A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 21, 2013
“Done like a dinner”

To be “done like a dinner” is to be finished and utterly defeated. “We did him then, and I’m glad he’s done now: such a man as that ought to be done like a dinner” was cited in print in 1845. The saying has long been popular in Australia.

The saying has only infrequently been used in the United States. “And forget the damn Yankees. They’re done like dinner” was cited in a Boston newspaper in 1979.


The Free Dictionary
be done like a (dog’s) dinner (Australian informal)
to be completely defeated

Google Books
The Love Match
By Henry Cockton
New York, NY: Burgess, Stringer and Company
1845
Pg. 172:
We did him then, and I’m glad he’s done now: such a man as that ought to be done like a dinner.

Google Books
Settlers and Convicts; or, Recollections of Sixteen Years’ Labour in the Australian Backwoods
By Alexander Harris
London: C. Cox
1847
Pg. 72:
It ‘ll soon be daylight, and if we don’t give the rain time to wash out the horsetracks we shall be done like a dinner.

Google Books
Shimmer of Silk:
A volume of Melbourne Cup stories

By Robert Percy Whitworth and W. A. Windas
Melbourne: William Marshall and Company
1893
Pg. 13:
But if you don’t, it’s another thing, and of course you’re done like a dinner: ...

Google Books
Fifty Years of My Life in the World of Sport at Home and Abroad
Fourth Edition
By Sir John Dugdale Astley (3d Bart.)
London: Hurst and Blackett, Limited
1895
Pg. 17:
We were done ‘like a dinner,’ all the same; for, when my servant called me in the morning, he said that ‘a gang of navvies had been brought into College and had cut a way through the arch, leaving a gangway quite sufficient for us to pass through’ ...

20 December 1920, (Washington, DC), “O’Rourke Abroad Now Arranging for Dates” by Fairplay, pg. 21, col. 1:
“The reason was he came up for that round smeared with the scent of toobar roses, and I was done like a dinner.”
(Boxing slang—ed.)

Google Books
The Deserter
By Douglas LePan
Toronto, Ont.: McClelland and Stewart
1964
Pg. 84:
“I was done like a dinner.”

Google News Archive
11 September 1973, The Age (Melbourne, Australia), “Council group split,” pg. 3, col. 1:
While the victors celebrated, a disappointed Cr. Rice said: “We’ve been done, and done like a dinner.”

2 July 1979, Boston (MA) Herald American, “Sox can’t forget O’s” by D. Leo Monahan, pg. 19, col. 2:
And forget the damn Yankees. They’re done like dinner.

13 February 1987, The Oregonian (Portland, OR), “When fur flies, better Duck” by Terry Frei, pg. F1, col. 1:
The Beavers were done like dinner.

Google Books
Cassel Dictionary of Slang
By Jonathon Green
London: Cassel
2006
Pg. 427:
done like a dinner phr. (mid-19C+] (Aus.) ‘done to a turn’, i.e. utterly defeated, [done adj.1 (4) + cooking imagery]
done like a dog’s dinner phr. [1930s+] (N.Z.) trounced, utterly defeated, [var. on done like a dinner phr.)

Urban Dictionary
done like a dinner
The act of being finished or screwed over in a way that is similar to the act of a dinner’s preperation time coming to an end.
1. If I don’t pay that mob boss Tony his money back in one hour I’m going to be done like a dinner!
by s0meone Jan 21, 2006

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Thursday, March 21, 2013 • Permalink