“Making Heads or Tails of Idioms” Newsletter. Volume 1. Issue 8.
Original Release: 5/3/2011
What was said? You just tried to slip me a mickey!
Did someone really say that? Yes on my project team, someone said it believing that the project estimate changed mysteriously since they last saw it. Note: this is not a correct usage of the term.
What does it mean? A Mickey Finn (or simply Mickey) is a slang term for a drink laced with a drug (especially chloral hydrate) given to someone without their knowledge in order to incapacitate them. Serving someone a Mickey Finn is most commonly referred to as slipping a mickey, sometimes spelled “slipping a mickie”.
Origin: The Mickey Finn is most likely named for the manager and bartender of a Chicago establishment, the Lone Star Saloon and Palm Garden Restaurant, which operated from 1896 to 1903 in the city’s South Loop neighborhood on South State Street. In December 1903, several Chicago newspapers document that a Michael “Mickey” Finn managed the Lone Star Saloon and was accused of using knockout drops to incapacitate and rob some of his customers. Moreover, the first known written example of the use of the term Mickey Finn is in 1915, twelve years after his trial, lending credence to this theory of the origination of the phrase.
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