Shonda Rhimes? Carol Burnett? Jane Fonda? Anne Lamott? Megan LeBoutillier? Bil Keane? Earl Wilson? Si Cornell? Anonymous?
Question for Quote Investigator: A negative response to a request often causes dissatisfaction. Hence the request is repeated many times. Some people do not wish to accept “No” for an answer. The following adage is favored by adamant respondents:
The word “No” is a complete sentence.
This statement has been attributed to prominent U.S. television producer Shonda Rhimes, well-known U.S. comedian Carol Burnett, and popular U.S. author Anne Lamott. Would you please explore this topic?
Reply from Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in 1958 within the newspaper column of Si Cornell in “The Cincinnati Post” of Ohio. Boldface added to excerpt by QI: 1958 October 20, The Cincinnati Post, The Town’s Talking: Lawyer Tries Hypnotism by Si Cornell, Quote Page 11, Column 2, Cincinnati, Ohio. (GenealogyBank)
SIGN ON BANK official’s desk: “In this office, the word NO is a complete sentence.”
The creator of this quip remains anonymous. Shonda Rhimes, Carol Burnett, Anne Lamott, and many others employed this saying after it was already in circulation.
Additional details and citations are available in the article on the Medium platform which is located here.
Image Notes: Sign depicting a choice between “Yes” and “No” from geralt at Pixabay.
Acknowledgement: Great thanks to Ben Yagoda whose inquiry led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration. Yagoda told QI about the podcasts with Jane Fonda and Carol Burnett during which the expression was employed. Yagoda also told QI about the 1959 citation in the “Reader’s Digest”.
|↑1||1958 October 20, The Cincinnati Post, The Town’s Talking: Lawyer Tries Hypnotism by Si Cornell, Quote Page 11, Column 2, Cincinnati, Ohio. (GenealogyBank)|