The British say someone is on about something; Americans say going on, or going on and on. The first citation in the OED is from Rosamund Lehmann’s 1936 novel, Weather in Streets: “Marda’s always asking me why I don’t get a divorce… Last year she was always on about it.”
Welcome to NOOB-hood, bro.
- Kathryn Schulz (@kathrynschulz) writes on Twitter: “While I’m on about etymology (I’m always on about etymology): ‘adamant’ gets its root from ‘diamond’ — hard, unbreakable.”
- Kelly Dwyer on Yahoo Sports a couple of weeks ago: “I didn’t see a second of TNT’s Thursday night package, and didn’t hear what [basketball commentator Chris] Webber was on about.”
- “G. Funk”‘s comment on an article about professional wrestling on The Bleacher Report: “That’s why [the Ultimate Warrior] was the best. No one had a clue what he was on about, but everyone loved it.”
An early U.S. use came from the Rev. Al Sharpton, quoted in a 2002 New York Times article about a taped conversation he had with an undercover agent posing as a drug dealer: ”The guy had come to me. In the middle of conversation he started talking about how he could cut me in on a cocaine deal. I didn’t know what this guy was on about. I didn’t know if he was armed. I was scared, so I just nodded my head to everything he said and then he left.”
Always a groundbreaker, the Rev. is.