Do those of you outside the States know the expression say uncle? It’s when you’ve got somebody in a lockhold and they won’t admit they’re beat. You demand say uncle! and eventually the poor bugger gives in and whimpers: uuuuuuncle.

And then you let him go.

You know those autographed pages of the Queen of Swords galley proofs? Well I’ve got about twenty still to send out, but I’ve also got a problem. Somehow my neat piles of postcard requests got messed up. I don’t know which requests I’ve already filled, and which I haven’t. Consequently I have two choices:

1. I could pretend I hadn’t sent any pages, and start from scratch. That way some people would get a second envelope from me.

2. I can cry uncle, and admit I’m stumped.

I’m going with the second option. So here’s the deal: If you are not in the States and you’ve already sent me a postcard requesting a signed galley proof page, and if you haven’t received one yet, please email me to say so. Then with your name in hand, I can find your postcard and send along your page. If you have received a page from me, please don’t email to say so. I just want to hear if you haven’t got one yet.


4 Replies to “uncle”

  1. I know the expression but have never heard anyone use it…where did it come from? Cos I’m thinking about it, and the word doesn’t really make sense to me in that context.

  2. No, I’d never heard the phrase ‘say uncle’. I’m in the UK. I looked up the Oxford English Dictionary and it says:

    4. to cry (holler, say, etc.) uncle, to acknowledge defeat, to cry for mercy. N. Amer. colloq.
    1918 Chicago Herald-Examiner 1 Oct. 11 Sic him Jenny Jinx{em}make him say ‘Uncle’. […] 1980 Amer. Speech 1976 LI. 281 Most American schoolboys are..familiar with the expression cry uncle or holler uncle, meaning ‘give up in a fight, ask for mercy’. Uncle in this expression is surely a folk etymology, and the Irish original of the word is anacol (anacal, anacul) ‘act of protecting; deliverance; mercy, quarter, safety’, a verbal noun from the Old Irish verb aingid ‘protects’… My unscientific sampling of English speakers in Britain a few years ago indicated that cry uncle is not familiar in England or Scotland.

    That derivation isn’t one given by the OED, though, just a quotation that they’ve included to show the usage of the phrase.

  3. Rosina – I am from outside the US and had sent you a postcard – with the crazy play referenced on the front re Death – my name is Andrea Clark and address is 2493 Sorrel Mews SW in Calgary Alberta Canada – postal code is T2T 6G5 and I have not received my page yet and would love one.


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