X me no Xs

The earliest citation is c. 1595, per David Crystal in Words Words Words. Wikiquote provides a relatively long list of instances of this one in literature. X may be a word that can act as both noun and verb, as in Fielding’s “Petition me no petitions,” but may also be just a noun, as in Tennyson’s “Diamond me no diamonds!” The structure is apparently a strong enough–and iambic enough–idiom to appear multiple times in Henry Fielding’s and William Shakespeare’s works. Modern usage seems fairly tongue-in-cheek. X appears as daunt and quiesce. Most often, modern variants on this snowclone are actually quoting the older variants. I might even say that this is no longer a snowclone by the “strong” definition of the word (i.e., significant modern variation on the structure) because of the lack of variants on X.

Arnold Zwicky lists this in his “Unblogged Snowclones” Language Log post as “X me no Ys,” but snowclone-y variants with two variables are much less common (and/or difficult to track down).

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3 responses to “X me no Xs

  1. It seems that the song “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” from Fiddler on the Roof contains a passel of examples of this snowclone: groom me no groom, find me no find, catch me no catch…

  2. I think “X me no Ys” form comes from the old saying: “Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies.” Bartlett’s attributes this to Oliver Goldsmith in “She Stoops To Conquer,” 18th century, although they cite “fibs” in place of “lies.”

  3. I’m with Jim on this one.

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