1. A fast combination of punches.
2. A powerful combination of two people or things.
The Origin Of ‘The Old One-Two’
This phrase is believed to originate from boxing. Why? Well, there is a whole lot of punching that goes on and the ‘old one-two’ is a quick combination of punches in boxing.
As for the age of this phrase, the earliest I could find it in print is the early 1900s. For example, in the Oakland Tribune newspaper, 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.”
This phrase started out as a boxing term, by the looks of it; it referred to a punch that is immediately followed by a second punch. Later, this term became an idiom for a strong combination of people or things. An example of this is 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 it tastes pretty good too!
Additionally, the citations on the page are not meant to be taken as the phrase’s origin point. Rather, they are there to show how old the expression is.