Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The phrase to "do one" — essentially an insult meaning to "do a disappearing act" (if the Urban Dictionary's definitions* are anything to go by) — seems to be a fairly recent phenomenon. Where did it come from? Is there any particular usage of it (such as by a celebrity or on a TV show) that led to it gaining traction?

*warning: some of the definitions contain expletives

share|improve this question
2  
Urban Dictionary is an interesting window into the way a few young Americans talk, but not to be relied on as a guide to English usage. –  TimLymington Apr 3 '13 at 14:51
1  
@TimLymington True - but there are plenty of other examples of this phrase being used. I asked the question because I was about to use it myself, and started wondering where it came from. It's definitely colloquial/slangy in nature, not for general use as you rightly say. –  Waggers Apr 3 '13 at 14:56
    
possible duplicate of What did "your mom did a number on you" mean in Seinfeld?. I was pretty boggled when I tried to do a Google search for do a number using Google Chrome (apparently the search engine though I was going to search for do a barrel roll). Those guys are weird. –  FumbleFingers Apr 3 '13 at 17:30
    
@FumbleFingers Searching for "do one" didn't get me very far either! –  Waggers Apr 4 '13 at 10:31
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The OED says it's chiefly and originally Liverpool and Lancashire slang and compares it to do a bunk and do a runner. Their earliest citation is the Liverpool soap opera Brookside from 1990:

Look just do one, will y' Sinbad!

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.