Not The Boss of Me #history #slang

I love research. Seriously, it is one of my favorite things about being a writer. Because I wanted to make sure that this phrase was used during the time period I was working on, I stumbled on this, and it just thrilled me to know this slang has gone back so far!

Though the phrase “you’re not the boss of me” may owe some of its current popularity to the TMBG song, this bit of rebellious kid-speak has been kicking around since the late 19th century.

When I checked up on this a few years ago for the American Dialect Society mailing list, I was able to trace “you’re not the boss of me” back to 1953 using then-available digitized newspaper databases. Now, thanks to the wonders of Google Book Search, it’s easy to take it back another 70 years:

His sister was going to put her arms around him, but he whirled, and facing her with a very angry face, snapped — “Let me alone; you are not the boss of me now, I tell you, and I’m going to do as I please.”
—”As by Fire,” The Church, New Series Vol. III, 1883, p. 70

Source: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/005037.html