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

I assume the phrase is probably older than that movie, yet I can’t find anything on the internet saying as soon as and wbelow it originated.



Early Elephind newspaper database matches for the phrase

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

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

On Sunday morning, a little freedguy, residing at Mr. John A. Smith"s, some three miles above the city, told him that 2 colored guys had met him, near the branch, (which i however a brief distance from Mr. Smith"s residence,) and asked him to show them the nearemainder method to the Charlotte railroad, which he did. One of them had a bag of money, and offered him twenty-5 cents in silver for his trouble. The other had 2 pistols. The little bit fellow asked the male wbelow be gained so a lot money. He replied: "That is for me to understand and also you to uncover out." He showed them on, through the salt-petre farm, and also then reverted home and also provided the information.

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," states I, "that you do not keer ef I soptimal and talk to you fer a minute, carry out you?""

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

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

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

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

""That"s fer me to recognize and also you to find out," claims she, laughin" right out.

This same story (under the title "A Mountain Idyl") also ran in newsfiles in Princeton, Minnesota (October 3, 1895), Des Moines, Iowa (October 11, 1895), and Grand 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 watch what I have fallen heir to." This as the initially thing that greeted his ears on the morning after the fight through the cash balance, and also as he followed his wife into the parlor of their residence he was amazed to see on the parlor floor a beautiful rug that had actually not been tbelow the day before.

"Why, where did you get this, my dear?" he asked.

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

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

Hob Jackboy, a father, stuck his head right into the parlor of his mansion on Main Street, his feet remaining in the hall.

"Ellie!" he called to his beautiful daughter.

"Oh, what the adversary execute you want?" he responded sweetly.

"Are the Count in thar7"

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

Bang! The door slammed, however trouble remained in the air.

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

Dr. Willard Hale Sigafoos, head of the department of anthropology at Southern Reserve University and also globally well-known as an authority on primitive individuals, changed yesterday from a four year clinical exploration to the headwaters of the Amazon River. Among the many amazing mementos of his journey is his own head, shrunk to the dimension of a kumquat. He refprovided to reveal just how his head shrinking was accomplished. "That"s for me to recognize and you to discover out," he shelp with a tiny, but saucy grin.

Early Google Books database matches for the phrase

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

"You may trust me, sir. I know the police are after him with a sharp stick ; however I"ll throw them off the scent if you offer the word, and earlier it up via a pile of the shiners."

"How will certainly you attain it?" questioned Breysdel, doubtingly.

"That"s for me to know, and also you to find out, your honor; but I know some of the dodges of the genattempt, I do. What"ll you give?"

"Five of the coins, besides those already promised you for the return of the son."

From undetermined court testimony in Documents (1883) :

Q. Where were you from the 15th of July, 1880, to the moment you went to Danvers? A. Attending to my organization.

Q. Where? A. In different areas.

Q. Name one? A. Well, Lynnarea.

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

Q. Where did you select to go? A. That is for me to recognize, and also for you to find out.

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

"You asked me a tiny while back if I remained in this city at the hour once the crime was committed. I answered that it was for me to recognize and for you to uncover out. I"ll answer straight now, simply to sheight this absurd suspicion which has 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 variety in publication year from 1866 to 1955—use the phrase "that"s for me to recognize and also you to find out" (or a close variant) in a really modern way—as a snappy retort to someone that is being inas necessary nosy or who is ssuggest being naturally curious but whose question has actually motivated a dismissive or teasing response from the speaker.

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All of the nineteenth-century instances seem to be from the United States, which offers at leastern a circumstantial case for its having a UNITED STATE beginning. The 1866 circumstances is attributed to a babsence speaker, however the succeeding instances show no signs of including African-American speakers.