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on Sat Oct 03 2015, 09:01
First topic message reminder :

Scot Free.

Meaning

Without incurring payment; or escaping without punishment.

Could this be the origin

Dred Scott was a black slave born in Virginia, USA in 1799. In several celebrated court cases, right up to the USA Supreme Court in 1857, he attempted to gain his freedom. These cases all failed but Scott was later made a free man by his so-called owners, the Blow family. Knowing this, we might feel that we don't need to look further for the origin of 'scott free'. Many people, especially in the USA, are convinced that the phrase originated with the story of Dred Scott.


Last edited by Admin on Wed Jan 13 2016, 11:11; edited 3 times in total

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on Fri Feb 26 2016, 10:34

It's a quaint English phrase, steeped in tradition, that quintessentially means to do something that makes you look like a jerk .... a veritable 'faux pas' ..... a clanger .....

Expert opinion.
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on Sat Feb 27 2016, 09:48
Butter someone up

Meaning: To impress someone with flattery

Origin: This was a customary religious act in ancient India. The devout would throw butter balls at the statues of their gods to seek favour and forgiveness.
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on Sun Mar 06 2016, 09:17
Paper Tiger

This expression became known in the West as a slogan that Mao's Chinese communist state used against their opponents, particularly the US government. It appears as one of the quotations, or as he preferred to call them 'supreme directives' in the Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong - better known as The Little Red Book, first published in 1964:

"Imperialism and All Reactionaries Are Paper Tigers"

Paper Tiger, Mao didn't coin the phrase; it had been an idiom in the Chinese language for some time. The first time it is recorded in print in English is in Sir John F. Davis' book The Chinese, 1836:

"A blustering, harmless fellow they [the Chinese] call 'a paper tiger'
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on Sun Mar 06 2016, 10:15
"Know your onions"

To be experienced in or knowledgeable about a subject.

There is another Mr. Onions that could be our man. S. G. Onions (they were strong on initials in those days)
created sets of coins which were issued to English schools from 1843 onwards.
These were teaching aids intended to help children learn £.s.d. (pounds, shillings and pence).
If the 'onions' referred to in the phrase is indeed human rather than vegetable, They looked similar
to real coins and had inscriptions like '4 Farthings make 1 Penny' or, as in the example pictured,
'12 Pence make 1 shilling'. We can imagine that 'knowing your Onions' might be coined, so to speak, in those circumstances.
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on Fri Mar 11 2016, 14:39
The female of the species is more deadly than the male

A well-known line from Rudyard Kipling's poem The Female of the Species, 1911:

When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,
He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.
But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.
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on Fri Mar 11 2016, 20:59
More knowledge.  Phrases  their meanings and origins - Page 3 709307421
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on Fri Mar 11 2016, 21:04
This would be heard at Raymyjamie Towers when the Daughter was at home.


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on Thu Mar 17 2016, 15:06
The usual suspects

The people habitually suspected or arrested in response to a crime. The phrase is usually used in regard to scapegoats rather than actual perpetrators of the crime in question.

Origin

The usual suspects This expression has a specific and unambiguous origin. It was spoken by Captain Louis Renault, the French prefect of police, played by Claude Rains in the 1942 U.S. film Casablanca. The context was a scene in which the Nazi, Major Strasser is shot by Humphrey Bogart's character, Rick Blaine. Renault was a witness to the shooting but saves Rick's life by telling the investigating police to "round up the usual suspects". The film then ends with the famous exit line:

"Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
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on Sun Mar 20 2016, 08:57
Many a little makes a mickle


Meaning

Many small amounts accumulate to make a large amount.

Origin

Many a little makes a mickleA mickle, or as they prefer it in Scotland, a muckle, means 'great or large in size'. Apart from 'many a little (or pickle) makes a mickle' the words only now remain in use in UK place-names, like Muckle Flugga in Shetland (which amply lives up to its translated name of 'large, steep-sided island') and Mickleover in Derbyshire (listed in the Domesday Book as Magna Oufra - 'large village on the hill'). 'Over' and 'upper' are very common prefixes in English place-names, along with their opposites 'under', 'lower', 'nether' or 'little'. Examples of these are the Cotswold villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter, and the Hampshire villages of Over and Nether Wallop. The word 'much' derives from the Old English 'mickle' and has now almost entirely replaced it. 'Much' is also used in place-names like Much Wenlock, Shropshire (there's also a Little Wenlock, of course).

The proverbial phrase 'many a little makes a mickle' has now itself been largely superseded by the 18th century 'look after the pennies (originally, 'take care of the pence'), and the pounds will look after ('take care of') themselves'.
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on Wed Mar 23 2016, 11:15
Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog


The archetypal recipe for spells and enchantments.



This is the well-known incantation of the Three Witches in Shakespeare's Macbeth, 1605:

All:
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Second Witch:
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Portrait of William ShakespeareWe now see the three witches' brew as a hocus-pocus spell, much imitated by spoof witches in comedies and hardly to be taken seriously. In Shakespeare's day the effect would have been rather different and he could have expected a significant proportion of the audience to have taken the magic potion storyline literally.
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on Wed Mar 23 2016, 17:06
Fartin through silk.

