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What does natch mean?
February 23, 2005 1:42 PM   Subscribe

What does 'natch mean? Origins? Uses?

I've heard it is short for naturally but, where does this come from? How is it used? I've just heard it stuck to the end of statements.
posted by asterisk to Writing & Language (35 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Short for: "Naturally"

Means: "Of course!"
posted by goethean at 1:43 PM on February 23, 2005


I first remember it from Jay (of 'and Silent Bob) in _Clerks_.
posted by jmgorman at 1:44 PM on February 23, 2005


I just learned this last year. So, for all those people like me who have gone decades not knowing what that meant, your question and the resulting answers are revelatory. Good question!

Well, it's intentionally a very casual "of course!". I think it's usually used about personal decisions and preferences, but I could be wrong. It has the flavor of being slightly, humorously, self-deprecating to me.

I think it's made a comeback. It used to seem anachronistic to me—I associated it with the 40s and 50s.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:49 PM on February 23, 2005


It's short for 'naturally'.

Please don't use it. It sounds like 'snatch' or 'natcho'. Say what you mean.
posted by driveler at 1:55 PM on February 23, 2005


I use it because it sounds anachronistic, and therefore it is what I mean.
posted by kenko at 1:57 PM on February 23, 2005


etymology
posted by cardboard at 2:03 PM on February 23, 2005


It goes back to at least 1945, according to the Historical Dictionary of American Slang.
posted by Mo Nickels at 2:03 PM on February 23, 2005


I see it constantly on gawker and other gossipy, vapid blogs. It gets tossed around almost as much as "nee".
posted by naxosaxur at 2:03 PM on February 23, 2005


nee?
posted by scody at 2:04 PM on February 23, 2005


according to the online etymology dictionary, it dates back to the 40's. However said dictionary is short on supporting evidence, but I have always liked it for its slangy and old-timey feel, sort of like "cheezit, the cops!"
posted by jessamyn at 2:04 PM on February 23, 2005


At least 'nee' is an actual word.
posted by 4easypayments at 2:09 PM on February 23, 2005


Yeah, why the complaint about née? It's very useful. I sometimes use to describe myself because my named was changed with my marriage and then changed back when I divorced. A bunch of people know me as "McIntyre-Ellis".

And, um, as far as I'm concerned, natch is a word. But I'm mostly a descriptivist so I would so that.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:17 PM on February 23, 2005


When I'm feeling anachronistic, I use "peachy!", "keen!", "toodle-oo!", and "poopstains."

Not that the latter anachronistic, it's just fun to use.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:19 PM on February 23, 2005


You can find evidence of "natch" used in 1940s Archie comics. It's one of Jughead's favorite words.
posted by Miko at 2:31 PM on February 23, 2005


I don't know why, but I associate "natch" with the 50's Peanuts cartoons.

I say "nifty" sometimes to feel anachronistic, or just to be annoying, "groovy".
posted by matildaben at 2:34 PM on February 23, 2005


jessamyn: "according to the online etymology dictionary, it dates back to the 40's. However said dictionary is short on supporting evidence..."

I know that not everybody has an oxford english dictionary account, so here's their entry, which, though short, has the evidence that that article seems to be based on:

Naturally; of course. Chiefly as sentence adverb. (The part of speech ‘adj.’ given in quot. 1945 is probably an error.)

1945 L. SHELLY Hepcats Jive Talk Dict., Natch adj., naturally. 1946 Sun (Baltimore) 24 Sept. 3/3 (advt.) Natch! Mom's gettin' both of us Hen self-starters... Baltimore's most popular ‘first shoes for babies’. 1970 Daily Tel. 3 July (Colour Suppl.) 5/2 A crowd of opulent-looking masochists..were actually savouring this culinary surrealism and, natch, paying through the nose for it. 2000 J. GOODWIN Danny Boy x. 231 Natch, they were gagging to find out what had gone off with Gibbsey and co.


Of course, for myself, I got used to the word through the greatest comic strip of all time, Pogo, which also has a lot of other old slang, southern and otherwise.

...and "nee" isn't anachronistic, it's just French. Guess people just knew French better back in the day...
posted by koeselitz at 2:39 PM on February 23, 2005


That mention of "hepcats jive talk dictionary" points to a likely 1930s origin. Dictionaries (even the OED) are notorious for being slow to adopt definitions of slang words, which might be a flash in the pan. Since most jive slang was coined in the 30s, I'd expect "natch" was too, and just didn't get cited 'til later.
posted by Miko at 2:42 PM on February 23, 2005


I think Pinky (of Pinky and the Brain) used to say it occasionally.
posted by knave at 2:56 PM on February 23, 2005


I've always associated "natch" with Connecticut, because the only two people I knew who used it regularly were from there (and didn't know each other). Never once heard it used down South. And, never before this thread have I seen it anywhere other than at the end of a sentence preceded by a comma.

