This phrase was originally used to disband crowds who had gathered to see Elvis Presley. Now it’s used to mean something along the lines of ‘the show is over, it’s time to go home now.’
Origin Of ‘Elvis Has Left The Building’
Elvis Presley was a famous singer from the 20th century. He had millions of fans who enjoyed listening to him sing and perform. When he would perform somewhere, fans of his would likely be there to watch. Once he has finished performing, well obviously he’s going to leave the building, meaning that the show was over. Today, this phrase is used to mean that something has reached completion, or has ended.
Regarding this expression, Wikipedia mentions how it was used to disperse crowds after Elvis Presley concerts due to people lingering in hopes of seeing an encore. The first man believed to have used the phrase was Horace Lee Logan in 1956. Apparently, Elvis had just finished performing and was exiting the concert hall, so people were getting out of their seats to watch him leave. However, there were still more performances to come, so Logan announced:
“Alright, alright, Elvis has left the building. I’ve told you absolutely straight up to this point, you know that he has left the building; he left the stage and went out the back with the policeman and he is now gone from the building.”
- Jake went to the movies with his friends and after three long hours the movie had finally ended, yes, Elvis had left the building and it was time to go home.
Note: The origins for many popular sayings are unknown. When that happens, what I’ll do is list the plausible theories that try to explain a phrase’s origin, but remember, they are just theories. If not that, then I’ll typically find the earliest known written quote of the phrase, and list that. The quote will give you an idea on at least how far back an expression goes in history.
The quotes on this website, for the most part, come from older books, poems, newspapers, etc. Keep in mind, however, that if a saying is being used in an old newspaper, for example, then it’s probably already well-known at that time and thus is likely older than that.