I was just watching the preview for Blue Velvet (1986) and heard Kyle McLachlan use the phrase: “That’s for me to recognize, and also you to find out”.

I assume the expression is probably older than that movie, yet I can’t uncover anypoint on the internet saying when and also wright here it originated.



Early Elephind newspaper database matches for the phrase

An Elephind newspaper database search turns up one stray circumstances of the expression from 1866 and one circumstances that appeared in four different newsfiles from July via November 1895. Here are the salso earliest distinctive matches, in chronological order.

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From "The Killing of John Counts, Alias Dawkins, a Freedguy," in the Daily Phoenix (August 9, 1866):

On Sunday morning, a little freedguy, residing at Mr. John A. Smith"s, some three miles over the city, told him that two colored men had actually met him, near the branch, (which i but a short distance from Mr. Smith"s residence,) and asked him to present them the nearemainder way to the Charlotte railroad, which he did. One of them had actually a bag of money, and offered him twenty-five cents in silver for his trouble. The other had actually 2 pistols. The little fellow asked the male where be got so a lot money. He replied: "That is for me to understand and you to find out." He proved them on, through the salt-petre farm, and then reverted home and provided the indevelopment.

From W.J. Lampton,"A Mountain Courtship: Just How Susan Stebbins Was Won by the Homliest Man on the Lick," in the Indianapolis News (July 5, 1895), reprinted from the New York Sun:

""I s"pose," says I, "that you do not keer ef I sheight and also talk to you fer a minute, execute you?""

""I ain"t keerin" what you execute," claims she, kinder sullen.

""You look prefer you wuz expectin" somebody yourself," states I, feelin" ez ef I"d favor to choke whoever the feller wuz.

""That"s what," states she, and also I felt more"n ever before like chokin" somebody.

""Who is it?" states I, watchin" the streaks uv a laugh "round her mouth and eyes.

""That"s fer me to understand and you to uncover out," says she, laughin" best out.

This very same story (under the title "A Mountain Idyl") additionally ran in newspapers in Princeton, Minnesota (October 3, 1895), Des Moines, Iowa (October 11, 1895), and Grand also Marais, Minnesota (November 9, 1895).

From W.T. Burrows, "Was Out of Balance," in the St. Landry Clarion (August 4, 1900):

"I say, Fred, come below and also view what I have actually fallen heir to." This as the first point that greeted his ears on the morning after the fight via the cash balance, and also as he adhered to his wife into the parlor of their house he was amazed to view on the parlor floor a beautiful rug that had not been tright here the day prior to.

"Why, wright here did you obtain this, my dear?" he asked.

"That, sir, is for me to recognize and you to discover out," she answered, with a mischievous twinkle of her eyes.

From Bide Dudley, "Real News About Real People," in the Evening World (April 7, 1921):

Hob Jackson, a father, stuck his head into the parlor of his mansion on Key Street, his feet remaining in the hall.

"Ellie!" he dubbed to his beautiful daughter.

"Oh, what the adversary do you want?" he replied sweetly.

"Are the Count in thar7"

"That"s for me to recognize and you to discover out."

Bang! The door slammed, yet trouble was in the air.

And from Max Shulman, "On Campus via Max Shulmale," in the Thresher (March 25, 1955):

Dr. Willard Hale Sigafoos, head of the department of anthropology at Southern Reserve University and globally recognized as an authority on primitive peoples, changed yesterday from a 4 year scientific expedition to the headwaters of the Amazon River. Among the many exciting mementos of his journey is his own head, shrunk to the size of a kumquat. He refsupplied to disclose how his head shrinking was achieved. "That"s for me to know and you to discover out," he shelp via a tiny, however saucy grin.

Early Google Books database matches for the phrase

The earliest Google Books match for the expression is from an undetermined story in Godey"s Magazine (1881) :

"You might trust me, sir. I recognize the police are after him through a sharp stick ; however I"ll throw them off the scent if you give the word, and also ago it up via a pile of the shiners."

"How will you achieve it?" wondered about Breysdel, doubtingly.

"That"s for me to recognize, and also you to uncover out, your honor; but I understand some of the dodges of the genattempt, I perform. What"ll you give?"

"Five of the coins, besides those already promised you for the rerotate of the kid."

From unestablished court testimony in Documents (1883) :

Q. Wright here were you from the 15th of July, 1880, to the time you saw Danvers? A. Attending to my company.

Q. Where? A. In various areas.

Q. Name one? A. Well, Lynnarea.

Q. Any other? A. Yes, wherever before I chose to go.

Q. Wright here did you choose to go? A. That is for me to know, and for you to discover out.

And from an unidentified story in Munsey"s Magazine (1921) :

"You asked me a small while back if I was in this city at the hour as soon as the crime was committed. I answered that it was for me to understand and for you to uncover out. I"ll answer direct currently, simply to soptimal this absurd suspicion which has actually been directed against me: I was not in the city at that hour, or within 6 hours of midnight. I remained in Nashville."


All of the examples cited above—which range in publication year from 1866 to 1955—use the phrase "that"s for me to understand and you to uncover out" (or a cshed variant) in an extremely contemporary way—as a snappy retort to someone who is being inas necessary nosy or who is simply being naturally curious but whose question has motivated a dismissive or teasing response from the speaker.

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All of the nineteenth-century instances seem to be from the USA, which gives at leastern a circumstantial case for its having actually a UNITED STATE origin. The 1866 circumstances is attributed to a black speaker, but the succeeding instances show no indications of including African-American speakers.