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The Free Dictionary Language wtbblue.coms»English»Knowledge and Culture»”Pretty please, with a cherry on top”

Dear fellow Freedelfians,First of all, I would like to announce that I am still alive. I have switched jobs in mid-January and now have a lot less down time to visit the boards. I”ve lurked a little, but not much. So I am sending a big hello to everyone who remembers me, and the new members who will eventually remember me!As some may remember, I live in a french-speaking environment, but I have a coworker who I sometimes write notes to in English, as we both have a pretty good grasp on Shakespeare”s language. One of my recent notes used the expression “pretty please, with a cherry on top”, and since she was not familiar with it, she asked me to explain it, and even though I know what it means, I had a hard time putting it into words.So how would you explain the expression and its origin to someone who doesn”t know it? How can a “please” be likened to a sundae (I assume)? Is the addition of the cherry an image for asking in an extra nice way?Thank you, and take care!JP
Magazine:”When I was a kid, when we wanted something very badly, we wouldn”t just say, “Please!” After several repeated requests, we would say, “Pretty please with a cherry on top!”We were trying to be as polite and insistent as we could be at the same time. The phrase “… with a cherry on top” comes, of course, from the practice of finishing off desserts with a nice maraschino cherry on top of the whipping cream. The cherry is that final touch that makes the dessert special! We used the “cherry on top” with our request to try to do the same.So often today, the polite and courteous edges of our everyday speech are falling away. While the use of crude language, profane speech, off color humor, and sexist slang are all often considered necessary in a PC for “street cred.” However, if business and political folks are honest, a lot of the same is true in those worlds. In the everyday world of give and take, even simple words of courtesy like “Please,” or “Thank you,” are forgotten. Sarcastic “put downs” and “smart mouth” jabs are admired rather than reprimanded.”
Hey JP, long time, no see!I have heard and used that phrase all my life, but like you, I was hard-pressed to explain how and why it means what it does. Then I read JJ”s detective work, and I have to say that sounds like a pretty good explanation to me.Now who can explain just the “pretty please” part? Again, I know what it means, but how did that expression get started? Back to top

twinsonic Posted: Saturday, April 24, 2010 11:56:57 PM
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Oh, I remember “pretty please, with a cherry on top!” Then we would add and add and add on to that! Like “pretty please with a cherry and whipped cream, and nuts, and …. on top!” I think pretty is just to make the please sound more pleasing. To make it a pretty request. Something attractive. Maybe it is just the alliteration of the ps.

Đang xem: Pretty please with a cherry on top

Now who can explain just the “pretty please” part? Again, I know what it means, but how did that expression get started?
Now, this is hard to explain. When my sons were kids, 3-7 years old, they had a habit to ask something kindly. It was no “Please” (we speak Finnish here) but a cautiously whispered “iskä?”. Iskä is Finnish and means Daddy.So, Saturday afternoon, just half an hour before the corner shop would close the doors, the boys come to ask:”Iskä?” with THAT note put in the simple word, meaning “Can you go to buy some candies for us, PLEASE?”Daddy (trying to look the latest football news on telly) not hearing, not on this same Earth.Second try, with trembling voices:”Iiskäää?”No human creature is made to resist targeted bomb like armoured fortress. Forget the football news. Stand up, walk that 2 minutes to shop and buy some candies. After all, they asked so nicely, Pretty Please!
It sounds like a phrase a child uses, a small one at that, but from where did they get it? Was it from their mother when she begged them to pick up their toys? It sounds like wheedling to me. I don”t remember ever using it as I was more the threatening mother than a wheedling one (put away those toys or you”ll be suspended from the ceiling by the ankle until your eyes bleed!) My kids, however, used it when nearly all other forms of persuasion had failed, usually on their knees with hands clasped in front of their faces and eyes cast to the ceiling. Then again, I can see young women using this phrase on their boyfriends to cajole them into doing something they don”t want to do…such as giving up a football game to go shopping. By the way and off-topic, that Man U/Spurs game Saturday was worth waking up early for, but Spurs gave it away. I can”t sleep and got up to see what you were all up to which is why my post makes no sense. I”ll fade into the night now.
hi everyone! i found TFD so interesting i registered myself.”Pretty please with a cherry on top.” — gee, this line is sweet!

