Powder, to take a

Page 2 of 2 | Previous page

10 comments on this post.
  1. Steve Dunham:

    That sounds like “take a powder” might have meant “take a trip to the powder room” and “take a run-out powder” might have meant to take an especially hasty trip to the powder room. Gotta go!

  2. KarenK:

    Wisconsin is bordered by two Great Lakes; I’m sure they could get a sailing ship in there somehow.

  3. Dora MacPherson:

    I remember watching the old gangster movies with Lisbeth Scott. She would us the Phrase “he took a powder” with a straight face.

    I thought it meant that he was shot and killed.
    My logic was that some guns left a powder residue on the body.
    I was sure on the wrong track.
    So today I was thinking about it so I thought I would look it up.
    The powder room one is funnier yet.

  4. Linda B:

    You are all overthinking this expression. “Take a runout powder” means to excuse yourself to go to the powder room and then to quickly and secretly leave the building instead. Bette Davis said it to George Brent in the film, “Dark Victory.”

  5. Donna:

    The term, “Take a powder,” comes from the 1929’s and refers to taking a headache powder. The compressed pill form of an aspirin came later. The idiom developed from suggesting that a person “take a powder” and go lie down morphed into “take a powder and go away” then to just “go away.”

  6. Michael Izzo:

    I’m going to take a powder

  7. merle grall:

    I thought maybe it had to do with BC headache powder which is a very old product. It seems when I was young they used the phrase “take a powder” in their advertising so I thought maybe it just entered the language from that. Here’s one to ponder– where did the phrase “cut a chogie” come from? Haven’t heard that in many years.

  8. Darren E:

    I had to laugh when reading that a “mickey” or “Mickey Finn” was supposedly a ‘powerful laxative’! In the 20’s and 30’s the term Mickey Finn was similar (at least conceptually) with a “roofie”, “knock out drops” or a powerful sedative. The idea of slipping a powerful laxative into someone’s drink isn’t just funny, but also potentially pretty gross. I’ve seem old gangster movies that used a Mickey to overpower or disable a foe.
    The theory that the origin of “take a powder” stems from taking headache powder makes much more sense than the others listed. I have heard ‘take a powder’ in reference to skiing, but it was as part of an advertising campaign for a ski resort during the 80’s.

  9. Liz Ing:

    I have heard the phrase “taking a powder” used in every one of the scenarios referenced above:
    excusing one’s self to go to the ‘powder room’, being ragged on for falling while skiing, and referencing a defendant who failed to appear in court where ‘took a powder’ is akin to ‘on the lam’ (which goes back to an Old Norse verb that originally meant “to beat” as in “He beat it”). But the ‘Mickey Finn’ theory reminds me of another, more ancient use of the phrase.

    In Medieval China during the Six Dynasties and Tang Dynasty (3rd-10th century),
    Cold-Food Powder, or Five-Mineral Powder, was a powdered (duh) toxic medicine and hallucinogenic drug popularized by the literati and used by some nobility in the belief that it promoted greater mental awareness, and heightened aesthetic perceptivity. It was also believed to have aphrodisiac qualities that increased male sexual energy and enhanced physical stamina and reduced the male refractory period.

    The drug’s ingestion often caused skin sensitivity raised body temperature.

    “Xingsan” (??, lit. “walk powder”), meaning “walking after having taken a powder”, was how they described long walking excursions that were used as a specific therapeutic practice believed to circulate the poisonous inorganic drug, thereby enhancing its psychoactive effects and counteracting its feverish side-effects.

    Today, the use of physical activity to ameliorate the effect of drug or alcohol ingestion is still referred to as “walking it off”.

  10. Tim Bryant:

    I laughed at the idea of taking a runout powder too. A Mickey was the powerful sedative, as you described.

Leave a comment