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The slang usage of gone meaning pregnant is mainly a BrE one according to

Cambridge Dictionary (mainly UK informal) pregnant:

How far gone is she? (= How long has she been pregnant?)

while Collins Dictionary and The American Heritage Dictionary state that it is also an AmE usage

(US, slang) pregnant:

She is two months gone.

I couldn’t find other details about this usage so I’d like to ask:

  • Is gone meaning pregnant originally a BrE expression which later spread to AmE?

  • What sense of gone conveys the meaning of pregnant here?

  • How recent is this usage?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Feb 18 '18 at 17:47
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The earliest cited uses of this sense of gone in Green's Dictionary of Slang are actually from before the founding of the United States, even as early as the 16th century, so while it might not be called a "Britishism," it certainly originated in Britain and spread to use in the U.S. only later.

The first attested use is from Shakespeare.

  • c.1595 - [UK] - Shakespeare Love’s Labour’s Lost V ii: The party is gone; fellow Hector, she is gone; she is two months on her way [...] the child brags in her belly already.

  • 1672 - [UK] - Wycherley Love in a Wood Act V: Indeed, I found myself six months gone with Child, and saw no hopes of your getting me a Husband.

  • 1751 - [UK] - Smollett Peregrine Pickle (1964) 462: I was six months gone with child.

Later uses in American English appear, first attested by GDoS in 1933.

  • 1933 [US] J.T. Farrell Gas-House McGinty 186: The wife’s two months gone.

The phrase also appears in the 1958 novella Breakfast at Tiffany's by notable American author Truman Capote.

But, after all, he knows I’m preggers. Well, I am, darling. Six weeks gone.

  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s 75
  • The OED lists examples that predate Shakespeare: see Go, def 6: 6. intr. Of a woman or female animal: to be pregnant (with offspring). Frequently with adverb or prepositional phrase as complement indicating the length of pregnancy. Now somewhat rare, but cf. gone adj. 3. OE Ælfric Old Test. Summary: Maccabees (Julius) in W. W. Skeat Ælfric's Lives of Saints (1900) II. 104 Feower and twentig monða gæð seo modor [sc. the pregnant elephant] mid folan. – Eric Feb 16 '18 at 19:32
  • See also OED, gone, def 3. – Eric Feb 16 '18 at 19:32
  • How common is it in AmE? – user067531 Feb 16 '18 at 20:02
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    @user5768790 Native AmE speaker in the mid-Atlantic US and I've never heard it "in the wild". To me the Breakfast At Tiffany's use of it feels archaic, just like adding "darling" in the preceding sentence. – Todd Wilcox Feb 16 '18 at 20:16
  • @user5768790 rare enough that if you have to ask you shouldn't use it. – Kevin Feb 16 '18 at 21:08
6

"Far gone" is (in the US) an idiomatic concept that has application in many spheres, it's precise meaning being dependent on the context. For instance, I might have a tire on my car that is "pretty far gone". It simply means some considerable progression along a (presumably downward) course. It's definitely not limited to describing a pregnancy.

The expression is hardly new. Ngram shows that it's less common now than 100-200 years ago.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Feb 18 '18 at 17:48
5

The OED lists the meaning of Gone in the sense of pregnant:

  1. Of a woman or other female mammal: pregnant (with offspring). Chiefly with adverb or complement indicating the amount of time elapsed in pregnancy or its degree of advancement.

It cites examples that go back to at least 1543, using examples for both women and livestock. Given that this use go back so far, we might content that this was a BrE expression (since there was no AmE at that point), but I don't think that's what you were asking there.

It is, at least in my experience, not a common usage.

  • 2
    It's reasonably common with the padding OED mentions ('How far gone is she?' / 'She's pretty far gone') in informal usage. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 16 '18 at 19:17
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    I would +1 but for the last sentence - as you don't explain what countries your experience is from. – Qsigma Feb 17 '18 at 11:38

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