This morning during that time between asleep and awake, some scenario was playing out in my semi-conscious which included the phrase “screw you and the horse you rode in on”.
I remember my father using that phrase, and yes back in those innocent times the word was ‘screw’ not ‘fuck’, tho research has revealed that even back in those days fuck was used, but not by my father. So off to Google the origin of the phrase and it was enlightening and fun.
First, the meaning. “It’s basically a way of saying screw you while commenting on how entitled or arrogant the person is” (, Entrepreneur, Educator, Author).
More fun, all the discussions of this phrase reference an article by William Safire back in 1998, the best part being “One Editor Michael Seidman recalls hearing the phrase while growing up in the Bronx in the 1950s. He remembers hearing people say, “…and the white horse you rode in on and all your relatives in Brooklyn.”
Now that makes perfect sense to me since we were living in the Bronx back in the 1950’s and that’s where my father was born and grew up, in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. I don’t remember him using the Brooklyn reference but still when I read that, I just had to laugh – so something my father would say.
Back in the old days New Yorkers were very provincial, very protective of the borough they called home. You weren’t from New York City you were from Brooklyn or Queens or The Bronx or Staten Island. People who lived in Manhattan lived in ‘the city’ and us other borough people would refer to Manhattan as such. If you worked in Manhattan you worked in ‘the city’.
I wrote an extensive essay about how we NY’ers view ourselves and our city, if you want the backstory you can read it here.
For many years I was physically ill from homesickness for New York City, I’ve gotten over that but NYC is totally who and what I am. So many things that people find odd or strange about me are just things that are New York – no big deal and common as dirt for those of us who come from there.
I’m going to do something dangerous here and assume y’all have heard this phrase before. If you haven’t let me know, and share some phrase that you feel is native to where you come from.