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The phrase "damn straight" is now used as a way to emphatically agree with a statement, but where does it come from, and what did it mean originally?

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2 Answers 2

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Etymonline reports that straight to mean "true, direct, honest" is from 1520s.

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e.g. "Are you being straight with me?" –  advs89 Mar 16 '11 at 20:37
also: "Do you have you facts straight?" –  advs89 Mar 16 '11 at 20:38
Let's not confuse it with "are you straight?" –  kiamlaluno Mar 16 '11 at 20:40
Which "are you straight" are you referring to? I can think of several... –  advs89 Mar 16 '11 at 20:42
"Are you straight (as in heterosexual)," or "Are you straight (as in accurate or honest)?" Because I would argue that the latter is the same definition as the one you're referring to. (or at least close enough) –  advs89 Mar 16 '11 at 20:46

The third entry in NOAD lists the meaning of straight as

3 not evasive; honest : a straight answer | thank you for being straight with me.

Note the first example: a straight answer. The comment "damn straight" emerges directly from this kind of construction. It is always used in response to a statement that the speaker strongly agrees with, and is an acknowledgement of the candor and frankness of the original statement.

But there's more. It also parallels a similar possible response: "Damn right" (meaning "You're damned right.") and means the same thing. These two are interchangeable and probably merged in meaning; one often hears "You're damn[ed] straight," completing the merge. So in this sense "straight" and "right" mean pretty much the same thing. The actual meanings of "straight" and "right" are less important than the emphatic note of strong agreement.

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The emphatic note is due to "Damn[ed]" being a (mild) profanity. –  Wayne May 17 '11 at 14:09

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