[Idiom] Origin of "tearing up Ned" ?

Fulwild

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My mother-in-law age 87 born and raised in western Ohio USA uses the phrase " Tearing up Ned" to describe energetic but not well thought out action with a significant potential for damage or unforeseen ( at least to the actor) consequences. eg. " those kids were just racing around the house tearing up Ned". I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts as to the origin of this phrase.

The only thought I had was that it was related to Ned Kelly the Australian outlaw. This seems far fetched to me but maybe his story was better known in the past. Or maybe a radio character?
 

Tarheel

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Maybe it's a regionalism. It's something I have never run across before. (I'm from Missouri and live in NC.) Have you tried Google?

:)
 

Charlie Bernstein

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Ned is an old nickname for the devil. Some people say "Holy Ned!" to avoid swearing. She means making a mess, causing trouble, creating a commotion, misbehaving.

It's a great old expression.
 

Whoopy-Cat

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Twenty years ago, my father-in-law, who was 80 at the time, and a lifelong resident of Southern Iowa, used the term frequently. Whenever he would see a road crew or something, digging up the road or a ditch or whatever, he would inevitably say, "Well, they sure are tearing up old Ned!" That seems to fit what you were saying the meaning is: making a mess, causing trouble, creating a commotion. That is what I took it to mean as well.
 

probus

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A google search suggests that the expression was in use during the American Civil War, that is in the early 1860s. I think it has long faded from use and from memory.
 
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