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"Do one" what?
Looking for etymology behind a British slang phrase
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Hi all – long time listener, yadda yadda…

I recently came across a new-to-me British slang phrase  “do one”, meaning (rudely) “go away”, “leave me alone”, etc.

I’m curious about the etymology behind this expression. I assume it’s a truncation or abbreviation of a more verbose expression, but what could it be?

What “one” is is one being asked to “do”?

Any ideas?


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The Oxford English Dictionary lists two extended phrases: do a bunk and do a runner. Since it is unlikely that two visiting persons are at one of their bunks (beds) or are running together, the one being told would have to go away from the speaker to accomplish either phrase. One appears to have been substituted for any activity which must be done away from the speaker.


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I found several places that just defined it as “go away.” (Often in cruder language) Only one comment in Urban Dictionary said it meant “Do a disappearing act.”   Who knows?

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