What does the expression “on the cuff” mean and Where does it come from?

The expression “on the cuff” means on credit.

We surmise, but can’t prove, that this phrase and its interpretation originated in the barroom, the saloon of old.

The bartender, short of convenient paper for keeping records of amounts due, but having starched white cuff and pencil handy, just wrote “John Jones-30” on his cuff, transferring the record to something more permanent when business was slack.

The American Thesaurus of Slang (1947) says that the phrase also means “arranged; scheduled.”

We have never heard it so used.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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