In The Fortune Cookie (1966) Walter Matthau's character, a cunning lawyer, says:

What's the matter? You feel sorry for insurance companies? They got so much money they don't know what to do with it. They've run out of storage space--they have to microfilm it. What's a quarter of a million to them? They take it out of petty cash. So don't give me with the scruples.

"Don't give me with the scruples!" sounds very peculiar to my ear, syntactically. People say "I have no scruples against doing that." But "Don't give me with" is a curious construct, so is "Don't give me with the scruples." Walter Matthau had a very typical New York accent and way of speaking. I wonder if this is his idiolect or something typical of (dated?) NY dialect?

Edit: Jack Lemmon's character later in the same movie says something similar: "Don't give me with that torch."

  • It's slang/elliptical speech. Don't try too hard to analyze the syntax.
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 26, 2020 at 17:15
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    It's absolutely New York Jewish/Yiddish dialect. Make with, give me with, etc. Sep 26, 2020 at 18:00
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    Stop with the complaining already! Sep 26, 2020 at 19:52
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    I'm BrE, not AmE, so maybe it's not up to me to have an opinion on "valid" variations on an idiomatic theme in NYC. But so far as I'm concerned, the cited example is effectively a "malapropism" (not uncommon when screenwriters are trying to reflect colloquial speech outside their own register). The idiomatic standard is [don't] make with the [un]desirable thing, not don't give me with [the undesirable thing]. Sep 27, 2020 at 12:58

2 Answers 2


I suspect this is a parallel to "make with the", which is slang for "Produce, Perform".

make with
slang: PRODUCE, PERFORM —usually used with the
Straighten up and walk … make with the feet

[Merriam Webster]

Another example "make with the music" = "Start the music"

Hence "don't give with the scruples" = "don't express your moral doubts to me".

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    @FumbleFingers "If you don't make with the sex exactly when I want it {you'll be punished}" I love it when you talk dirty, and especially when you make with the curly brackets. Sep 26, 2020 at 18:01
  • @Decapitated Soul Many Thanks to you for your editing, Heidless Soul. I try to achieve your excellent formatting but still seem to fall short too often.
    – Anton
    Sep 26, 2020 at 21:26

I think it could be simply idiosyncratic speech modelled on "Don't give me that scruples nonsense/trash/crap/…!".

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