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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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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
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up vote 3 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
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