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DarkMoon
Posted: Sunday, April 25, 2010 7:06:08 AM
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What a delicious and nice expression!

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I”ve never come across it before when learning English, though a similar one exists in my native language. Thanks for sharing it with us, JPK. 🙂 That”s a great elucidation, JJ. I would say it doted the i’s and crossed the t’s. ;-)Now I have to peep into my fridge. It is never too early for a dessert fruit… maybe with a scoop of ice cream. 😉
Mag. said it all just right! Interesting that we say things and do not stop to think what they really mean. As a child, my brothers and sisters and I would use the expression “screamed bloody murder” as in “all I did was put a frog in her doll house and when it jumped on her she just screamed bloody murder.” I even heard Christine Amanpour use this expression on CNN the other day. Any ideas where it originated?
Dear fellow Freedelfians,As some may remember, I live in a french-speaking environment, but I have a coworker who I sometimes write notes to in English, as we both have a pretty good grasp on Shakespeare”s language. One of my recent notes used the expression “pretty please, with a cherry on top”, and since she was not familiar with it, she asked me to explain it, and even though I know what it means, I had a hard time putting it into words.JP
Thank God you did not give a literal translation such as:”S”il-te plaît, ma jolie, avec ta cerise au dessus!”
Dear fellow Freedelfians,As some may remember, I live in a french-speaking environment, but I have a coworker who I sometimes write notes to in English, as we both have a pretty good grasp on Shakespeare”s language. One of my recent notes used the expression “pretty please, with a cherry on top”, and since she was not familiar with it, she asked me to explain it, and even though I know what it means, I had a hard time putting it into words.JP
Thank God you did not give a literal translation such as:”S”il-te plaît, ma jolie, avec ta cerise au dessus!”
avatar: that definitely made me laugh!JJ: thanks for the answer, that was a great explanation! Your iiiiskaaaa story was a great one as well.grammargeek: hey you! I”ll try to hang out here more often. Work is supposed to get less hectic soon, and I should have 2 weeks off in late May, so we”ll see how that goes.michiko: welcome to the boards! It is a really great place and I miss it dearly!twinsonic/Cass/DarkMoon/MarySM: thank you for your contribution as well! Didn”t want you guys to feel left out 🙂
Oh, I remember “pretty please, with a cherry on top!” Then we would add and add and add on to that! Like “pretty please with a cherry and whipped cream, and nuts, and …. on top!” I think pretty is just to make the please sound more pleasing. To make it a pretty request. Something attractive. Maybe it is just the alliteration of the ps.
My siblings and I did that too. Eventually, it became a game of who could come up with the most ice cream toppings. lol 😀
Used the same phrase too and don”t know where the “pretty” came from. At the ice cream parlour and Dairy Queen the biggest/grandest dessert was “a banana split with a cherry on top”. Back to top

RuthP Posted: Friday, April 30, 2010 1:46:38 PM
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Hey JP, long time, no see!I have heard and used that phrase all my life, but like you, I was hard-pressed to explain how and why it means what it does. Then I read JJ”s detective work, and I have to say that sounds like a pretty good explanation to me.Now who can explain just the “pretty please” part? Again, I know what it means, but how did that expression get started?
I missed this particular thread earlier, so my response is a little late.I actually found some information Word Detective: Pretty please with sugar on top, which states the OED says the first known citation is from 1913.I seem to remember hearing / reading “to ask prettily” e.g., “She asked so prettily I could not refuse.” I wonder whether “pretty please” could have started as a way of saying “I”m asking prettily.” (By the way, I heard “with sugar,” “with whipped cream,” “with a cherry,” and combinations thereof while growing up – 1950s and “60s)And, the other thing which jumps to mind is the German “bitte schön” which would literally mean “pretty please.” (Yes, it means “(you”re) welcome, pretty” as well) Back to top

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