them is almost certainly Dick Cheney.

The best protection against an unstable Cheney reaction is to wear Cheney mail.
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Mexican stand-off

Post by gdwdwrkr » Tue Jul 04, 2006 10:14 am

Fox a monkey-in-the-middle?
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Mexican stand-off

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Jul 04, 2006 5:28 pm

Dear Dirty, Love these types of familiar phrases that I have heard hundreds of times but which I never thought to question. I should have realized that these types of expressions with nationalities involved usually began their lives as racial slurs, but I just hadn’t thunk about it on this one.

Note: [[ ]] indicate my comments

MEXICAN STANDOFF actually has several meanings besides the one mentioned above:

Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang noun.

MEXICAN STANDOFF:

1) [late 19th century and still in use] (originally U.S.) A situation in which 2 parties are at a deadlock, with neither party willing to back down from a stated position and neither having a superior edge; the result is that both parties give in and walk off.

2) [20th century and still in use] (U.S.) A partial victory or defeat, but one that still fails to provide a decisive outcome.

3) [20th century and still in use] A round in poker when no one is willing to open the betting or no one wins the pot.

4) [20th century and still in use] A head-on collision between two trains.

5) [1920s-30s] (U.S.) Execution by firing squad.

[[6) No chance to benefit (or specifically to defend oneself; (formerly ) a massacre in cold blood (Oxford English Dictionary)]]

[[7) A pitching duel in baseball; a tie baseball game (Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, Chapman’s Dictionary of American Slang)]]
_____________

I include the following because it provides a good discussion of racial slur origins:

Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins

MEXICAN STANDOFF: So far as we know, a standoff is a standoff, whether it’s Mexican, Norwegian or Indonesian. In other words, a draw is a draw and nationality has nothing to do with the actual situation. However, national pride has a great deal to do with the creation of derogatory epithets aimed at neighboring countries, especially those between which commercial or other rivalry may exist. Perhaps the classic case of such coinage of racially derogatory epithets was the rash of expressions coined by the English to put down their Dutch rivals during the eighteenth century, when commercial competition between the two nations was at its peak. That gave us ‘Dutch courage’ (gained from the bottle), ‘Dutch treat’ (pay for yourself), ‘Dutch defense’ (surrender), and ‘do the Dutch’ (commit suicide).

Something of the same attitude may be found in parts of the United States bordering Mexico. The expression ‘Mexican athlete’ is used to describe an athlete who goes out for the team but doesn’t make it. A ‘Mexican promotion’ is one in which an employee gets a fancy new title—but no increase in pay. And a ‘Mexican breakfast’ consists of a cigarette and a glass of water. So a Mexican standoff is a situation from which nothing can be expected. [[Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang lists a total of 57 of these derogatory uses of Mexican and hundreds of others involving various nationalities – Chinese fire drill (chaos or student game involving getting out of and running around car at red light), Irish confetti (bricks), German comb (the hand), Italian perfume (garlic), Jewish flag (paper money), French cap (a condom), . . . .
_____________

Sources list the expression as first appearing in print in 1891. The interesting fact, though, is that first appearance in print actually had to do with a baseball contract signing standoff and not with American cowboys, which The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins suggests as its origin, but which still might well be (see quote below):
<1891 “‘Monk’ Cline, who got a MEXICAN STAND-OFF from Dave Rowe has signed with Louisville.”—‘N.Y. Sporting Times,’ 19 September, page 4/3>

<1904 “Boys, as fur as the coin goes, we're out an' injured; we jest made a ‘MEXICAN STANDOFF’—lost our money, but saved our lives.”—‘Dictionary of American Regional English’>

<1929 “MEXICAN STAND-OFF, to kill in cold blood.”—“It’s a Racket!” by Hostetter & Beesley, page 231>

<1934 “The men were the victims of the St. Valentine's Day massacre in Chicago, when seven men were given the MEXICAN STAND~OFF against the inside wall of a gang garage.”—‘Appointment in Smamarra’ (1935) by J. O’Hara, vii. page 222>

<1943 "Neither eleven [[American football team]] had been beaten, although the West Pointers have been tied. It almost looks like a MEXICAN STANDOFF—almost but not quite."—'New York Times,' 'Sports of the Times,' 6 November, page 18>

<1958 “I rightly and firmly believe we've taken some of the flap out of Mangas's shirttails and can turn this thing into a MEXICAN STAND-OFF, given any luck at all.”—‘Seven men at Mimbres Springs’ by W. Henry, xvi. page 189>

