Like most commonly used phrases, no one is sure exactly where “slap me silly” came from, but my amateur sleuthing has uncovered a few possibilities. One thing is for certain: it most likely originates from our linguistically creative cousins in the talkative Down South. I found a few articles about this which also included several other colorful southern-isms. But let’s stick with this one for now.
“Slap me silly” appears to be one of many variations of the more well-known “Slap my ass and call me Sally.” I don’t know who this Sally person is, but she must be into some BDSM! For giggles, here are a few more variations. The common theme among these is the grammatical structure of “[verb] my [body part] and call me [noun or proper noun].” The phrases are all used to express a reaction of surprise or astonishment. Below are a few of the more creative ones:
- Paint me green and call me a cucumber.
- Slap me with bread and call me a sandwich.
- Pin my tail and call me a donkey.
- Fry me in butter and call me a catfish.
- Saddle my back and call me a horse!
- Well knock me down and steal my teeth!
Some of these are decidedly more amusing than others, but you get the point. For more Southern-isms, check out this article, which will have you rolling, or at least scratching your head.
On a side note, I must also mention Mike Lange, who is an ice hockey play-by-play broadcaster for the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL. As an avid Chicago Blackhawks fan, the last thing I want to do is draw attention to the Penguins, but this guy also has some fun variations, from “Get in the fast lane, Grandma, the bingo game’s ready to roll!” to “Scratch my back with a hacksaw!” I stumbled upon Langeisms while searching for “slap me silly” (a phrase he also uses frequently), and there are plenty more of his fun phrases here.
I also happened upon a cool blog during my search that I’ve decided to follow: Strong Language (A Sweary Blog About Swearing).
Thanks for reading, and let me know if there are any other phrases you want to know more about. I am definitely not a professional at this whole etymology thing (but I’m smart enough to use a fancy word like etymology). And I like this stuff because I’m a huge word nerd.