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. Now a Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from November 23, 2019
“Throw the book at him/her” (give the maximum penalty)

To legally “throw the book at” someone is to charge a person (if a prosecutor) or penalize a person (if a judge) very severely. The “book” is a law book, and the throwing is meant figuratively.

“He (the judge—ed.) threw the books at me” was printed in the Seattle (WA) Post-Intelligencer on March 29, 1894. “Figuratively speaking, Municipal Judge Hogue ‘threw the book’ at Marie Smith” was printed in The Oregon Daily Journal (Portland, OR) on July 2, 1903.

Wiktionary: throw the book at
throw the book at

1. (transitive, idiomatic, informal) To charge with or convict of as many crimes as possible.
2. (transitive, idiomatic, informal) To apply the harshest possible punishment to.
3. Used other than with a figurative or idiomatic meaning: see throw,‎ the,‎ book,‎ at.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
book, n.
slang (originally U.S.). The maximum penalty or charge for a person accused of criminal activity. Chiefly in to throw the book at a person: to charge a person with every possible offence; to sentence a person as severely as possible; also in extended use. Also to get (also do) the book: to be imprisoned for the maximum term for a crime.
1908 J. Hopper & F. R. Bechdolt 9009 i. 7 You’ll wish they’d handed you the book and you’d been hung.
1911 G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society iii. 42 As soon as they finds you’ve got no political pull, the judges and all git very moral; throw the book at you and tell you to add up the sentences in it.
1928 R. J. Tasker Grimhaven (1929) i. 11 I’m doing one life jolt, and two one-to-fiftys..—yes sir, doing the book.
1939 Los Angeles Times 14 Nov. ii. 11/3 The commission threw the book at him by grounding him for 25 racing days. 

29 March 1894, Seattle (WA) Post-Intelligencer, pg. 5, col. 1: 
Wilcox Sentenced to Twenty Years for Manslaughter.
As he entered his cell he smilingly asked the jailer:

“What do you think I got?”

“Five or six years,” was the reply.”

“You’re way off. He threw the books at me,” said Wilcox.

2 July 1903, The Oregon Daily Journal (Portland, OR), pg. 4, col. 5:
Judge Hogue Sends Marie Smith to Prison For One Year—Sentence Is Limit.
Figuratively speaking, Municipal Judge Hogue “threw the book” at Marie Smith, a colored woman of the North End, when he sentenced her to serve a term of one year in the country jail this morning. This is the most severe jail sentence within the power of the Municipal Court.

7 May 1911, The Daily Ledger (Tacoma, WA), “Alburtus Gets Term in Jail,” pg. 7, col. 2:
“No, I didn’t ‘throw the book’ at this hypnotist fellow,” said Judge Arntson, in discussing the case, “for I could have sentenced him under the statute to a $250 fine with an additional jail sentence of 90 days.”

15 July 1915, Seattle (WA) Daily Times, “Bluecourt Plays Joke on Houston Shriner,” pg. 16, col. 7:
The “Smile with Nile” was wiped from the faces of the singers and the chauffeur sat dumbfounded, with a mental vision of police court and a judge “throwing the book” at him.

OCLC WorldCat record
“If they start anything, we’ll throw the book at them.”
Author: Herbert Block
Publisher: 9-6-[19]53.
Edition/Format: Image : Graphic : Picture : English
Publication: Herbert L. Block collection (Library of Congress)

OCLC WorldCat record
I’ll throw the book at you, Beetle Bailey
Author: Mort Walker
Publisher: New York : Grosset & Dunlap, [1973]
Series: Tempo books, 5582
Edition/Format: Print book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
‘We Will Throw the Book at Them’
Author: E Austin
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: Prosecutor, v21 n4 (Spring 1988): 16-18
The program, started in 1988, offers a select group of defendants the opportunity to escape prosecution by completing a high school equivalency course. The program’s five components are described, beginning with the recruitment process.

Urban Dictionary
throw the book at
To give someone the maximum sentence for a crime or penalize very harshly.
Marty really got screwed over that jaywalking charge when the judge threw the book at him and gave him a life sentence in the federal do-me-in-the-ass prison.
by Nick D August 26, 2004

OCLC WorldCat record
PROFESSIONAL LIFE - “Throw the book at him!” - When he went to court as an expert witness, this doctor discovered that legal idioms abound.
Publisher: Oradell, N.J. [etc.] Medical Economics.
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: Medical economics. 85, no. 9, (2008): 48

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military/ Religion • Saturday, November 23, 2019 • Permalink