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eighty-six: verb [86]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Mr Bones, May 10, 2006.

  1. Mr Bones

    Mr Bones Senior Member

    España - Español
    Hello, folks. I was doing an exercise about expressions on the Internet and I came across this question with its answer:

    The people at the next table have had way too much to drink and are starting to fight. A big guy who works at the bar throws them out and tells them they can NEVER return. What just happened?

    Answer:The bouncer eighty-sixed them.

    Could you explain me where It comes from and who uses it? It sounds really odd to me. Is it current English?

    Thank you. Bones.
    Please, correct my mistakes.
  2. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Hi Mr Bones--

    It's slang:

    To refuse to serve (an unwelcome customer) at a bar or restaurant.
    a. To throw out; eject.
    b. To throw away; discard.
  3. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    As to etymology, how about "origin unknown""

    source: http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=19961101
  4. scotu Senior Member

    Paradise: LaX.Nay.Mex.
    Chicago English
    fifty years ago when I worked in a restrauant "86" was the code for "out of an item" for instance we're out of fish= "86 the fish"
    86 also means "you are out of here" when you are kicked out of a place. The bouncer might say "that's it, you're 86'd". Last night I heard an English barmaid say about a woman "she's 86'd" meaning she was no longer welcome in the bar.
    It can also mean "throw it out" as in "86 the milk, it's sour"
    Maybe the word's orgin is derived from Chumley's bar and restaurant at 86 Bedford Street in Greenwich Village, New York City
  5. Mr Bones

    Mr Bones Senior Member

    España - Español
    Thank you, Cuchu and Scotu. Very interesting explanations! I'd also like to know if this expression, which seems to be American, is known and used in other parts of the English-speaking world as well.

    Thanks, Bones.
  6. scotu Senior Member

    Paradise: LaX.Nay.Mex.
    Chicago English
    Yhis expression is common in usa, since the barmaid who used this expression last night was english I assume it is used there also,
  7. petereid

    petereid Senior Member

    selby yorkshire
    I can't imagine that many English people would understand the expression.
    "You're barred" seems to be the preferred excuse for removing/stopping someone.
  8. maxiogee Banned

    According to Michael Quinion's World Wide Words,

  9. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Note the conflict between the OED's rather tentative.."It seems that...." and the assertion in the source I quoted earlier.

    Rhyming slang is close to unknown in the US. This may be a rare exception, but with no more "proof" than an 'it seems' from the OED, I'm very hestitant to accept this etymology as more than a vague theory.

    The term seems to be well known is the restaurant trade. It is not common elsewhere.
  10. scotu Senior Member

    Paradise: LaX.Nay.Mex.
    Chicago English
    What's BE for " you are no longer welcome in this establishment" ?
  11. emma42 Senior Member

    North East USA
    British English
    I have never heard "eighty-sixed" used in English and I know loads of words!

    BE for "you are no longer welcome in this establishment" is

    "You are no longer welcome in this establishment"(!) OR "You're barred"
  12. daviesri Senior Member

    Houston, TX
    USA English
    When I worked in restaurants it meant "we were out of the item" on the menu or we were going to "throw something out". Here is some more info on origin:
  13. quilks Member

    Durham, UK
    English, UK
    "You are no longer welcome in this establishment"...

    Depending on the type of establishment you might hear:
    "Kindly leave, Sir" (to a man who has just set the lobsters free in a restaurant)
    "You're barred!" (to rapscallions fighting in a pub)
    "Oy, hop it!" (to young tykes throwing pebbles at the window of the corner shop)

    Eighty-six will only be understood in the UK by avid viewers of NYPD Blue.
  14. Bridget.Qiao Member

    <Excessive quotation deleted>

    The Drunk: I appreciate your concern. It's not my intention to make you uncomfortable. Please serve me today and I'll never come in
    here again. If I do, you can 86 me.

    The Bartender: Stop XXXXXXX with me, I can 86 you anytime I want to.

    I heard this conversation from a film, can anyone tell me what does 86 mean?

    Many thanks.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 12, 2009
  15. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    It's slang for a bartender kicking someone out of a bar because they have already had too much too drink. It can also refer to simply getting rid of something or someone.
  16. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    Hi Bridgit,

    I believe it is American English slang. I know it means "to get rid of someone or something" or "to throw out someone or something." More recently, it is coming to mean "to fire someone": I lost my job today; they 86'd me!
  17. Bridget.Qiao Member

    I see. Thanks a lot.
  18. shaloo

    shaloo Senior Member

    Do they read it as "eighty-six" or "eight-six" ?
  19. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español

    Definitely "eighty-six."
  20. shaloo

    shaloo Senior Member

    Thanks bibliolept! :)
  21. SwissPete

    SwissPete Senior Member

    94044 USA
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    Wiki explains the expression here.
  22. Bridget.Qiao Member

