spanty new
Posted: 21 May 2017 06:53 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m reading Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March, a reliable source of linguistic pleasure and discovery, and in chapter 3 the narrator says of his brother:

The family had to lay out the deposit on a uniform, and he began to keep midnight hours, downtown and on the trains, smart and cadet-like in the spanty new uniform.

I’d never heard the phrase “spanty new,” and I thought it might be a misprint, but Google Books has a number of examples, mostly from another Chicago writer, Nelson Algren, e.g.:

There he was, in a spanty-new topcoat ‘n new tan shoes ‘n a green-stripe tie. --The Neon Wilderness

They’d crashed into the light standard of the safety island, bounced over the broken base and slammed sidewise into a billboard offering everyone in Chicago a spanty-new paste-and-paper Nash. --The Man with the Golden Arm

But this is from a recent book, Mogue Doyle’s Down a Road All Rebels Run (2006):

I’d get back, though, I promised myself, on the straight and narrow: back to church of a Sunday and Saturday-night confession - you’d feel so spanty new coming out - when all this trouble would end.

Anybody know anything about it?

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Posted: 21 May 2017 07:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It’s not in any of the usual reference works. Given Bellow’s use of it, it should at least make the OED, but perhaps they haven’t gotten around to it.

Mogue Doyle is an Irish writer, so that throws a wrench into any theories (both Bellow and Algren were Jewish, in addition to the Chicago association). But perhaps he picked it up from reading Bellow.

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Posted: 21 May 2017 08:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It is used with whatever a “sideburner haircut” is several times. How old is that term?

https://www.google.com/search?tbm=bks&hl=en&q=spanty+new#hl=en&tbm=bks&q=spanty-new+sideburner+haircut

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Posted: 21 May 2017 09:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Wondering if spanty new might have been a spinn-off from brand-spanking new,
I began hunting for the origins of that phrase.  There is a slight possibility, but no clear
lineage.

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/brand-spanking-new.html

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