Etymology of the term 'lunch out', ie 'freak out'?
January 9, 2008 10:24 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone tell me the etymology of the term "lunch out," meaning 'to freak out'?

I first heard this term sometime during the '90s. I can't remember where. According to Urban Dictionary, "lunch out" is "a verb meaning to freak out or to get scared. Usually caused by getting really high, or experiencing something extremly random, surprising, or funny. Also related to tripping." Is this a surfer term or something? What's up with it? Where might I have heard it first?
posted by toomuchkatherine to Writing & Language (8 answers total)
"out to lunch" + "freak out"?
posted by Pinback at 10:34 PM on January 9, 2008

Urban Dictionary is my source on such words/phrases. Three possibles are listed.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:41 AM on January 10, 2008

Similarly to definition 3 in Carol Anne's link 'Lunch out' is used as a verb to mean 'copped out' or 'couldn't be bothered' in the UK (and maybe elsewhere). Usually shortened to 'lunched'.

e.g. 'Don was going to come tonight but he lunched it.'
posted by i_cola at 6:05 AM on January 10, 2008

Urban Dictionary is my source on such words/phrases. Three possibles are listed.

1) Urban Dictionary is enjoyable, but it should not be taken seriously, and certainly not used as a source of information. Anybody can and does post whatever they want, and unless you have a more authoritative source as backup you have no way of distinguishing truth from joking around.

2) The poster is asking about etymology, and UD says not a word about it. Which is a good thing, since anything they said would be a wild-ass guess.

Unfortunately, it's hard to find good etymologies of slang terms. I'd say Pinback's suggestion that it's based on out to lunch is a good one, but research would be needed to determine where and when it started being used.
posted by languagehat at 6:53 AM on January 10, 2008

According to the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang it comes from "out to lunch." But, the Google snippet view doesn't include the whole entry, just a tiny snippet. I could make out that it goes back at least to 1958.
posted by Kattullus at 7:28 AM on January 10, 2008

I have always understood the term as a backformation from 'out to lunch', at least this is the standard understanding in the UK as per i cola (its also used as a noun). That puts it as least as early as the mid 80's where it was prevalent in the, er, drugs subculture.

The OED* doesn't list it at all but it lists 'out to lunch' with the earliest citation dating to 1955 (Sci. Digest Aug. 33/1 ‘Out to lunch’ refers to someone who, in other years, just wasn't ‘there’ and he is told immediately to ‘Get with it!’).

(* free online access with your library membership UK mefites).
posted by tallus at 8:45 AM on January 10, 2008

Back around 1989 in Washington, D.C., a young woman was accused of murder. Her street name was Lunchin' Lisa, but the Washington Post erroneously (and hilariously) referred to her as Luncheon Lisa.

Oh, sorry, I don't know the answer to your question.
posted by Enroute at 9:41 AM on January 10, 2008

I've only heard 'lunch out' used to refer to a drug experience in which a person appears to become completely divorced from the reality imposed by his or her surroundings (like with DMT, which is occasionally referred to as "businessman's lunch.")
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:36 AM on January 10, 2008

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