Punch and Judy. The name of Mr. Punch, the hero of the puppet play, probably comes from Italian pulcinello, a diminutive of pulcino, a young chicken. His identification with Pontius Pilate and of Judy with JUDAS ISCARIOT is imaginary. The story roughly in its present form is attributed to an Italian comedian, Silvio Fiorillo (fl.1600), and it appeared in England about the time of the RESTORATION. Punch, in a fit of jealousy, strangles his infant child, whereupon his wife Judy belabours him with a bludgeon until he retaliates and beats her to death. He flings both bodies into the street, but is arrested and shut in prison whence he escapes by means of a golden key. The rest is an allegory showing how the light-hearted Punch triumphs over (1) Ennui, in the shape of a dog, (2) Disease, in the disguise of a doctor, (3) Death, who is beaten to death, and (4) the Devil himself, who is outwitted. In subsequent English versions JACK KETCH, instead of hanging Punch, gets hanged himself.
The satirical humorous weekly paper, Punch, or The London Charivari, was named after Mr Punch, who naturally featured prominently on the cover design for very many issues. It first appeared in July 1841 under the editorship of Mark Lemon (1809~70) and Henry Mayhew (1812~87). Its falling circulation led to its closure in 1992 but it was relented in 1996.
Punch drunk, to be. To experience a form of concussion to which boxers are liable, causing unsteadiness of gait resembling drunkenness, used figuratively of someone 'reeling from heavy punishment'.
Punch line. A vivid, often surprising climax to an anecdote, joke, story or the like, which gives point to all that has gone before. The figurative 'punch' suggests that the listener is struck by this line.
As pleased as Punch. See under AS,
Devil's Punch Bowl. See under DEVIL,
Pinch and a punch for the first of the month, A. See under PINCH,
Pull one's punches, To. See under PULL.