I'll be darned » all be darned

Classification: English – idiom-related

Spotted in the wild:

  • “There are zillions of SPAM concoctions on the internet - everything from Rack of Spam to Spammus to Spam soup. But all-be-darned if I couldnt find one for SPAM cake.” (E-mail to Jeff Shaumeyer, quoted on his blog (bearcastle.com/blog/).)
  • “…you know, all be darned, I have never seen that before. never. I know the rule, … I’ve known it all My Life, and all be darned, there it Is.” (link)
  • “… well all be darned if that didnt work!!! Thx alot!!!! not understanding how it is working cause line 28 and 29 are the else statements for setting the …” (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Chris Ambidge, David Fenton (Usenet newsgroup soc.motss, 2-3 October 2005)

Hundreds of Google web hits, some (like the first cite above) with hyphens, most without. The first cite was quoted on soc.motss by Chris Ambidge, and he and David Fenton both immediately realized the possibly eggcornic character of the expression. (This quotation also illustrates overnegation; the meaning expressed is one that would be rendered in standard English as “I’ll be darned if I could find one for SPAM cake” ‘I couldn’t find one for SPAM cake’.)

The vowel of the contraction “I’ll” is often monophthongized, even by speakers (like me) who don’t generally monophthongize /aj/. This yields something that could easily be interpreted as a variant of “darn it all”.

There are some parallel occurrences of “all be damned” to be found among the many irrelevant hits — for instance: “It may be all style and shock value, but
all be damned if it doesn’t look good.” (link)

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/10/03 |

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