Take a hinge
Posted: 01 September 2009 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  3103
Joined  2007-01-30

Another odd usage from an early 30s movie, this one is from The Man With Two Faces (1934) starring Edward G. Robinson. Near the beginning of the movie a newspaper cutting is shown giving notice of an upcoming play.

Ben Weston’s new mystery meller, The Dark Tower, is still being polished up out of town. This week the socialites at Locust Valley, L.I. will take a hinge at it at the Red Barn Theatre.

It seems to mean ‘take a look’ but the phrase is absent from OED. Anything in the slang dics?

BTW it’s interesting to see the British spelling of theatre in this American movie. Is it still often spelt thus in the US?

D’oh! It’s just struck me that it’s simply a variant of take a swing at, which would fit the hinge figure perfectly. Did it get much use though? I’ve certainly never heard it before.

[ Edited: 01 September 2009 07:02 AM by aldiboronti ]
Posted: 01 September 2009 07:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  6485
Joined  2007-01-03

It’s in the Historical Dictionary of American Slang, cited from 1935; so you seem to have antedated that by a year. HDAS gives no etymology for this one.

It’s not uncommon to find the theatre spelling in the proper names of US theaters. It’s like Ye Olde Cheese Shoppe.

Posted: 06 September 2009 01:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  283
Joined  2007-02-23

The Cassell slang dictionary relates “take a hinge at” to ‘the turning of one’s head’. This seems likely to me.

The older (I think) and far more prevalent equivalent is “take a gander at”. It would seem that the reference is to a long flexible neck (and there is the verb “ganderneck”, equivalent to “rubberneck"), although this is not necessarily provably the true etymology of this “gander” (there may have been ‘reanalysis’).

Other equivalents also probably refer to a flexible neck. One can find, e.g., at G. Books (searching for ‘exact phrase’):

//take a gander at the//
//take a hinge at the//
//take a swivel at the//
//take a rubber at the// (this one not in any of my dictionaries at a glance, although the verb “rubber” = “rubberneck” appears)

... all meaning essentially “take a look at the”. Maybe there are still more members of this group?

[ Edited: 06 September 2009 02:01 PM by D Wilson ]
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