Oh, and I just figured out what the hell it meant last year as well.
posted by socratic at 3:05 PM on February 23, 2005


Item! I grew up with the word 'natch. Stan Lee, et. al. used it all the time in the letters columns and editorial pages of various Marvel Comics throughout the 1970s. It was part of their strange specialized vocabulary which included words like excelsior and no-prize.
posted by jdroth at 3:11 PM on February 23, 2005


excelsior

I got this from my grandfather, who'd always holler, "onwards, upwards, excelsior!" when we were in the middle of one of his fun-but-insane projects (like building Rube Goldberg mechanisms all over the house). But I was the one reading comics in the '70s, not him...
posted by scody at 3:14 PM on February 23, 2005


Ditto jdroth, with the added suspicion that Marvel Comics' use of "natch" is largely responsible for its continued presence in pop culture today. Just a hunch, though.
posted by mediareport at 3:34 PM on February 23, 2005


My first time seeing it was when I was about 8 or 9 -- it was in an old Garfield book (Lyman days, so sometime around 1980, the year of my birth). It took me another ten years before I realized what it meant. If I remember correctly, Jon was at the beach and made some comment to a woman about how she must "go back to her thatched hut at night" and she responded "Actually, I'm a computer programmer from Cleveland". Garfield's (mental) response was "natch" -- which was a bit difficult to to divine the meaning from. I haven't read or enjoyed Garfield in years, but some of the comics will be stuck in my brain forever.
posted by afiler at 4:01 PM on February 23, 2005


I also figured out what natch meant within the last year (by looking it up in the dictionary). I wonder what it is that has caused so many people to look it up within the last year.

And whatever happened to Lyman, anyway? I guess that deserves its own question.
posted by grouse at 4:07 PM on February 23, 2005


This is so wierd. I never knew what it meant, either, so thanks for asking the question asterisk!

I've never heard it uttered aloud. I encountered it regularly in print when reading Smash Hits throughout my misspent 80s adolescence. It never occured to me that it meant anything at all, and I took it for some wierd British slang that had no American equivalent.

But, of course ... natch ... naturally ... it makes so much sense.

I'm not ever going to freaking say it out loud, though.
posted by contessa at 4:16 PM on February 23, 2005


Doris Dowling says it in The Lost Weekend, with some discussion of it being abbreviation (she says some other shortened word, like "Teriff!" and the Ray Milland character, a writer, complains about it) which is form 1945. If it's a Hollywood movie, it was probably mainstream enough that it was around way before that.

It's one of my top antiquated slang words.
posted by SoftRain at 5:05 PM on February 23, 2005


Since the question has been answered, I would like to share my new favorite anachronistic slang: filthington. It's from Muriel Spark's Girls of Slender Means. I am currently investigating which other words are improved by the -ington suffix.
posted by dame at 6:47 PM on February 23, 2005


Item! I grew up with the word 'natch. Stan Lee, et. al. used it all the time in the letters columns and editorial pages of various Marvel Comics throughout the 1970s. It was part of their strange specialized vocabulary which included words like excelsior and no-prize.

Yeah, I was going to offer that the first time I remember seeing the word, it was coming out of Spider-Man's mouth, perhaps in the late 1970s.
posted by ChrisTN at 7:30 PM on February 23, 2005


I didn't know there were so many anachronistic-slang fans around. I'm one too. Keep 'em comin'.
posted by Miko at 7:45 PM on February 23, 2005


Spidey alone explains why it surface in a Kevin Smith film.
posted by Miko at 7:54 PM on February 23, 2005


Thanks for the answers everyone! My googling wasn't getting anywhere and I thought it had come out of a movie or something... I felt my pop culture cred had taken a dive. Thanks for setting the record straight.
posted by asterisk at 7:55 PM on February 23, 2005


The Phrase Finder might float a few boats here.

P.S. scody, your gramps is the most!
posted by vetiver at 8:20 PM on February 23, 2005


I also got it from Kelly's Pogo. Friends tell me I use it in everyday speech. I am unaware of doing so, although I use it in casual written communication frequently.
posted by mwhybark at 10:01 PM on February 23, 2005


I have seen this printed, like contessa, never heard it uttered. I figured it must be from some regional dialect (I am from Wisconsin) and not have any particular meaning. Had I not read this, who knows how long I would have gone on not knowing the true meaning of natch? Thanks!
posted by recursive at 12:42 PM on February 24, 2005


How strange. I've been (accurately?) using the word for years with only a non-verbal sense of what it meant. Having it defined makes it feel very new and strange.

Also: Dame, you are my hero for today.
posted by catachresoid at 4:24 PM on February 25, 2005


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