in your dreams! interjection earlier than 1986

Agent Six has provided a verifiable example from 1976.

The sarcastic interjection in your (or my, her, his, etc.) dreams is familiar in everyday spoken English, but the earliest evidence our editors have found comes from a Usenet post in 1986.

We suspect that it may have been used earlier than that; can you help us prove it? Popular culture such as film and television might be a good place to start.

Here is our entry for reference:

OED editor Fiona McPherson explains this appeal below:

Posted by OED_Editor on 26 September 2012 20.01
Comments: 19

  • Patrick de la Ravalaje

    I cannot find documentation of this 1986 Usenet post, and it does not seem to be in the Google archive for talk.religion.misc. The earliest use of the phrase in the group, according to the search engine, dates to 1993. Can a source for the instance be provided, please?

  • OED_Editor

    Thank you – that looks like a promising lead. We’ll try and establish a translation date.

  • axon hillock

    Roy Orbison song?….! In Dreams  >  Derived from?……

    you never know,,,,,then drifts in,,,,,maybe even from another 50s type song with “dream” in it….

    >>coming in from the cold>>>Bob Marley did a song on the Uprising album>maybe he got it from the novel,,,! but also possible gospel,old testament type imagery>

    also>not related but while ,,once for Corduroy,,years ago i saw this i saw as being derived from Cord du Roy,,,a hanging noose made from velvet as a sort of final privilege for nobility or kings sentenced to death by hanging,,anyway,,in your entry and in Collins it is just ribbed velvet etc…

  • GarsonOToole

    Here is an instance of the phrase in the speech of a stadium vendor.

    Cite: 1982 July 13, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Stadium vendors combine hustle with personality by Brian E. Albrecht, [Continued from Page 1-E], Page 3-E, Column 2, Cleveland, Ohio. (GenealogyBank)
    [Begin excerpt]

    “Well, I got my 65 bucks,” he announced, mopping his dripping face with a towel.

    “Yeah, in your dreams Tino.”

    [End excerpt]

    It is the possible the 1981 Anime (mentioned on this thread)
    had a fansub earlier. Of course, there might be more than one way to translate
    the dialog.

  • Leighzeigh

    Does the film “To Sir With Love” contain the phrase? Worth checking …

  • Found this reference via There may be earlier movies to be found there too…

    The movie Car Wash (1976) at 00:48:02
    “That’s all right, Chuko. I’m gonna get you. In your dreams, Pocahontas.”

  • David

    It was common as a verbal put-down in the 1978-81 period.

  • The phrase as “…if only in my dreams” appears in “I’ll be Home for Christmas”; while not sarcastic, it has the same essential meaning.

    This was first released in 1943.

  • [I posted this yesterday but I edited it and perhaps accidentally deleted it, so here it is again…]

    I found an earlier reference on, perhaps there may be others to be found there,

    in the movie Car Wash (1976):

    at 00:48:02 “That’s all right, Chuko. I’m gonna get you. In your dreams, Pocahontas.”

    • OED_Editor

       Thanks for this lead! If it is the earliest one we receive, we will investigate further.

  • Cyfeche

    I’m from China. We have a similar expression “zuomeng” (have a dream). I doubt there’s some connection between the expression and “in your dreams”.

  • Emmett Redd

    I did a Google ngram search and came up with a May 8, 1944, Gibson appliance advertisement on page 116: . 

    It explicitly says, “You’ve never seen anything like them…except, perhaps, in your dreams!”  The in-your-dreams phrase seems to be not as darkly printed as the rest of the text in order to set it off as a common phrase. 

    It does have the meaning of something being un-obtainable.

    It appears I have attached an image.


  • Emmett Redd

    I kept looking and found a poem published in 1890:

    My earlier post about the phrase not being so darkly printed is spurious; it is actually Google’s highlighting of the search phrase.


  • brunoegainzer

    In an episode (“The Psychiatrist”) of “Fawlty Towers” (1975, 1979) Basil Fawlty’s wife yells at her husband “Do really believe, even in your wildest dreams, that a young girl could be interested in and old fogey like you.”

  • Bryn_OED

    A short story [“Lady Luck”, by J.C. Esmonde] in the Magazine Section [p3] of The Horsham Times newspaper, Victoria, Australia, for Week Ending 6th May 1950, contains the passage:

    “I’ve seen that bloke” he announced “By Jingo I have”
    “In your dreams” said his good lady scornfully, “Eat your dinner before it gets cold” 

  • Bryn_OED

    The short story “Random’s Heritage”, in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, for 9th January, 1934 p6] has the passage:
     ” `Rain ?’`Rain be shot ! Up this lagoon, there’s gone something with oars-two lots. I heard ’emthrough my dreams.’`In your dreams, you mean, man.’ Fix this text”Sounds were as real as drums …”
    It has the sarcastic tone that is being sought – but seems a less certain usage

  • Matt L

    I imagine you’re looking for the truncated sentence as an interjection rather than mere use of the phrase to express skepticism, but nevertheless how about this: 

    “A queer beast—yet I met a stranger one!”

    “If you did, it must have been in your dreams!” growled Harrison.

    Weinbaum, S. (1949). A martian odyssey and others. (p. 15). Reading, Pennsylvania: Fantasy Press. Retrieved from

  • Matt L

    Also from Anne Radcliffe’s novel, The Italian, all the way back in 1797:

    “The grand inquisitor demanded when, and where, he had seen it.

    “Last night, and in my prison,” answered Vivaldi.

    “In your prison!” said the ordinary inquisitor, contemptuously, who had before examined him, “and in your dreams, too, no doubt!”” 

    Radcliffe, A. (1797). The italian: Or the confessional of the black penitents. a romance.. London: T. Caddell Jun. & W. Davies.