What is the significance and origin of the term "Old sport"? Is it British or Australian?

Expert Answers
kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The earliest use of the phrase "old sport" identified by this educator was in Chapter 20 of the late British humorist P.G. Wodehouse's (1881-1975) 1907 book Right Ho, Jeeves, in which a character utters the phrase, "Not yet quite so quick, my old sport. It is by no means all right."  The origin of the phrase is almost certainly British, but would find its most prominent usage in F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic The Great Gatsby.  Fitzgerald's mysterious millionaire, the former James Gatz, has engaged in unscrupulous activities for the purpose of attaining the wealth necessary to pursue his main obsession, Daisy Buchanan. As Fitzgerald reveals in his novel, Gatz has created a false persona, one of intrigue and material wealth.  In order to ingratiate himself into a world of prominence and affluence to which he does not belong, however, he has taken to addressing other men as "old sport."  When Fitzgerald's protagonist and narrator, Nick Carraway, encounters and is befriended by his new neighbor, Jay Gatsby, the latter regularly addresses Nick as "old sport," suggesting a familiarity that does not exist.