Brief mention: “You onion-peel so slowly”

Said by character Dani Santino to character Nico Careles in the episode “V3 for Vendetta” (7/17/13) of the cable tv series Necessary Roughness. Taking the two-part back-formation to onion-peel into new, figurative, territory.

We start with the synthetic compound onion-peeling, with onion undersood as the direct object of the verb peel. From that we get the two-part back-formed verb to onion-peel, with the same understanding, as in this cooking tip:

A great way to Onion Peel

Top & tail and then make two small cuts either side. It will then skin easily! If you try to peel with a thin cut down the side you end up loosing to much good onion and fighting to get the skin off. (link)

From that we get to the Necessary Roughness usage, conveying roughly ‘to expose the layers of one’s personality or history’, that is, ‘to reveal facts about oneself’ (in this particular case, Nico had just revealed that he had worked as an FBI agent earlier in his life). So, an intransitive verb, but you can imagine a transitive use (‘to unearth facts about (someone)’), in something like Dani onion-peeled Nico, but I’ve found no examples.

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