Read e-book online 2107 Curious Word Origins, Sayings and Expressions from PDF

By Charles Earle Funk, Tom Funk

ISBN-10: 0883658453

ISBN-13: 9780883658451

Why do humans "take forty winks" and never 50...or 60, or 70? Did somebody actually "let the cat out of the bag" at one cut-off date? Has someone truly "gone on a wild goose chase"? discover the solutions to those questions and lots of extra during this huge, immense assortment, constructed from 4 bestselling titles: A Hog on Ice, Thereby Hangs a story, Heavens to Betsy! and Horsefeathers and different Curious phrases. Dr. Funk, editor-in-chief of the Funk & Wagnalls usual Dictionary sequence, finds the occasionally staggering, usually fun, and continually attention-grabbing roots of greater than 2,000 vernacular phrases and expressions. From "kangaroo court docket" to "one-horse town", from "face the tune" to "hocus-pocus," it really is an unique linguistic trip.

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Extra resources for 2107 Curious Word Origins, Sayings and Expressions from White Elephants to a Song & Dance

Sample text

The expression had only a religious use until about the seventeenth century. a big shot A person of importance. This slang use is quite recent, developed within the current century, but it is a lineal descendant of "a big gun," dating from the middle of the last century, and which in 48 turn sprang from the union of "a great gun" and "a big bug" of the early nineteenth century. the lion's share Why this always means the greater part in any allotment, espe­ cially the part that one gives to the "boss" or that, in serving the dessert, mother apportions to father, takes us back to one of Aesop's fables.

After such a purchase, the matron of the house, chided for a purchase of her own, was alleged to "turn the tables" by reminding her spouse of his extravagance. Marital customs of Roman days were not unlike the present, so it is not unlikely that the matrons did thus defend themselves, but evidence is lacking that our meta­ phor had such an origin. to keep the pot boiling Even among the ancients the container often signified the thing contained; the Romans used oUa, pot, many times instead of the meat within the pot, and so did our own forbears.

The expression, therefore, was originally never applied to a man, but when the literal meaning of the words became dimmed, either a man or a woman was said to don his best bib and tucker when he dressed up for some momentous occaSIOn. to steer (or sail) between Scylla and Charybdis To steer a mid-course between perils. Scylla, according to Homer's Odyssey, was a fearful monster that dwelt in a cavern on the face of a high cliff that overlooked a narrow channel of the sea. She had six heads, each on a long neck, and from every ship that passed each mouth seized a sailor.

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2107 Curious Word Origins, Sayings and Expressions from White Elephants to a Song & Dance by Charles Earle Funk, Tom Funk

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