Chris Bruce writes|
I've just looked up 'pratfall' in my dictionary and it gives no etymology, stating merely that a pratfall is "a fall onto one's buttocks ." This, I suppose, brings us back to 'Pratt's Bottom'. Anyone know the etymology of 'pratfall'?prat
OED Third edition, March 2007; online version March 2001
orig. Theatre. A comedy fall; a fall on to the buttocks.
1939 N. Coward Words & Music in Play Parade II. 108 Don't do a pratfall in your first routine.
1941 L. Rosten Hollywood 316 The Hollywood writers—graduates of the westerns‥masters of the chase, the ‘pratt-fall’‥—kept the movies moving.
1952 ‘E. Box’ Death in Fifth Position (1954) ii. 47 Some homicidal maniac‥who enjoyed seeing ballerinas take fatal pratfalls.
1961 Guardian 27 Apr. 9/4 A more intelligent form of humour—away from the pratfall type of thing.
1990 Premiere June 57/3 A guy‥dropped a supersize Coke onto the already slick floor, then did a pratfall, landing on his tailbone.
2000 Times 7 Aug. ii. 13/4 Mullarkey's comic talent lies in the contrast between his demure and dapper image and his unerring ability for inelegant pratfalls.
2. fig. and in extended use. A fall that causes humiliation; an embarrassing failure or mistake.
1941 Time Mag. 18 Aug. 14/2 In one skirmish after another they routed the Lewis-Addes side. By week's end it was plain that Mr. Lewis was taking a pratfall.
1953 R. Bradbury Fahrenheit 451 (1954) i. 56 Life becomes one big pratfall.
1971 Guardian 25 Nov. 17/2 Performers who write their own material often take enormous pratfalls.
1977 Rolling Stone 7 Apr. 43/1 Why has an important investigation so quickly degenerated into a series of pratfalls?
1995 Private Eye 27 Jan. 6/1 John Major, having clumsily careered into every political obstacle in his path so far might now be blundering towards the biggest pratfall of them all: a premature general election.
2000 W. Self How Dead Live (2001) 15 A nation who've always been convulsed by the world's pratfall, when it was they who yanked away the chair.
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