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Thanks Dave. As erudite as ever! 
Quote from: DoctorBeaver on 15/05/2007 11:16:41Thanks Dave. As erudite as ever! He knows his onions.Hmmm... that brings another question to mind - where does that expression originate?
The crucial fact is that the expression isnít British but American, first recorded in the magazine Harperís Bazaar in March 1922. It was one of a set of such phrases, all with the sense of knowing oneís stuff, or being highly knowledgeable in a particular field, that circulated in the 1920s. Others were to know oneís oats, to know oneís oil, to know oneís apples, to know oneís eggs, and even to know oneís sweet potatoes (which appeared in a cartoon by T A Dorgan in 1928). You may notice certain similarities between the substances mentioned, most being foods and most having names that start with a vowel.They contain much of the verbal inventiveness and mildly juvenile wordplay that characterises another American linguistic fad of the flapper period, that of describing something excellent of its kind in terms of an area of an animalís anatomy (elephantís instep, gnatís elbows and about a hundred others ó see my piece on beeís knees for more).As with beeís knees, one of these multifarious forms eventually triumphed and became a catchphrase that has survived to the present day. Sadly it has provided an opportunity for a couple of people to provide what seems like an erudite explanation but which is really no more than a popular etymology.
Smart ass! [!]