1. A fast combination of punches.
2. A powerful combination of two people or things.
Example: When I’m making a gumbo, I never forget to add salt and pepper. These are the old one-two seasonings that make food taste even better!
The Origin Of ‘The Old One-Two’
It’s believed that this phrase originates from boxing, where there is a whole lot of punching that happens, and the ‘old one two’ is a quick combination of punches in boxing.
The earliest that I could find of this phrase in writing is during the early 1900s. For example, in the Oakland Tribune newspaper, printed June 1919, the expression is used in relation to boxing:
“The fans will see a big difference in Frankie. He is far stronger than he was before going to France, and he is hitting much harder. He has the old one-two punch down to perfection and he stings every time he lands.”
By the looks of it, this idiom later began to not only refer to a strong combination of punches in boxing, but also to things or people that are considered to be a strong combination. An example of this term being used in such a way, outside the context of boxing, is seen in the Lowell Sun newspaper, 1949:
“And maybe that’s the way the old team of Stalin and Molotov figured in the first place, since they’ve been working together for 35 years: The old one-two, with Molotov being tough and Stalin being soft if he had to.”
- For a simple lunch, the old one-two I always fall back on is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s a classic; it’s easy to make and tastes pretty good!
Note: The origins for many common idioms and phrases are not clear. In cases like this, what may be provided on the page instead is a theory as to how a phrase may have originated. Or, if no theory is mentioned, then I’ll at least try to include a quote on the expression’s page to give you an idea for a old a phrase is, at minimum.
These quotes are typically the oldest known citations of an expression being used in writing, and most of the time they come from newspapers, books, or poems. It’s possible that older citations exist and I have overlooked them.