A silly joke about a parrot made the rounds of 19th-century American newspaper, and may be the source for our expression “cry uncle,” meaning “to give up.” This is part of a complete episode.

  1. Al says:

    This explanation, of all you have ever given, seems the most contrived. Why was being used as the word for the parrot? This seems more like a joke based on an existing expression — which brings me to the theory I accept…

    In “How The Irish Invented Slang,” by Daniel Cassidy, he claims that the Gaelic word for mercy is “anacal” (loosely pronounced ahna-kaal). The influx of Irish immigrants is what brought this saying to America, as well as a book of other expressions. Most of these expressions were not written in literature, so it’s easy for their origins to be lost

  2. Daniel Cassidy and his book are completely unacceptable to source material. Read my full review of it and his theories here: https://grantbarrett.com/humdinger-of-a-bad-irish-scholar/

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