"Meanwhile, back at the ranch...” was written on a card in an old silent western film. It was an indication to the movie audience that the film’s scene would be re-directed to back home at the ranch. The phrase “Meantime, at the ranch” was used in a 1912 Zane Grey novel; the phrase “Meanwhile, back at the ranch” was cited in print in a 1916 movie magazine.
The term “Meanwhile, back at the ranch” became a cliche in the 1950s and 1960s, indicating a redirection of a conversation or thought.
meanwhile, back at the ranch
A quote line to introduce a new topic of conversation, or to end a particularly embarrassing line of talk.
Derived from the old horse operas where action at one point was interrupted to go to the ranch in question; This line being spoken by the narrator in order to assist the hard of thinking. ( A hold over from radio narration style )
A:"Anyway, how did your date with Sarah go?”
B:’OK, I guess . . . Did you know she was a hermaphrodite?”
A:"Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . . ”
by D F Stuckey May 4, 2004
The Yale Book of Quotations
Edited by Fred R. Shapiro
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
“Meanwhile back at the ranch.”
Oakland Tribune, 21 July 1940. Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage (1912) contains the phrase “Meantime, at the ranch.”
(Oxford English Dictionary)
meanwhile back at the ranch: originally used in western stories and films, introducing a subsidiary plot; now chiefly humorous and in extended use.
[1912 Z. GREY Riders of Purple Sage vi. 65 Meantime, at the ranch, when Judkins’s news had sent Venters on the trail of the rustlers, Jane Withersteen led the injured man to her house.]
1940 Oakland (Calif.) Tribune (Electronic text) 21 July, Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Sandy’s dog, Pat, began to whine.
1956 Life 2 Apr. 17/2 (advt.) Meanwhile, back at the ranch… That caption from the old silent movies prompts us to ask this question: How much of your precious time is tied up ‘back at the ranch’?
1963 J. CRIST in N.Y. Herald Tribune Sunday Mag. 24 Nov. 40/2 Kramer keeps any number of old ‘meanwhile, back at the ranch’ side adventures going.
1978 Observer 29 Jan. (Colour Suppl.) front cover (caption) Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
1999 Stage 30 Sept. 9/3 Meanwhile back at the ranch! After a few weeks in London, I returned to discover that the..New York theatre season had slowly been getting into gear.
September 1905, Shields’ Magazine, pg. 191:
In the meantime, at the ranch, Hero was talking to the dog as rapidly as he could utter sound, and it was evident that he was exultantly telling how well he had chastised the horse.
Riders of the Purple Sage:
By Zane Grey
New York, NY: Harper & Brothers Publishers
MEANTIME, at the ranch, when Judkins’s news had sent Venters on the trail of the rustlers, Jane Withersteen led the injured man to her house and with skilled fingers dressed the gunshot wound in his arm.
The Moving Picture World
By Moving Picture Exhibitors’ Association
Published by The World Photographic Publishing Company, 1916
Item notes: v.30 1916 Oct-Dec
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the accomplice had been captured and led away. Thus the Indian was able to show his loyalty and gratitude to the young foreman.
27 May 1931, Charleston (WV) Daily Mail, “Good-Night Stories” by Thornton W. Burgess, pg. 16, col 7:
Meanwhile back on the ranch Flip had been missed by Farmer Brown’s Boy.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Monday, February 05, 2007 • Permalink