Take off that broccoli!

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From Stephen Dodson:

It took me a minute to parse this headline correctly: 
Bill Pennington, "‘Like Putting on Broccoli,’ or Cauliflower, and Results Are Bumpy", NYT 6/20/2015.



  1. richardelguru said,

    June 21, 2015 @ 11:45 am

    Or putting on the Ritz?
    That would be even harder.

  2. yastreblyansky said,

    June 21, 2015 @ 12:46 pm

    Or putting on my top hat. Was Irving Berlin a golfer? I couldn't parse it even as I was looking at the picture of Rory McIlroy making the putt in question, but had to read the first couple of paragraphs more than twice.

  3. Ken Miner said,

    June 21, 2015 @ 1:30 pm

    There was a late Victorian expression, "putting on side", which occurred so often in the books of P. G. Wodehouse that it bothered me that I didn't know how to parse it. The meaning was roughly "giving oneself airs". Finally in one of his stories someone said "Side. He doesn't put it on." Then I knew finally that "side" was the nominal object of "put on".

    This use of "side" is according to the OED "of doubtful origin".

  4. Lazar said,

    June 21, 2015 @ 1:30 pm

    In the words of a Japanese t-shirt, "I put on cat".

  5. Viseguy said,

    June 21, 2015 @ 3:44 pm

    If I were king I'd decree that "putt-ing" had to be hyphenated. But then I agree with Hercule Poirot, who said that "playing the good golf is no reason not to commit suicide."

  6. georgeW said,

    June 21, 2015 @ 6:01 pm

    "If I were king I'd decree that "putt-ing" had to be hyphenated."

    Then a wayward putt could be both off putt-ing and off putting.

  7. Thor Lawrence said,

    June 21, 2015 @ 6:21 pm

    I took "putting" to be from "to put". As a botanist, broccoli is a species. As soon as someone alluded to golf I could see the allusion, but even so, what form of broccoli? And as for cauliflower, what type is being referred to? Ones background influences ones perception.

  8. J. F. said,

    June 21, 2015 @ 7:44 pm

    I heard about that movie. It's the scene where Bette Davis sees the lady putting on broccoli, and says: "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!"

  9. AntC said,

    June 21, 2015 @ 7:54 pm

    @Ken Miner Never mind late Victorian expression, there's a contemporary Yorkshire expression "There's no side to 'im". [It could be wider than Yorkshire, but that's where I've heard it, in several Ridings.] side has a particularly broad and long stress. Yes, it has exactly that sense of "putting on airs".

  10. John Swindle said,

    June 21, 2015 @ 9:09 pm

    I thought they were putting broccoli, or cauliflower, on a pizza or some other comestible. That seemed reasonable, and the results could indeed be sort of bumpy, depending on how the broccoli, or cauliflower, was chopped.

  11. Ray said,

    June 21, 2015 @ 11:57 pm

    without reading the article or the comments, I assumed 'like putting on brocolli' was the name of some new broadway show that just opened, and that it was so bad it was as if the performers had (ha ha) put on cauliflower instead and couldn't hear how bad it was (what with their cauliflower ears), and so naturally everyone had a bumpy night. :-)

  12. Ken Miner said,

    June 22, 2015 @ 6:56 am

    @AntC Very interesting. The Ngram viewer shows "putting on side" from about 1869, peaking about 1922, and presently declining in British English. The pattern for American English is very similar except that it starts later. Wish I could think of a way to check your expression; it's too long for an Ngram as it stands.

  13. KeithB said,

    June 22, 2015 @ 8:40 am

    Could be a reference to the now "Inside-Out" movie. Broccoli plays a large part – specifically putting broccoli on Pizza: "Thanks, San Francisco, you have officially ruined pizza. First the Hawaiians…"

  14. GH said,

    June 22, 2015 @ 3:41 pm

    @Ken Miner: Try this.

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