" referred to a bump
or a dip
in the road that jostle
d the riders in a carriage
or later, a car
. The more common explanation for the name is that the roughness made passenger
as if they were acknowledging a favor
, although a minority of etymologies claim that it derives from male and female passengers being thrown together during the bump and having a chance for a fleeting touch
or steal a kiss
. Other explanation
s offered by readers of the A.Word.A.Day
mailing list included the jostle's resemblance to the pain of being spank
ed by a female teacher, who required thanks for the discipline
, and the resemblance of the jostling to a rabbit
bouncing through mating: "Wham, bam, thank you ma'am!
" However, the Oxford English Dictionary
and every other dictionary
I can find prefers the first explanation.
The OED citations range from 1849 to 1897, but Franklin D. Roosevelt used the expression in a speech discussing pitfalls on the road to recovery from the Great Depression, and in baseball, the phrase has sometimes meant "a weak ground ball hit back to the pitcher for an easy out."