Word Ways


Richard Lederer


On the night of June 21, 1932, in Madison Square Garden, Joe Jacobs, the manager for boxer Max Schmeling, heard the judges award a decision to Schmeling's opponent, Jack Sharkey. Enraged, Jacobs grabbed the announcer's microphone and shouted to the world, "We was robbed!" Turns out that Jacobs fashioned his patch of rhetorical and oratorical immortality from a Greek figure of speech called an enallage, an effective mistake in grammer that drives home an argument.