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Welcome to the four hundred and sixty-third in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and sixty-two. This week, did Stan Lee really coin the phrase “Nuff’ Said”? What single Uncanny X-Men page drive John Byrne to quit drawing the title? Finally, was Larry Hama forced to add words to a silent issue of Wolverine?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Stan Lee coined the phrase “Nuff’ Said!”
Do you know how there are certain jokes and/or cultural references that just do not stand the test of time? Hell, I do a whole column here about those sort of references (and explaining them when they show up in old comic books). I am reminded of this when dealing with the idea of whether Stan Lee coined the term “Nuff’ Said”
Stan Lee, longtime Marvel Editor-in-Chief and co-creator of many of the most famous characters in the history of comics (like Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Hulk, X-Men, Fancy Dan, Iron Man and Thor) is himself likely the most famous comic book creator alive today.
Lee is known for his charisma and his catch phrases, including his most famous one, “Exclesior!” However, another famous phrase he uses a lot is “Nuff’ said.” Here it is in an ad for a Stan Lee cologne, even!
It has become so famous that Lee himself is often credited as coining the term. My pal Duy Tano asked me on Twitter the other day if Lee actually DID coin the term.
As it turns out, he did not. He clearly has popularized the phrase in our time (although, to be fair, other people WERE using the phrase in the 1960s, as well. Nina Simone even named one of her late 1960s albums Nuff Said and I doubt she was referencing Marvel Comics of the time) but the origins of the term go waaaay back to a series of jokes that are now so old that no one remembers them beyond etymologists.
You see, for a while in the 1830s in the Northeast, a popular joke was to use acronyms for long phrases. You see it all the time to this day with stuff like ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) or ROFLMAO (Rolling on the floor laughing my ass off).
However, the trend went to absurd degrees when people began using acronyms for MISSPELLED words as a joke. So, for instance, KG for “Know Go.”
One of these popular misspellings was, of course, Nuff’ Said (occasionally even more mangled as Nuff’ Ced). One popular acronym was NSMJ (“Nuff’ Said ‘Mong Jintlemen”).
So no, the phrase/term was a popular one for over a century before Lee began using it. It just wasn’t all THAT popular, as the term did not exactly catch on. So Lee definitely popularized it.
Amusingly enough, one of those misspelled acronyms DID catch on. “Oll Korrect,” which became the famous “OK” was adopted as a slogan for then U.S. Presidential candidate Martin Van Buren in the US Presdiential Campaign of 1840 (he was nicknamed “Old Kinderhook,” so his supporters would use OK for THAT). It is amusing to see a fad become SO popular that the term is now just part of our everyday language.
Thanks to Allen Walker Read for his tireless research into determining the origins of the term “OK,” which has been shrouded in myths and mystery for over a century now, but Read’s explanation has now pretty much been accepted as fact. And thanks to Duy for the question!
Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Did the producers of How I Met Your Mother have more than one “back-up” mother before the actual mother was revealed?
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