take a powder
Posted: 02 September 2017 10:25 PM   [ Ignore ]
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What is the origin of this phrase, meaning “leave quickly”?

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Posted: 02 September 2017 10:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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What is the origin of this phrase, meaning “leave quickly”?

The origin seems uncertain.

http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-tak4.htm

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Posted: 03 September 2017 04:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The World Wide Words entry is a bit dated. The origin is known with a fair degree of confidence. The phrase is a clipping of take a run-out powder. That form dates to at least 1909, and the shorter take a powder is from at least 1911.

At question is exactly what a run-out powder is. It’s definitely some kind of substance that would make or enable you to leave quickly. Most likely it’s a reference to a laxative, forcing a quick departure for the facilities, but it could be some form of Mickey Finn that makes one woozy want to leave.

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Posted: 03 September 2017 07:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Hah! I always assumed it was just an excuse to get out of whatever situation one was in, coming from a woman going to the powder room to freshen up. That would be because we had a small room with just a sink and toilet that my folks always called the powder room. Made sense to me.

Live and learn!

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