Bookshelp header image for page World Wide Words logo

Cry all the way to the bank

Q From Eva Gustafsson, Sweden: In Sweden you used to say cry all the way to the bank when you did something bad but, but still you made some money from it as a consolation. I have noticed that people are now using the English expression translated to Swedish. What does the English expression mean?

A The English phrase means pretty much what you’ve said: that you are making money undeservedly at the expense of others; another version is laugh all the way to the bank. It often refers to a sportsman who loses a match, or to a show-business person who gives a poor performance, but who still cynically collects a thumping fee.

The phrase is often credited to that flamboyant and camp American pianist Liberace, he of the candelabra, extraordinary costumes and piano-shaped swimming pool. It became a catchphrase for him and he is often quoted as originating it. The first four examples in the Oxford English Dictionary all refer to him, the first being from the Daily Mirror of 26 September 1956: “On the occasion in New York at a concert in Madison Square Garden when he had the greatest reception of his life and the critics slayed him mercilessly, Liberace said: ‘The take was terrific but the critics killed me. My brother George cried all the way to the bank.’ ” Later, he was quoted as saying “Remember that bank I cried all the way to? I bought it.”

Sadly, for what survives of Liberace’s reputation, it looks very much as though he borrowed an existing expression. It appeared, to give one example, in the Waterloo Daily Courier of Iowa on 3 September 1946: “Eddie Walker perhaps is the wealthiest fight manager in the game ... The other night when his man Belloise lost, Eddie had the miseries ... He felt so terrible, he cried all the way to the bank!”

Share this page
Facebook Twitter StumbleUpon Google+ LinkedIn Email

Search World Wide Words

Support World Wide Words!

Donate via PayPal. Select your currency from the list and click Donate.


Buy from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you. Select your preferred site and click Go!

OTHER WAYS TO HELP

Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 15 May 2004

Advice on copyright

The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-cry1.htm
Last modified: 15 May 2004.