Full record for tanstaafl n.

Definition interjection asserting that there is a cost, hidden or otherwise to everything
OED requirements antedating 1966
Earliest cite R. Heinlein 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress'
Comment Acronym for 'There ain't no such thing as a free lunch'.

Rick Hauptmann submitted a cite from a reprint of Robert Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"; Mike Christie verified this in the 1966 original magazine appearance. Elizabeth McCoy submitted a 1998 cite from McCoy's Lilim section in the "In Nomine Infernal Players Guide". Malcolm Farmer submitted a 1975 cite from an article by F. Paul Wilson. Michael Dolbear submitted a cite from a 1995 reprint of Mercedes Lackey's "Burning Water".

Rick Hauptmann located on this Yale website an article about quotations that includes this comment: 'Mr. Shapiro's research unearthed a 1952 mention in the journal Ethics, which referred to Professor Alvin Hansen's "famous TINSTAAFL formula `There is no such thing as a free lunch.'"' Jeff Prucher located this cite and submitted it. We would like to know if the phrase can be further antedated in Hansen's own writings.

Jerry Pournelle has said that he and his father both used the phrase as early as the 1930's. His father was a radio personality and made up a number of slogans and jingles, but Pournelle does not know whether his father made up the phrase or not.

We would like to antedate 1966 for the form "tanstaafl" and 1952 for the form "tinstaafl", and in addition we would like cites of any date from other authors.

Last modified 6 July, 2008