snowing to beat the band

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snowing to beat the band

Post by Archived Topic » Sun Aug 15, 2004 6:15 am

Can anyone please tell me the origin of the phrase, "snowing to beat the band"?
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snowing to beat the band

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Aug 15, 2004 6:29 am

Can't swear to the authenticity of this site ("Sayings and Everyday Expressions" at http://www.geocities.com/PicketFence/7608/index.html), but here's one explanation.

BEAT THE BAND---Outdoes anything around.---"It was raining to beat the band."---In the early 1900's band concerts were popular and bands often played at ceremonial events. The band would be the most audible and conspicuous entity around. Any action or performance which outdid the band was remarkable.---Geraldine Bonner (1900) Hard Pan "Doesn't that beat the band?"

Lois Martin, Birmingham, Alabama, February 18, 2003
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snowing to beat the band

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Aug 15, 2004 6:44 am

Shari, The expression ‘to beat the band’ is used as an adverbial phrase and ‘snowing’ just happens to be what it was chosen to modify in this case. The expression means to the greatest possible degree, excessively, a lot – to say the least, incredibly. The expression is first recorded in 1897, probably from the idea of making more noise than a loud band. Another explanation, probably more appropriate for the related ‘that beats the band,’ is also given.
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Facts on File Dictionary of Clichés

TO BEAT THE BAND: Outstandingly, surpassing all others. One writer believes that this item comes from the idea of making more noise than a loud band, and the OED concurs, it means literally to drown out the band. It originated in late 19th century Britain and soon traveled to the United States, Canada, and other English-speaking lands. “I was lickety-split to beat the band,” boasted C.M. Flandrau (Harvard Episodes, 1897).
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Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins

BEAT THE BAND: Banagher, an Irish town on the Shannon, was in the mid-19th century a notorious ‘pocket borough’ where most residents were employed by the local lords and voted as he directed (were ‘in his pocket’). It became a standing joke in Parliament at the time to quip ‘Well that beats (or bangs) Banagher!’ whenever someone mentioned a pocket borough where ‘every’ resident was employed by the local lord. Either via this route, or because of an Irish minstrel named Bannagher who told amazing stories, the saying ‘that beats Banagher,’ for ‘anything amazing or superior,’ became an English favorite. It’s reasonable to suggest, as Partridge does, that the later phrase ‘that beats the band,’ derived from it. The alliterative expressions do sound alike and ‘bang’ (from both the alternate version and Banagher) would suggest ‘band’—that beats something louder, bigger, than a great brass band. Attempts to connect ‘that beats the band’ with several real bands have all failed.
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Ken G – February 19, 2003




Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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