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You Put the "X" in "XY"

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At some point in one's life, they will come across many different people with views, thoughts, and beliefs than their own, especially if they live in a universe where there are aliens, monsters, fairies, demons, vampires, or what have you co-existing with humans; in fact, it doesn't even have to be beings from a different species in order for you come across someone different, considering that each and every human is unique.

As a result, that person will come across someone he/she loathes with absolute intensity (i.e. The Rival, Alpha Bitch, Big Bad, Anti-Hero, etc.) or someone he/she loves/admires so much that they'd sacrifice anything just to please them (i.e. Big Brother Mentor, Love Interest, etc.). But how do they go about describing this person they hate/like? Not any old compliment/insult will do.

Therefore, the person must describe them as the epitome of the trait that they loathe/admire. Thus, they say "Bob, you put the X in XY", Y being a word somewhat relevant to the context and X being a compliment or an insult phonetically contained within it, e.g. "Bob, you truly put the "Ass" in Ambassador."

There's also the related "you can't have XY without X" phrase, for example, "You can't have consensual without sensual."


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  • A slogan for Planters Peanuts is "Nutrition starts with Nut!"
  • A magazine ad for Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix has the tagline: "These two ladies put the 'ass' in 'assassin'."

    Anime And Manga 
  • In the dub of Sgt. Frog, Natsumi complains, "Those frogs put the 'noise' in 'annoys.'"

    Fan Works 
  • More Fragging Paperwork: Optimus Prime's opinion on Starscream is that the latter puts "the 'fun' in 'fundamental genocide'."

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 

  • Being a word- and language-play book, "Die dampfenden Hälse der Pferde im Turm von Babel" by Franz Fühmann naturally discusses this trope back and forth (albeit only in spirit, since the stock phrase itself doesn't exist in German).
  • In The Dresden Files novel Blood Rites, Harry says, "I put the 'ick' in 'magic'."

    Live Action TV 
  • Ally McBeal episode "Just Friends"
    John Cage: You put the "fish" in "superficial".
  • Best Week Ever
    Doug Benson: She puts the "bra" in "abracadabra".
  • In Black Monday:
    Maurice: Now if you'll excuse me, I'ma go put the "brother" in "Lehman Brothers".
  • From Buffy:
    Buffy: And what are we if not women up to a challenge?
    Willow: Exactly! I mean, did we not put the "grrr" in "girl"?
  • Family Matters episode, "Life of the Party":
    Steve: You two guys put the "ick" in "pathetic"!
  • In the Galavant song "Oy! What a Knight":
    Sid's Rabbi: Our Sidney is the knight who put/The "sir" in "circumcised"!
  • Hannah Montana episode "Everybody Was Best Friend Fighting"
    Guillermo Montoya: put the tennis in Tennessee.
  • Kitchen Confidential
    Jack Bourdain: You put the "ho" in "hostess".
  • The Larry Sanders Show episode "Roseanne's Return"
    Arthur: She puts the 'supe' in supermodel.
  • The My Name Is Earl episode, "Chaz Dalton's Space Academy".
    Earl: You put the "ass" in astronaut! You put the "not" in astronaut!
    Randy: Zing!
  • QI episode "Bears"
    Stephen Fry: You put the "qi" in quim.
  • In Queer as Folk (US), Emmett dresses up as a geisha for Ben's surprise party and Ted tells him that he "puts the gay back in geisha."
  • In The Smoking Room', a motivational speaker brought in to help the staff quit smoking doesn't quite understand the form of these, coming up with a nonsensical version that the staff immediately pick apart.
    Derek: I'm here to put the "F-U-N" into "quitting"!
    Robin: How would you pronounce that? "Quiffunting"?
    Barry: "Quitfunning"?
    Len: 'Ere, you could split it up - have "fuckwitting".
  • One of the last lines to the Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego theme song:
    She put the "miss" in "misdemeanor" when she stole the beans from Lima
  • One game of "Hats" in Whose Line Is It Anyway? sees Wayne wearing a Pope hat.
    Wayne: "I put the PUH! in Pope!"
  • In "Chimera", an episode of The X-Files, Mulder and Scully learn a married small town sheriff has been sleeping with several women besides his wife.
    Mulder: Gotta hand it to you, sheriff. You really put the "service" in "Protect and serve."

  • One Computer Gaming World review of Hooters Road Trip says that "It is embarrassing to anyone who buys it for the 'hoot' in Hooters because they'll find nothing but a disjointed assortment of poorly produced five-second clips and no nudity."
  • In the "Bullseye" section of Entertainment Weekly Issue #1493 (Dec. 8, 2017), one of the arrows in the "Near-Miss" part says, "Putting the 'gramps' in Grammys."
    • In the same "Bullseye" section in Issue #1499 (Jan. 19, 2018), one of the arrows in the "Hit" part shows Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes, with a caption that says, "Putting the O back in OMG."
  • From the "Cheers & Jeers" section of the Oct. 14-27, 2019 issue of TV Guide:
    Jeers to American Horror Story: 1984 for putting the "ear" in fear. Even though FX's campy, slasher flick-inspired season has so far been the most entertaining AHS since Coven, all of those lingering close-ups of the killer slicing off his victims' ears turn our stomachs.

