Submitted by whoopycat on November 26, 2009

“...not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

I’m curious as to the origin of the phrase “...not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

I have a vague recollection of hearing it for the first time -- possibly in a comedian’s act? -- many years ago, clearly in the context that it now seems to ubiquitously have: a reference to homosexuality. For the life of me, I cannot recall who it was I first heard say this. I do seem to recall that it was long before Seinfeld made it popular.

Does anyone else have a similar memory?

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Seinfeld may well have popularised it, but it was around well before that. Earliest example at Google Books is from a comedy from 1924, but it really seems to have taken off in the 1960s. This is from "Sex and the Office", by Helen Gurley Brown, from 1964 - "He helped out in the rose garden at home — not that there's anything wrong with that", and this is from 1967 - "... question of tolerance, disgust, hate, nor anything else, but lechery (not that there's anything wrong with that). " ("Anything goes", by Bine Strange Petersen, 1967)

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The first I remember was on an episode of Seinfeld, where Jerry's supposed to be doing an interview with a woman who thinks he and George are gay for one another. They affixed the phrase to the end of every insistence that they were not gay lovers.

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Every time homosexuality was mentioned on Seinfeld, someone would say, "—not that there's anything wrong with that..."

Of course, that is not the origin of this phrase. It surely goes back centuries...

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