From the song Istanbul (Not Constantinople):

So take me back to Constantinople
No, you can't go back to Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Why did Constantinople get the works?
That's nobody's business but the Turks

What do they mean by get the works?


1 Answer 1


The works is a colloquial expression meaning the entirety of something: a hamburger with the works, for instance, is a hamburger with all available condiments and relishes.

To "get the works" is typically employed with legal sentences: to be sentenced to the most severe punishment permitted. This expression corresponds to "give [someone] the works", to deal out the most severe punishment permitted.

The name "Constantinople" got the works: it received an onomastic death penalty, being completely replaced by the Turkish derivative, "Istanbul".

  • There is an apocryphal story that the turkish derivative is of Greek origin. The aproaching Turks asked a Greek peasant where the road led, and he said "εἰς τὴν Πόλιν" (eis tin bolin), which means "into the city".
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 17:25
  • Heh! It's only apocryphal if you ask the Turks! Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 18:01

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