direction on mail that it be held at that post office until called for, French, literally "remaining post." Hence, place in a post office where letters so addressed are kept until the recipients call for them.
People are apt to sneeze, in hot weather for example; and people do not die of sneezing now-a-days, as they did in days that no one knows any thing about. We cannot give six draughts a-day, at one and nine pence each, for sneezing: call it the hay-fever. What a wonderful man! what a clever man! he understands the hay-fever: call him in! Thus is the hay-fever among the last in the list of fashionables. ["On Fashions in Physic," London Magazine, October 1825]
"human being eaten as food," by 1848, in stories from the Fiji Islands, said to be a literal rendering of a local term, in one version puaka balava.
Bau literally stank for many days, human flesh having been cooked in every house, and the entrails thrown outside as food for pigs, or left to putrefy in the sun. The Somosomo people were fed with human flesh during their stay at Bau, they being on a visit at that time; and some of the Chiefs of other towns, when bringing their food, carried a cooked human being on one shoulder, and a pig on the other; but they always preferred the "long pig," as they call a man when baked. ["FEEJEE.—Extract of a Letter from the Rev. John Watsford, dated Ono, October 6th, 1846." in "Wesleyan Missionary Notices," Sept. 1847]
1707 as a direct phrase, but implied much earlier, and Old Norse had bikkju-sonr. Abbreviated form SOB from 1918; form sumbitch attested in writing by 1969.
Abide þou þef malicious!
Biche-sone þou drawest amis
þou schalt abigge it ywis!
["Of Arthour & of Merlin," c. 1330]
"Probably the most common American vulgarity from about the middle of the eighteenth century to the middle of the twentieth" [Rawson].
Our maid-of-all-work in that department [indecency] is son-of-a-bitch, which seems as pale and ineffectual to a Slav or a Latin as fudge does to us. There is simply no lift in it, no shock, no sis-boom-ah. The dumbest policeman in Palermo thinks of a dozen better ones between breakfast and the noon whistle. [H.L. Mencken, "The American Language," 4th ed., 1936, p.317-8]
Elsewhere, complaining of the tepidity of the American vocabulary of profanity, Mencken writes that the toned-down form son-of-a-gun "is so lacking in punch that the Italians among us have borrowed it as a satirical name for an American: la sanemagogna is what they call him, and by it they indicate their contempt for his backwardness in the art that is one of their great glories."
It was in 1934 also that the New York Daily News, with commendable frankness, in reporting a hearing in Washington at which Senator Huey P. Long featured, forsook the old-time dashes and abbreviations and printed the complete epithet "son of a bitch." [Stanley Walker, "City Editor," 1934]