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Where I live (Canada) people sometimes say "hang a larry" or "make a larry" when they mean turn left, like when they're driving. I'm at a dinner party and we're trying to figure out where this expression came from. Can you help us? We promise to laugh heartily.

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4  
I'm curious about what part of Canada you live in. I've heard "hang a louie" but not larry. – Joel Brown Jan 8 '12 at 0:39
    
Like Joel above, I've hear of "hang a Louie" but not a "Larry," and I'm not even Canadian. I'd guess that both of them came about merely because of the initial "L." – Kevin Jan 8 '12 at 3:51
    
I live in Montreal but have heard that expression in different parts of Canada and US - which ones I can't remember – ted.strauss Jan 8 '12 at 23:03
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Hang a larry, with under 3000 Google results (and many of them irrelevant), is way less common than hang a louie, with about 36000 results. Yet the etymology of hang a louie is unknown. The likelihood of the etymology of hang a larry ever being known is in the neighborhood of zero.

What is known about hang a louie is well-presented in a worldwidewords article by Michael Quinion. Also see the wordwizard.com article on the topic. It quotes as follows from Oxford English Dictionary:

TO HANG A LEFT, RIGHT, etc. colloquial (originally and chiefly U.S.). Also jocular with proper names having the appropriate initial letter, as Louie, Ralph, etc.): to go or turn in the specified direction, especially while travelling...
Quote: <1967 “If you're in your pig [sc. car, in Detroit] and you ‘HANG A LOUIE’, you've just turned left. If you ‘HANG A RALPH,’ it's a right turn, ‘HANG A SAM’ is go straight and ‘HANG A ULYSSES’ means make a U-turn [...].”—Evening Standard (London), 26 July [1967], page 13/3>

Especially note the phrase "with proper names having the appropriate initial letter, as Louie, Ralph, etc.", which may supply as much explanation as we can expect.

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"Hang a Ulysses" is funny - in California (and I'm sure other places), we say "flip a bitch" for make a u-turn. – Dennis Jan 8 '12 at 20:45

Left turn Larry is a very common term in the U.S for cars (codgers) that pull out in front of motorcycles to turn left. They are extremely dangerous. They are one of the most common causes of car-motorcycle crashes, because they don't see the oncoming motorcycle.

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protected by Rathony Mar 12 at 4:43

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