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Nixie on Your Tintype
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San Diego, California
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If you want to sound defiant, you could do worse than exclaiming,”Nixie on your tintype!” This phrase, meaning something to the effect of “spit on your face,” popped up in Marjorie Benton Cooke’s 1914 book, Bambi (not related to the sweet little deer). Kristin Anderson, a listener from Apalachicola, Florida, shares this great poem that makes use of the phrase. This is part of a complete episode.

Chula Vista, CA
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It isn’t “nixie,” it’s “ninny,” as in the Spoonerized poem my mother (b. Fairmont, MN 1905) used to recite:

Once there was a molicepan,
Saw a bittle lum
Sittin’ on a pence fost,
Chewin’ gubber rum.
“O,” said the molicepan,
“Won’t you simme gum?”
“Tinny on your nintype,”
Said the bittle lum.

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My mother also used to quote this ryme when she was trying to be funny.   She was born in 1908 in Mitchel, IN but grew up on a homestead in Othello, WA.   I agree with KatieJ that it was “Ninny on you tintype”.   My mother would say it real fast, like a toung twister.  

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World Wide Words Newsletter  recently (Feb. 23)  had a short article on “not on your tintype” in which they quoted the poem:

Once a big molice pan met a bittle lum

Sitting on a sturb cone chewing gubber rum.

“Hi,” said the molice pan, “won’t you simme gum?”

“Tixxy on your nin type,” said the bittle lum.

Ice-breakers, by Edna Geister, 1920.

    The article suggested that “not on your tintype” (which sounds like a variant of “nixie on your tintype”) was in use with a meaning something like, “not on your life.”

Fort Worth, TX
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Here is a slightly unrelated question. I did a search for Ice-breakers by Edna Geister and found it at Amazon with a sample of a few pages. On the first page I saw the word “ehaperone.”   I immediately thought this was a typo of “chaperone” because “chaperone” fit well in the context.   But as I read further I found “ehaperone” used two more times on the first page.   I then did a search for “ehaperone” and found five hits on Google.   Each was in a newspaper and in each one I would have suspected a typo if it were the only time I had come across this word. Here is the question: Is “ehaperone” really a word? I’ve never heard of it. Or am I just continually uncovering typos?

Ron Draney
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I think what you’re seeing with “ehaperone” is an OCR error. Someone scanned in a document in a font with an oversized serif on the letter c, the scanner read the character as an e instead, and there’s your new spelling.

Some of these errors can almost make sense. I find reference on the web to “ace of dubs” and “she shrieked in tenor”.

New River, AZ, USA
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Good eyes Ron. I was puzzled about where that “ehaperone” came from. I concur it was likely an OCR error. I use OCR on occasion, and see those errors all the time. In another font, it could have “ohaperone” or “chaperorre.” Dick is indeed uncovering typos, but not the usual anthropomorphic ones. Then again, maybe we can fault the programmers.   :)


Fort Worth, TX
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Thank you very much. I was thinking I might be really losing my mind.   I knew about OCR errors but since I never scan that way, it never occurred to me.


I know this show is over a year old, but it was just rebroadcast, so it’s new for me. My great Aunt also taught me this poem, but without any nixies

Once there was a molicepan, who met a bittle lum
sitting on a sturbing cone, chewing gubber rum
“please,” asked the molicepan, “won’t you simme gum?”
not by a sam dite, said the bittle lum

I assume “not by a dam site” or is it “damned sight” carries a similar insult

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I just heard this for the first time as well, and I was struck by the possibility that this could have been one of those silly songs that parents sing to children as they tweak their noses or belly buttons. Or, based on one of Grant’s questions regarding the rhythm of the poem, maybe it’s a song that children used to keep time while jumping rope?

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