  23. Bridget.Qiao Member


    I'm extremely grateful to you for many theories.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2009
  24. L'Homme Inconnu

    L'Homme Inconnu Senior Member

    Back o' Beyond
    English English
    This is certainly an AE expression: I have never come across this in BE, so this has been very enlightening for me too!!
  25. L.2 Senior Member

    Saudi Arabia
    Hello everyone
    Is the following correct?
    He eighty six me (he rejects me)
    Is this how Americans use 86?
    Is it common?
    Thank you.
  26. L.2 Senior Member

    Saudi Arabia
    Thank you Paul..
    Is it used only in resturants?
  27. JamesM

    JamesM Senior Member

    No, it can be used about plans, projects, even clothing.

    "I was planning to go to Europe next summer, but with a baby on the way we've 86'd those plans."
    "Corporate 86'd the new project so we'll probably see some layoffs now."
    "86 the jacket; it makes you look fat." :)
  28. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    "Geerraaht my pub!" (get out of my pub)

    I've never heard of "to 86" before.
  29. cdrsoccer New Member

    86 is the standard number for the lockout relay on an electrical circuit breaker. If the 86 is set then your electrical breaker will not reset, i.e. you cannot come back in. This is probably as old as the 50 years comment from the restaurant industry, but some professional etymologist would need to research this to decide.
  30. JWCasos New Member

    English USA
    86 is also used in gambling casinos in Nevada, at least in the northern part of the state, which is where I first heard it. Its general meaning is to eject someone from the premises for seriously unacceptable behavior (i.e. counting cards or trying to cheat or steal in some other way or winning "too much"). It is usually the management (through the cameras on the ceiling) and/or the pit boss who makes that observation and takes the action. The implication of these 86's is that they are permanent.
  31. deuruguay Senior Member

    Uruguay Spanish
    In fact, at: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=eighty-sixed " This term comes all the way from the wild west (and not the 1980's as previously defined), where a bartender would only serve the 86 proof whiskey to customers already too drunk"
  32. JamesM

    JamesM Senior Member

    The Urban Dictionary is not a reliable source for facts. This origin may or may not be true. Anyone can write an entry in the Urban Dictionary. There is no editing or verification.
  33. Bruennhilde Member

    Español de España
    Thanks a lot!ow I understand. TV Show "MASH":

    B.J: Freshgloves!
    Klinger: All out, sir.
    B.J.: I beg your pardon?
    Klinger: That's it for the gloves. They're torn, shot, finished, eighty-sixed.
  34. pwmeek

    pwmeek Senior Member

    SE Michigan, USA
    English - American
    (Moved from another thread, so there may some repetition)

    Off the menu in AE restaurants is eighty-sixed. (86'd) This is rarely used directly to a customer (except under very casual and familiar circumstances), but might be heard from the kitchen, "The Rock Cod is/has been 86ed!" (This is how I first heard it, and asked the waitress.)

    There is quite a bit of variation in how this is written, since use of the term is almost entirely verbal.

    It also means thrown out or banned from a bar or restaurant (a person, not a food - either permanently or temporarily). "I got 86'd from Dooly's last night."

    A third meaning is destroyed or got rid of. "I didn't like the first draft, so I eighty-sixed it."

    For food-service workers the first meaning will be the most common (and probably is). For the rest of us, the second two definitions will seem more common.

    Wikipedia gives four completely different origins for this term:
    • (rhyming slang) for nix. (This is supposed to be American in origin; we don't use much rhyming slang.)
    • (military) AT-6 = classified for disposal (this sounds like eighty-six in speech, but may not pre-date the earliest uses)
    • (popular culture) From the Gore Vidal play "Visit To A Small Planet" (1955) which has a character who points and shouts "86" to destroy objects. (not old enough to be the source)
    • (military) Deriving from the F-86 SaberJet which had a marked superiority over the then-current MiG fighters. (This sounds like reverse-etymology to me.)
    (note that all definitions are given as true facts, in different locations; you can always trust Wikipedia :rolleyes:)

    My in-computer dictionary gives "Restaurant slang from the 1930s."

    Added after the move:

    It is interesting that this thread gives four more etymologies:
    • Chumley's Bar at 86 Bedford St. (This sounds like reverse-etymology to me.)
    • Article 86 of the New York State Liquor Code (when did this enter the Code, and was it always #86?)
    • Number for the lock-out setting on a circuit breaker (A bit specialized to have made it into common parlance.)
    • Maximum proof of liquor to be sold to an intoxicated customer. (This sounds like reverse-etymology to me.)

    This huge number of possible sources suggests to me that people have been wondering (and coming up with ideas) about this term for a very long time. At least seven of them are wrong. Frankly, I doubt all of them.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012

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