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What is the origin of slam-bang?

I walked slam-bang into this character.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

As I have my Green's open at nearly the right page (from a previous answer), I can suggest it could be one of two meanings; either "vigourously or energetically", or "precisely, directly". Both of these meanings date from ~1840. As to the origin, the earliest reference has a firearm sort of sound: "Down went the Major, shot right through the hips, slam-bang. (R.M.Bird, Nick of the Woods, 1837).

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Definitely onomatopoeic. I found this reference back to 1789, republished in the periodical The Polyanthos in 1806:


Interestingly, the phrase appeared again in the same magazine six years later in a letter to the editor quoting some "famous Parson W__":


And from six years later still, I found this footnote to the use of the word tamb in the Doric pastoral, The Exmoor Courtship, exegeted in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, 1819:


The "translator" dates the poem to the reign of Henry VII, but this all may have been a ruse.

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