Is the origin/first usage of the phrase 'come on' known? I know there is a similar 'kom op' in Dutch (same meaning, as well as a literal translation of the words), but I don't know which took it from which, or where it came from originally.

NB: I'm talking about the varied but nebulously-connected figurative meanings along the lines of 'get moving', 'stop complaining', 'stop kidding around', 'it's not that bad'... not necessarily the literal 'come on [to the stage]' - I don't know whether that'd be related.

EDIT: I did not believe my question was a duplicate when I posted it, but further searching (prompted by @Cascabel) has turned up an earlier instance after all, from 2012. No clear answer emerged there, unfortunately.

  • 1
    I am giving you a provisional +1. Please provide a little research, and make sure there is not a duplicate here. Good Luck! Mar 25, 2021 at 20:41
  • I think the Dutch comes from 'kop op', as in 'hoofd omhoog/kin omhoog', or 'keep your head up'. It's a patronizing/reassuring phrase to tell someone to not show defeat.
    – Joachim
    Mar 25, 2021 at 20:57
  • @Cascabel I've spent a bunch of time fruitlessly googling every possible variation on 'come on idiom etymology' and 'come on phrase origin' I could think of (in both English and Dutch). Apart from that, I'm really not sure how to research this further on my own.
    – Drubbels
    Mar 25, 2021 at 23:00
  • From Etymoline: c'mon (v.) representing the common pronunciation of the verbal phrase come on, by 1929. Come on! as an urge to advance or go with is from mid-15c. (see come).
    – Xanne
    Mar 25, 2021 at 23:13
  • It's not that mysterious. "On", in this sense, is short for "onward", so "come on" basically means "come forward".
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 25, 2021 at 23:14

2 Answers 2


The origin of "come on" seems hard to find, but I can find it in English here (1691): The Miser: a comedy in five acts and in prose.

It says:

Come on, Musicianers, strike up, Hey: Here forsooth, here's your health; and would I might ne're go out of this place.

Early uses of "come on" seem to only be to get moving.

In Dutch, it has appeared during the same time (1695), in the form of Komaan: De Knorrepot, of de gestoorde Doctor. (It says "Komaan , myo Heer , ik ben gereed te tekenen" which means something like "Come on, My Lord, I am ready to sign".)

I cannot find any uses of "come on" earlier than that.


Green’s Dictionary of Slang dates the exclamation “come on!” from the early 20th century.

a general exclamation of disbelief, disapproval, irritation.

1901 [Aus] W.S. Walker In the Blood 214: ‘’Ang it all,’ says I, ‘this ’ere beats cock-fightin’! ‘Come on!’ says the cove.

1916 [US] J. Lait ‘Charlie the Wolf’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 29: ‘An’ dey tells me it took four keepers to hold ‘im.’ ‘Come on,’ said Kelly to the Wolf.

1929 [US] D. Parker ‘Big Blonde’ in Penguin Dorothy Parker (1982) 191: Ah, come on, Herb, you’ve had enough, haven’t you? You’ll feel something terrible in the morning.

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