Q From Anthony Pennock: Why do we say no soap?
A The word soap has had several slang meanings down the years. In the middle nineteenth century in the USA it was used to mean money, though we don’t know why. It’s first recorded about 1860, but by then was probably well established. So somebody who said “No soap!” meant something like “No, I haven’t any money” or “No, I won’t give you a loan”. The modern sense — nothing doing, not a hope, no chance — is a generalisation. Americans have kept no soap but have forgotten the sense of soap that it sprang from.
Search World Wide Words
Recently added pieces
Zoilism; Fish-faced; Poach; Immensikoff; Habiliments; The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker; Agister; The Word at War; Not so green as you’re cabbage-looking; Peely-wally; Draw a line in the sand; Porphyrogeniture; Set one’s cap at; Epicaricacy; Furthest and farthest; Hide one’s light under a bushel; Jentacular.
Support World Wide Words!
Donate via PayPal. Select your currency from the list and click Donate.
Buy from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you. Select your preferred site and click Go!