Seven come eleven
Posted: 12 September 2010 04:41 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Can anyone shed light on this phrase?  I think everyone agrees that it relates to the game of craps; but, other than the fact that seven and eleven are important numbers in the game, it’s unclear to me how the phrase arose, or precisely what it means operationally.  How would one use it?  What would it mean?  Not that I’m thinking of taking up the game, just curious.

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Posted: 12 September 2010 08:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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This answer from Question Hub seems to cover it.

In Craps, the only real difference between the Pass Line and the Come Bet is that you make a come bet after the point has been established on the Pass Line. After you make a come bet, the first roll of the dice will establish the Come point. If a 7 or 11 rolls, you are an automatic winner. But, if you roll 2, 3 or 12 on the first roll you lose.

So Seven Come Eleven, means you that any time after the first roll when a shooter has a point to make You win on natural seven or eleven and lose on craps (two, three or twelve). Any number that comes up is a come point?, and must be thrown before a seven is thrown.

The syntax gets a little tangled but I think the gist is clear.

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Posted: 12 September 2010 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Au contraire, Aldi, the gist is unclear--at least to me.  Even if I understood the rules as stated, what does “Seven come eleven” mean as an utterance in the context of a craps game, or in external reference to a craps game?  For example, does it mean, “I sure hope I get a seven or an eleven”?  If so, why wouldn’t that be expressed as “Come on, seven or eleven!” Why put the verb in the middle?  Or is “come” a verb in this phrase?  Alternately, is it just a general expression, equivalent to saying, “Well, that’s how it is in craps”—equivalent to “You win some, you lose some, and some get rained out” in reference to baseball?  And if so, still, why that odd formulation with “come” in the middle?  I just really don’t get it, but maybe I need to play the game to understand :-)

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Posted: 12 September 2010 11:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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There you have me. Perhaps it’s simply wishing that one throws a seven or eleven, both desirable totals, on one’s initial roll (the come roll). But enough of my wild-ass guessing; far better we have someone along who actually understands the game. Any crap shooters among us?

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Posted: 12 September 2010 11:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I find the collocation from 1893 on quick search. In early use “seven come eleven” was used as a name of the game, and it was an invocation or interjection used by the player. I would guess that the interjection preceded the use as the game’s name. I also see the interjection quoted several times by 1896 as “Come seven, come eleven”, which I suppose is the basic idea (with “come” likely imperative but conceivably subjunctive [cf. “come rain, come shine"]). However note that sometimes set phrases are reanalyzed, so the exact history may not be the one which seems obvious.

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Posted: 12 September 2010 11:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Reanalysis is definitely an issue with the phrase. A quick search of Google Books turns up three such reanalyses: one by a Stanford historian about the US Civil War, with seven states seceding, followed by four more to total eleven (the historian reveals that he knows the craps origin, but uses the phrase in this way anyway); one a reference to Pythagorean mysticism in invoking odd numbers (clearly by someone who doesn’t know the gambling connection); and one from a 1947 issue of Boy’s Life that makes it a reference to a supposed adage, “if it rains before seven, it quits before eleven.”

Most of the hits I’ve found are in reference to a jazz composition by that title, which may be where many who are unfamiliar with craps first came in contact with the phrase.

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Posted: 12 September 2010 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Thank you for your post, Larry. It caught me at an otiose moment, so I did some otiose thinking, followed by some otiose writing. here goes:

“seven come eleven” gets 29500 Google hits on my computer. 95 out of the first 100 hits have to do with pop music and its lyrics, not with craps (most of the other five are queries like yours, or are simply unintelligible). --- I personally wouldn’t spend a lot of time looking into the meaning of the lyrics of pop songs, but that’s a personal thing.—But why should the words of a pop song have a meaning? and why should they be carefully and accurately copied from another context, such as the game of craps? Take a moment to ask yourself where you heard the phrase “seven come eleven”. Was it at a crap game? Your posting implies that you probably didn’t hear it at a crap game. Did you hear it in the words of a song? If so, it really doesn’t need to mean anything, and you’d probably be well advise to search elsewhere than in pop lyrics for meaningful, carefully constructed phrases (try wordorigins.org, for instance ;-). How many pop singers really care whether the verb’s in the middle or not?

“come seven come eleven” gets a mere 900 Google hits, but few (if any) have to do with pop songs. Most, if not all of them, have to do with shooting craps. There is a poem by Carl Sandburg entitled “seven eleven”, in which he quotes a crap player saying “come seven come eleven”. Might it be possible that “seven come eleven” is a distortion of a crap player’s original phrase (the meaning of “come seven come eleven” is readily discernible, even to a non-crap player who knows a little about the rules)?

Of course my thinking, besides being otiose, could be hopelessly wrong. why should a crap player, if it comes to that, care if the verb’s in the middle or not? who among us is qualified to analyze, or to criticize, the mental processes of a crap player? why shouldn’t he say “seven come eleven” if the spirit moves him to do so?

Edit: i see that contributions by D wilson and Dave make my own maunderings even more otiose than they were to begin with

(sighs and returns to the bottle wherein logic absolut lies (feeble pun just occurred to me ;-)

[ Edited: 12 September 2010 12:19 PM by lionello ]
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Posted: 12 September 2010 02:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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You guys amaze me:  You always manage to come up with something interesting or possibly useful, any otiosity, intentional or otherwise, notwithstanding.  The simple addition of the initial “come” as in “come seven, come eleven” does indeed make the phrase more translucent if not perfectly transparent.  I can’t say where I first encountered the phrase, though you are right, Lionello, it was not at a craps game---but I think I’ve always known it related to the game.  What aroused my curiosity at this late stage of life was re-hearing the Coasters’ classic, “Charlie Brown.” ("Down on his knees, I know that’s him,/ Seven come eleven down in the boys’ gym.../ Charlie Brown, he’s a clown” etc.) At any rate, thank you all for your erudite comments.

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Posted: 15 September 2010 07:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I reckon the number of times I have encountered the word otiose just went up 200%.

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Posted: 15 September 2010 08:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I hope the encounter didn’t hurt ;-)

It’s a word close to my heart. Look at the meanings given it by AHD: lazy, indolent, of no use, ineffective, futile. I find it so.....autobiographical

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