<1979 “As things stood it was a MEXICAN STANDOFF. He couldn't go to the law but . . . nor could the Koreans.”—‘Raven Settles Score’ by D. MacKenzie, page 26>

<1989 “Neither side made an attempt to threaten the other. It was, said one of the advisers, a ‘MEXICAN STANDOFF,’ during which they talked to the rebels periodically.”— ‘Time Magazine,’ 4 December>

<2000 “Firms, however, do not sue others for infringement of their patents because they know they are equally likely to be infringing on other firms’ patents in the future, a situation that Von Hippel [1988] cites a manager describing as a ‘MEXICAN STANDOFF.’”— ‘The Journal of Industrial Economics,’ Vol. 48, No. 1, March, page 127>
(Oxford English Dictionary, Historical Dictionary of American Slang)
__________________

Ken G – July 4, 2006
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Mexican stand-off

Post by mongrowl » Thu Jul 06, 2006 9:51 pm

1) [late 19th century and still in use] (originally U.S.) A situation in which 2 parties are at a deadlock, with neither party willing to back down from a stated position and neither having a superior edge; the result is that both parties give in and walk off.

A major problem I have with etymologists, is their tendencies to be too greatly empiricistic. In consequence, words with strong origins like this one tend to degrade after coinage. The definition above comes closest to the original meaning I understood it to be, when I was first introduced to it and yet not including a distinctive nuance that justified it's original inception. For me, it means that both party,s have different advantages that make the first initiator's loss greater or the assumption of this condition by both party,s. If one is outnumbered, while the other is out-gunned, then who attacks will loose the most. I suspect that the etymologists are all wimps and have never fired a gun before anyway so they don't have an interest in maintaining this distinction.
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Mexican stand-off

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Thu Jul 06, 2006 9:57 pm

It's hard to get past a Mexican-hat-stand too.
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Mexican stand-off

Post by gdwdwrkr » Fri Jul 07, 2006 1:11 am

parties lose
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Mexican stand-off

Post by hsargent » Fri Jul 07, 2006 1:31 pm

"Something of the same attitude may be found in parts of the United States bordering Mexico. The expression ‘Mexican athlete’ is used to describe an athlete who goes out for the team but doesn’t make it. A ‘Mexican promotion’ is one in which an employee gets a fancy new title—but no increase in pay. And a ‘Mexican breakfast’ consists of a cigarette and a glass of water. So a Mexican standoff is a situation from which nothing can be expected. [[Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang lists a total of 57 of these derogatory uses of Mexican and hundreds of others involving various nationalities – Chinese fire drill (chaos or student game involving getting out of and running around car at red light), Irish confetti (bricks), German comb (the hand), Italian perfume (garlic), Jewish flag (paper money), French cap (a condom), . . . . "

Boy these are vicious! I have heard and used Mexican Standoff and the Chinese fire drill. I honestly never considered these as derogatory but that must be the origin. The other Mexican statements are all new to me here in a border state. Mexican Athlete quite often is called the winner and Mexcian Breakfast is an egg burrito (great on camping trips).

The others reflect ethnic groupings which we in Texas don't experience since these folks are all just one of us. (All the eastern Polelock jokes are Aggie Jokes down here)
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Mexican stand-off

Post by Bobinwales » Fri Jul 07, 2006 4:06 pm

Mongrowl, I have had difficulty with your campaign to rewrite the rules of English in the past. Personally, I see little purpose in using a comma instead of an apostrophe, but in your post above you have used "party,s" twice, but your "don't" looks pretty conventional. I have not long been let into the secret of “it's” and “its” myself, so I won't bring that into the argument. Louis, I have to ask, what is the point?
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Mexican stand-off

Post by gdwdwrkr » Fri Jul 07, 2006 5:56 pm

Bob, you would use an apostrophe there?!
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Mexican stand-off

Post by mongrowl » Sat Jul 08, 2006 12:44 am

I have had difficulty with your campaign
Bob, when it comes to punctuation, there are no rules, only 'house' styles. If there were real rules, there would be someone to blame for the piss-poor norms that do exist. I think you know what I think you can do with your "rules".
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Mexican stand-off

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sat Jul 08, 2006 1:08 am

I assume there's not a grammarian or etymologist within 50 miles of Boise whom Louis has not tried to gun into submitting to his house style (whatever that is -- it's rather hard to tell amid the spattered gore of his own stuttering punctuation).
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