Beat the Band

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9 comments on this post.
  1. David Evans:

    I found a 1854 use of the phrase “to beat the band” in The Yale Literary Magazine

  2. Haymoon:

    I have heard an addition to the phrase “to beat Banagher” – in Ireland – “Well that beat Banagher, and Banagher beat the devil”
    Incidentally the town of Banagher which is supposedly the origin of the phrase is in County Offaly in the Irish midlands. There is another Banagher in County Derry in the north of the country

  3. Anonymous:

    Saw it in the Great Gatsby. After Myrtle found out that Wilson had borrowed a suit for their wedding she claimed to have “lay down and cried to beat the band all afternoon”.

  4. MW:

    This reference appears to be from 1954, not 1854.

  5. Kathy:

    Interesting and well researched. Now, however, I am curious about the origins of “likety split!”

  6. DMc:

    Are you sure it’s not “to beat” in a chronological sense? i.e. “to beat the band” means that you are working furiously so as to complete your task before the band starts playing?

  7. Dave:

    I always think of “beating the band” as doing something with great vigor and frequency as a conductor beating time to establish tempo for the band.

  8. Karen Herman:

    I think the expression has been around a long time since I’m 68 years old and have heard it all my life. Usually as “it’s raining to beat the band” or “it’s snowing to beat the band”.

  9. Humbler Acts:

    If people once thought of a band as something real special–only heard when something unusual comes–a parade,say… Well… then the phrase could mean that whatever one does is better than that special band.

    And further: the bandstand would be where that special
    band does its thing. In days before radio and tv, we’re probably talking about something quite exciting.

    “Beating the band” would mean greater than that great band.

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