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155 "in like Flynn" (Phrase origins - alt.usage.english)




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This article is from the alt.usage.english FAQ, by Mark Israel misrael@scripps.edu with numerous contributions by others.

155 "in like Flynn" (Phrase origins - alt.usage.english)


This phrase's first meaning was "in favour, assured of success,
in an enviable position". Some writers allege that it originated
in allusion to Edward Joseph "Boss" Flynn (1892-1953), a campaign
manager for the U.S. Democratic party during Franklin Delano
Roosevelt's presidency. Flynn's machine was so successful at
winning elections that his candidates seemed to be in office
automatically.

But the phrase was popularized with reference to Australian-born
Hollywood actor Errol Flynn (1909-59), whose amorous exploits gave
it a second meaning: "being a quick seducer". The earliest
citation we have seen does refer to Errol Flynn (but not to
seduction): ""In like Flynn." Everything is O.K. In other words,
the pilot is having no more trouble than Errol Flynn has in his
cinematic feats." (1945 in "American Speech" Dec. 1946, 310)

The phrase "In Like Flint" has also been heard: it was the title
of a 1967 movie, a sequel to "Our Man Flint" (1965). Both films
were spy spoofs starring James Coburn. The 1967 title was, of
course, wordplay on "in like Flynn" and the character name "Flint".

 

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