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pure D

Posted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 9:56 pm
by Tex
Hi all - long time since I've had one I couldn't find the asnwer to myself.

Any enlightenment you can offer on the origin of the phrase Pure D to mean something that's 100% what it's supposed to be (as in authentic and pure without dilution)? When I googled this phrase, someone has a song called "Pure D Cowboy." (as in, the real deal, I guess). You sometimes hear it used in conjunction with the word bullsh*t (like when someone's lying, you say, that's Pure D bullsh*t!).

It probably comes from some sort of product grading system (like D was the best grade of milk or something ). Just curious and cannot find the answer but know you guys will!


pure D

Posted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 2:04 am
by Ken Greenwald
Tex, Never heard this one but the two sources I found it in say the origin is not certain. The evidence, however, looks pretty strong to me for the probable origin provided by the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE):

PUREDEE adjective, adverb. Also PURE-D, PURE DEE OLD, PURE O.D., PURE OLDEE, PURE-T [[all forms in lower case]] [Probably originally euphemism for pure damn(ed)] chiefly South and South Midland, U.S.: Genuine, real, just plain; very, really, completely.

Here’s what Cassell's Dictionary of Slang had to say, which is much less convincing, based on the quotes that follow:

PURE-D adjective (also PURE-DEE, PURE IDEE) [1950s and still in use] (U.S.): Complete, absolute, utter [‘pure,’ adverb + ‘D,’ adjective?]

D adjective [early 19th century]: Excellent, wonderful, first rate. [? abbreviation for ‘dandy’ (late 18th century and still in use): first rate, excellent, a general term of approbation].
<1938 “It’s the Pure D truth.”—Guide Mississippi FWP [[?? Field Worker Proposal]]

<1941 Texas “‘Them folks are mean out there,’ Mrs. Clampett said. ‘Just pure dee mean.’”—Hold Autumn by Perry, page 203 >

<1952 “Kip’s lip curled at this slovenly practice, one which he has always called purdee shif’less.” Ibid “You’re puredee heller.”—Home is Upriver by Harwin (Hench College), page 8 and 187>

<1953 OzarksPure dee . . . Genuine, indubitable. ‘No, them ain’t no chigger bites. That’s the pure dee seven-year itch!’”—Down in the Holler by Randolph & Wilson, page 275>

<1958 central Texas “It’s pure-dee hog-hunting weather.”—Meskin Hound by Lathham, page 53>

<1964 North Carolina “He loafed about his office playing patience in a white uniform and pure-T bare feet, which scared all his patients away.”—If Morning Ever Comes by Tyler, page 44>

<1968 LouisianaA dull and stupid person, Pure-d dumb”—DARE Question HH3, Louisiana informant 35>

<1970 Texas “Elliott . . . found a pair of nearly new overalls . . . dry socks and one of his father’s gray work shirts. ‘Lordy, lordy. You wouldn’t know me from a pure-dee old scissorbill, Grady said wryly with satisfaction.”—Harper’s Magazine, April, page 80>

<1972 New York City [Black] “So this one day Miss Moore rounds us all up at the mailbox and it’s PUREDEE hot and she’s knockin herself out about arithmetic.”—in Calling the Wind (1973) by Major, page 348>

<1982 Indiana “I have heard pure D. in Southern Indiana used as what seemed to me to be a negative intensifier—it almost always precedes a negative word, nonsense, mean, ornery, etc.; Mississippi “During my youth, I often heard the usage in question, always, or nearly always—as pure oldee; Louisiana “Around 1950, I heard and used the phrase ‘pure D. It was used pejoratively (e.g., in response to a tall story, ‘That’s a load of pure D horse shit!’)”; central eastern Texas “In this part of Texas, as well as in the Houston area where I grew up, we said ‘pure O.D. __________,’ but pure dee old (something).”—Newsletter of the American Dialect Society Letters>

<1986 central west FloridaPure D hell—unqualified hell; they give you pure D hell; pure D plumb nasty—extremely nasty; central west Arkansas they give you Pure D old belly—just plain belly”—Linguistic Atlas of the Gulf States Concordance>

<1995 “‘That catfish was puredee good.’ Pure D(amn) good.”—Signal Magazine, December>

<2001 “The first pure-D important step is to get land far from this grimy city. Land that you can work with your hands, that leaves the character of your handprint. We all need to sniff the smell of dirt on our palms.”—‘The River People’ by John McCluskey, Jr. in Callaloo. Vol. 24, No. 2, ‘The Best of Callalo Prose: A Special 25th Anniversary Issue,’ Spring, page 547>
(all quotes, except for 2001, from Dictionary of American Regional English)

Ken G – December 9, 2007

pure D

Posted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 2:19 am
by Tex
Ken -

Thanks so much for your response. I should have known it was another Southern saying - and several of your usage refs were from Texas. :)

I've never seen it spelled out PureDee or used in conjunction with Old or T. Can't even make an educated guess about what Old's got to do with it?

So, here's a refined guess based on a hybrid of your DARE explanation and one of the quotes below ("<1995 “‘That catfish was puredee good.’ Pure D(amn) good.”—Signal Magazine, December>")_

In the South, we often pronounce pretty like purty. So, maybe it's a shortened version of pretty damn _____ (purty damn shortened to Pure-D or Pure-T?) Just a guess.

I really thought it related to a product grading system - you know like lumber, milk, eggs, whiskey or something. Like Pure-D _____ was top notch pure stuff (vs. lesser grade C, B or A of whatever).

Muchas gracias,

Re: pure D

Posted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:34 pm
by Zman
When I was growing up (I'm now 76y/o) I remember my mother saying that something like a desert was "pure d sugar" when she thought it was too sweet. She grew up in Oklahoma, so it appears to be a colloquialism from the middle south.

Re: pure D

Posted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:59 pm
by Erik_Kowal
I agree with Tex that 'puredee' sounds quite similar to 'pretty' (or 'purty', as some Americans say). Some of those who use the expression may think they are saying one thing ('pure D'), while others may think they are saying something else ('pretty'/'purty').

Out of curiosity, I Googled "pure damn" and "pure damned" and compared the number of hits I obtained with the total for "pure D". I found that with a joint total of slightly over 10,000 hits, "pure damn" and "pure damned" occurred an order of magnitude less frequently than "pure D".

(I also Googled "puredee" and "pure dee" and obtained hundreds of thousands of hits, but there was so much noise in the results due to the existence of a pesky glamour model / porn star called Pure Dee that I don't think one can draw any meaningful conclusion from this.)