  • Barry Mann asks the musical question, "Who put the bomp in the bomp-shoo-bomp-shoo-bomp? Who put the ram in the ram-a-dam-a-ding-dong?"
  • Jo Dee Messina's "Peace Sign" has the line "You put the FU in fun."
  • Hank Williams III's "Dick In Dixie":
    I'm here to put the dick back in Dixie and the cunt back in country!
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Jerry Springer" (parody of Barenaked Ladies' "One Week") has this:
    Jerry's the king of confrontation;
    He's a sensation!
    He puts the "sin" in "syndication"!
  • Blake Shelton's "She's Got a Way with Words":
    She put the her in hurt
    She put the why in try
    She put the S.O.B. In sober
    She put the hang in hangover
    She put the ex in sex
    She put the low in blow
    She put a big F.U. In my future
    Yeah she's got a way, she's got a way with words
  • Barenaked Ladies' "The Wizard of Magicland" is about a man who loves himself too much to be interested in loving anyone else. Or as he puts it, 'I'm the me in monogamy'.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In WrestleMania XXX, Paul Heyman kept encouraging a beaten Brock Lesnar that the latter was "the 1 in 21-1" (although Heyman didn't know that ending The Undertaker's Streak was Vince McMahon's decision hours before the match). And when the Streak had ended, Heyman kept repeating this mantra, especially in Monday Night Raw:
    Heyman: Brock Lesnar is the 1 in 21-1!

  • In the Big Finish Doctor Who adventure "The Skull of Sobek", the Doctor's companion starts experiencing strange visions. When he finds out, he remarks "You put the Lucie in hallucination."

    Tabletop Games 

  • In The Addams Family, Gomez sings of his wife, "The mist inside the word mystique."

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • Scary Go Round: "You can't say 'nautical' without saying 'naughty.' I tried; it's not even a word."
  • Variation in Schlock Mercenary.
    Schlock: ...puts the 'hot' back into 'shut up'.
    Kevyn: 'Shut up' doesn't have a 'hot'.
    Schlock: But 'shot up' does.
    Elf: I like the way you spell, Sergeant.
    She put the 'assault' back in 'glamour assault', alright.
    Yeah, and she put the 'ass' back in 'assault' too!
  • This strip from The System.
    I'm spending all day programming. I call it putting the FUN in FUNCTIONS! ...I need to get out more.

    Web Original 
  • The Annoying Orange to a "barking spider".
    Annoying Orange: That guy really puts the 'rant' in tarantula.
    • Also with the new iPhone / iPod game "Kitchen Carnage":
      Annoying Orange: I really know how to put the 'App' in Apple.
  • One GameZone review of Contra 4 called it "A game that puts the 'hard' in 'hardcore' and the 'old' in 'old-school'."
  • One GamesRadar+ preview of Dead Island 2 has this sentence:
    "Judging from the few hours I spent in the game, I think it's safe to say that the studio [Dambuster] succeeded in putting the gore in gorgeous."
  • According to Boomstick from DEATH BATTLE!, Rainbow Dash puts the "pwn" in pony.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Machinabridged: Dio, head of staff at the Gold Saucer, puts the 'man' in 'manager'.
  • Happy Harry Toons: Putting the "LOL" back in Philology.
  • Homestar Runner, from the Strong Bad Email "halloweener":
    "Until next time, who put the 'ween' in Halloween? I dunno, probably you, ya freakin' weirdo."
  • In Kickassia:
    The Cinema Snob: You really know how to put the dick in dictatorship.
  • The Web site Muse Blog- "We put the 'piracy' in 'conspiracy'."
  • A Nintendo Life review of Damascus Gear: Operation Tokyo has a header that says, "Putting the mobile in 'Mobile Suit'."
  • In Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG, the titular Loonie cannot say that his vampire hunter "takes the 'un' out of 'undead'".

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Sheen tells Timmy "You know how to put the 'mental' in 'experimental'."
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Man Who Killed Batman", Harley Quinn says to the Joker, "You put The "Fun" in "Funeral"."
  • From an episode of The Critic: "We put the 'harm' in 'pharmaceuticals'."
  • Vicky from The Fairly OddParents! is called "Icky with a V" by Timmy behind her back. It even led to a Chip Skylark song called "Icky Vicky."
  • Gravity Falls: In "Boss Mabel", Grunkle Stan tells some tourists leaving the Mystery Shack, "Remember, folks, we put the 'fun' in 'no refunds'!"
  • The Simpsons
    • In "Whacking Day", the motto outside Springfield Christian School is "We Put the 'Fun' in 'Fundamentalist Dogma'".
    • In "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song", Ned Flanders becomes the new principal of Springfield Elementary:
    Flanders: Well, tippity-top of the A.M. to every-good-body here. As chairman of the PTA, I am de-diddley-lighted to take over here and I think I can put the "pal" back in "principal".
    [The students laugh.]
    Chalmers: Heh heh, yeah. And I'll put the "super" back in "superintendent".
    [Silence. One person coughs.]
    • And seconds later:
      Jimbo: I was wondering, do you, er, what's your policy on, uh, lunch?
      Ned: Well, let me just say I want to put the "stew" back in "students".
      [The students laugh again.]
    • "Bart After Dark" has "We Put The Spring in Springfield".
    • "Maybe this key will be the key to putting the 'key' in 'anarchy'."
    • "Bart's Inner Child" has motivational speaker Brad Goodman, who Troy McClure introduces as putting the "you" in "impr-you-vement".
  • The Expository Theme Tune for Taz-Mania has this:
    Have we left anyone out?
    Oh yeah, don't forget Taz.

    He puts the "Taz" in "Taz-Mania",
    Down in Taz-Mania;
    Come to Taz-Mania...
    We mean you!


Alternative Title(s): Putting The X In XY