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#1 2006-02-16 19:04:22

jonnie5
Member
Registered: 2006-02-16
Posts: 1

"fisticuffs," "fistacuffs" or "fist to cuffs"?

If referring to a fight, what is the correct term?

I’ve always wondered about this one. Dictionary.com gives me fusticuffs.
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=fisticuffs

But, a quick search of google gives a (recent) FOX affiliate news story with “fist to cuffs”
http://www.wdaftv4.com/fullstory.asp?ID=12446

Also, a search of “fist a cuffs” brings up a post at phrases.org which asks of “fist a cuffs” orgin.
http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_boar … s/488.html

From there, a little bit of digging will bring you to another post where a user asks about the origin of “fist to cuffs” and is given the answer:

“The word ‘fisticuffs’ dates back to the early 17th century, combining ‘fistic’ (related to fighting with the fists) and ‘cuff’ which (still) means a punch. Fisty cuffs became fisticuffs, a fist fight.”
http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_boar … /1388.html

The internet is a strange place, so it’s hard for me to guess who’s right. I wish I had my A.P. style book with me, but I left it at my old house :(

Anyway, I just thought it was interesting, good example of an eggcorn. Really like the site, by the way.

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#2 2009-08-25 18:24:59

pwoodford
Member
From: Tucson AZ
Registered: 2008-12-15
Posts: 24
Website

Re: "fisticuffs," "fistacuffs" or "fist to cuffs"?

jonnie5, I’m certain it’s “fisticuffs,” and that “fistacuffs” and “fist to cuffs” are eggcorns.


On On,
Paul Woodford
Paul’s Thing

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#3 2009-08-25 18:29:45

pwoodford
Member
From: Tucson AZ
Registered: 2008-12-15
Posts: 24
Website

Re: "fisticuffs," "fistacuffs" or "fist to cuffs"?

By the way, I was about to contribute “fist-to-cuffs” when I found your old post, so you were here with it first.

Anyway, I got an email from a friend yesterday that contained this particular eggcorn, which was new to me. She wrote:

” . . . a bunch of drunks fighting at bars; it came down to fist-to-cuffs!”


On On,
Paul Woodford
Paul’s Thing

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#4 2009-08-25 22:56:07

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2725

Re: "fisticuffs," "fistacuffs" or "fist to cuffs"?

The same sort of expansion we get with “mano-on-mano” (in our database at http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/english/370/mano-on-mano/ ). A preposition inserted to “clarify.”


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#5 2009-08-28 01:35:48

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: "fisticuffs," "fistacuffs" or "fist to cuffs"?

Thanks for bringing this back to our attention, Paul. It was posted during a period when the forum was fairly moribund, and I don’t think it got the attention it deserves. (Though more than 2100 views is nothing to sneeze at.)

The image seemed odd to me at first, but a little more thought made it look pretty reasonable—when you block someone else’s punch, you often do it with part of the forearm; a glancing blow near the wrist/cuff isn’t so unlikely.

Kem’s comment may also help explain one odd feature I noticed when I went looking for more examples on the web. A few dozen posters say “went fist to cuffs,” which made a fair bit of sense. But then I discovered that even more people were writing “went fisticuffs,” which seems less easily explained. Perhaps the people using the latter spelling are thinking/pronouncing “fist to cuffs.” But perhaps they’re reformulating the phrase on the pattern of “went mano a mano” instead. If so, it’s a neat example of conceptual bleed-through.

And it’s nice to have a poster with a link to the world of the Hash House Harriers, Paul. I’ve often thought the world would be a better place if all of us in these non-violent, idiosyncratic little subcultures made common cause.

Last edited by patschwieterman (2009-08-28 02:00:08)

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