Real Talk: Take a Powder

“Hey, smart guy. Why don’t you take a powder and leave the adults alone?”

So why does “take a powder” mean to leave? No one knows! Yes, it’s going to be one of those entries in which I claim to answer a burning questions (for no one) but actually just shrug my shoulders and list a bunch of theories. Ladies’ choice!

Take a powder could come from the routine exclamation from doctors to patients—take a laxative powder for what ails you. Maybe! Or it could be a shortened version of, “I’m going to the powder room to powder my nose.”

In either case, it definitely originated in the 1920s and means to make a hurried—but discreet!—exit.

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One thought on “Real Talk: Take a Powder

  1. goneshooting says:

    take a powder in this country at least ….Australia , refers to bex powders …a cup of tea a bex and a good lie down being a cry of the 1940s housewife. It was discovered to be highly addictive thanks to the Phenacetinin it…. and caused kidney failure. It probably means different things else where…but in this tiny country……thats its meaning.( I am a massive fan of your blog by the way)…..

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