Well, paint me purple and call me Barney!

Discussion in 'English Only' started by birdman, May 30, 2008.

  1. birdman

    birdman Senior Member

    Taipei, Taiwan
    I have googled this expression and realized there are other expressions similar to that:

    "Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit!"

    "Well, roll me in corn-flour and call me dinner!"

    But what does it mean? And how was it originated?

    Thank you!
  2. Unknoewn13 Senior Member

    New Jersey
    English - American
    The expression means that the person has just learned something surprising, possibly contrary to what they had ever believed or what they believed would happen. For example, if your sister bet one thousand dollars that a 100-year old woman with arthritis would win a marathon, and the woman actually won, you might respond with "paint me purple and call me Barney" or another one of the phrases you mentioned. Just in case you are unaware (I don't mean to be insulting), Barney is a purple dinosaur from a children's television program.

    I don't know exactly where the phrases originated, but I have a guess. If your sister told you before the race that she had put one thousand dollars on an old woman, you might tell her "If she wins, then my name isn't Bob" (given that your name is Bob). This expression implies that the chance of the woman winning is as great as you having mistaken your name your entire life. Thus, when she actually wins, you might say "paint me purple and call me Barney," as if saying now that she won, your name must be wrong as well.
  3. seraphic_allure New Member

    English - American
    It basically means, "No way!" or "That's amazing!" or "Oh my God, really?!"
    I believe it originated from Southern American slang from just looking at it.
    It probably was used since you can't really "butter your butt" (haha) and call yourself a biscuit, neither can you roll yourself in corn-flour and call yourself dinner, nor paint your purple and call yourself Barney.
    All of these are not possible, which is why it means, "You're kidding!"
  4. cycloneviv

    cycloneviv Senior Member

    Perth, Western Australia
    English - Australia
    I know we've had at least one lengthy discussion on this type of exclamation in recent times, but I can't remember its title (nor the title of the earlier thread to which that recent thread was referred). Any old-thread-finding-experts around?
  5. birdman

    birdman Senior Member

    Taipei, Taiwan
    Thanks folks, that's quick.
    So, do I understand it is similar to, or simply put, "You gotta be kidding me?"
  6. Unknoewn13 Senior Member

    New Jersey
    English - American
    Yep, it can be used where you would say "You gotta be kidding me." However, remember that, just like "you gotta be kidding me," the phrases don't necessarily imply a denial or overwhelming disbelief, but rather simply shock at what has occurred.
  7. Toadie

    Toadie Senior Member

    I'd say all of those things are possible ;)
  8. cycloneviv

    cycloneviv Senior Member

    Perth, Western Australia
    English - Australia
    Hmm. To me, "you gotta be kidding me" is something you say when you are unhappy about some surprising thing, for example: We've been planning this trip for months - all the accommodation is booked - and now you're telling me you don't want to come? You('ve) gotta be kidding me!"

    These kinds of playful expressions don't have that kind of negative implication, so to me they're more similar to things like "Wow!", "That's absolutely amazing!" and "I'm absolutely astonished!"

    I hope that helps. :)
  9. Unknoewn13 Senior Member

    New Jersey
    English - American
    I agree with cycloneviv.

    "You've gotta be kidding me!" does have some negative implications, although it can be used in positive situations.

    The expressions are generally positive.
  10. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US

    Here you go: an entertaining and lengthy thread: Amazing expression of amazement.

    And the more recent discussion of a particular example, though it strays a bit: Well, spank me rosy.

Share This Page