"Laugh? I nearly died....!"

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  • Ericthelobster
    started a topic "Laugh? I nearly died....!"

    "Laugh? I nearly died....!"

    I've been known to use the above expression on occasions, usually with the intent, when asked if something was amusing, of sarcastically conveying a negative response.

    My kids seem to have picked up on this; they think it's a very weird Dad-ism and now say it to me all the time which is of course hilariously funny.

    Anyway - just wondering, does anyone happen to know where the expression actually comes from? I got to wondering whether maybe I'd invented it myself, but since the phrase has managed to accrue 195,000 hits on Google (many courtesy of its apparent use as the title of a Rolling Stones track) I'm inclined to think not.

    I expect the answer is probably that it was a catchphrase from someone like Jimmy Clitheroe or Arthur Askey...

  • glenn
    replied
    Does it not just mean that you laughed so much that you couldn't draw breath - and so nearly died?

    Bit like 'split your sides laughing' i.e. laughed so much as did yourself damage rather than the good that a laugh is supposed to benefit you with.

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  • jeffrey
    replied
    Originally posted by mind the gap View Post
    I have heard it - no idea of its origin - but I assumed it meant you did laugh, not the opposite! (As in 'I nearly died laughing').

    People do sometimes die from laughing, you know.
    The original quotation might have arisen due to nitrous oxide's efects and unreliability when first introduced as an anaesthetic.

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  • Poppy
    replied
    Tickle torture.

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  • mind the gap
    replied
    I have heard it - no idea of its origin - but I assumed it meant you did laugh, not the opposite! (As in 'I nearly died laughing').

    People do sometimes die from laughing, you know.

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  • jeffrey
    replied
    No, I don't know, but it might also have been one of those phrases that mysteriously and imperceptibly mutates.
    Example (also about laughing):
    Liberace was asked if being vilified in public (as an undisclosed homosexual) had upset him. What he said was that he cried- all the way to the bank! [meaning that the publicity, albeit unewelcome, was financially beneficial]. He did not say that he 'laughed' all the way to the bank, yet that meaninglessness is how many people recall the phrase.

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