When a man of substantial means proposes and he needs to sweeten the pot somewhat.
It's preceded by 'Marry me babe and you'll be....'

Self explanatory but origin unknown.
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on Mon Apr 04 2016, 10:29
Meaning

A self-perpetuating process which returns to its starting point with no improvement from when it was begun.

Origin

A vicious circle was the name given by 18th century logicians for a fallacious proof in this form:

A depends on B
B depends on C
C depends on A

This was alluded to in Edition 3 of The Encyclopedia Britannica, in 1792:

"He runs into what is termed by logicians a vicious circle."

A wider use of the expression was taken up by the medical profession and there are several examples from the early 19th century of it being used to describe conditions where one symptom affects another and the health of the patient steadily deteriorates.

The more general meaning of the phrase refers to any process where one event feeds off another but which seems trapped in a loop and eventually returns to its starting point, with no benefit gained. This imagery was employed in the 18th and 19th centuries to denote the circle of life and death. The emblem of a snake eating its own tail was commonly used in the iconography of Georgian and Victorian cemeteries - as in this example from Sheffield's General Cemetery.


 Phrases  their meanings and origins - Page 3 Vicious-circle
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on Thu Apr 14 2016, 15:27
Fine words butter no parsnips

Meaning

Nothing is achieved by empty words or flattery.


This proverbial saying is English and dates from the 17th century. It expresses the notion that fine words count for nothing and that action means more than flattery or promises. You aren't very likely to come across 'fine words butter no parsnips' as 20th century street slang - you are more liable to hear it in a period costume drama.

Fine words butter no parsnips. Potatoes were imported into Britain from America by John Hawkins in the mid 16th century and became a staple in what established itself as the national dish - meat and two veg. Before that, various root vegetables were eaten instead, often mashed and, as anyone who has eaten mashed swedes, turnips or parsnips can testify, they cry out to be 'buttered-up' - another term for flattery. Indeed, the English were known for their habit of layering on butter to all manner of foods, much to the disgust of the French who used it as evidence of the English lack of expertise regarding cuisine and to the Japanese, who referred to Europeans in general and the English in particular as 'butter-stinkers'.
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on Thu Apr 14 2016, 20:44
I know its not a phrase but nevertheless its a nice word:
gongoozle (to stare idly at a watercourse and do nothing)
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on Sun Apr 17 2016, 09:40
Keep your powder dry

Meaning

Be prepared and save your resources until they are needed.

Origin

The allusion is to gunpowder which soldiers had to keep dry in order to be ready to fight when required. This advice reputedly originated with Oliver Cromwell during his campaign in Ireland. In Ballads of Ireland, 1856, Edward Hayes wrote:

"There is a well-authenticated anecdote of Cromwell. On a certain occasion, when his troops were about crossing a river to attack the enemy, he concluded an address, couched in the usual fanatic terms in use among them, with these words - 'put your trust in God; but mind to keep your powder dry'."

19th century citations of the phrase invariably give the full version - trust in God and keep your powder dry. This emphasizes that the keep your powder dry was seen only as an additional insurance. This is made clear in a piece from The Times Literary Supplement, 1908:

"In thus keeping his powder dry the bishop acted most wisely, though he himself ascribes the happy result entirely to observance of the other half of Cromwell's maxim."
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on Sun Apr 24 2016, 09:21


Horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse


One of Shakespeare's best known lines. The quotation is sometimes now repeated ironically when someone is is need of some unimportant item.

Origin

From Shakespeare's Richard III, 1594:

CATESBY:
Rescue, my Lord of Norfolk, rescue, rescue!
The king enacts more wonders than a man,
Daring an opposite to every danger:
His horse is slain, and all on foot he fights,
Seeking for Richmond in the throat of death.
Rescue, fair lord, or else the day is lost!

KING RICHARD III:
A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!

CATESBY:
Withdraw, my lord; I'll help you to a horse.
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on Sun Apr 24 2016, 10:28
"All things must pass"

Meaning

Nothing lasts forever.

Origin
From the Bible, Matthew 24:6-8
And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
All these are the beginning of sorrows.

George Harrison used the phrase for the title of his successful 1970 triple album.
The graphics from the subsequent CD release convey the phrase's meaning.

 Phrases  their meanings and origins - Page 3 Pass-1

 Phrases  their meanings and origins - Page 3 Pass-2

 Phrases  their meanings and origins - Page 3 Pass-3

 Phrases  their meanings and origins - Page 3 Pass-4




Sunrise doesn't last all morning
A cloudburst doesn't last all day
Seems my love is up and has left you with no warning
It's not always going to be this grey

All things must pass
All things must pass away

Sunset doesn't last all evening
A mind can blow those clouds away
After all this, my love is up and must be leaving
It's not always going to be this grey

All things must pass
All things must pass away
All things must pass
None of life's strings can last
So, I must be on my way
And face another day

Now the darkness only stays the night-time
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good at arriving at the right time
It's not always going to be this grey

All things must pass
All things must pass away
All things must pass
All things must pass away
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on Thu Apr 28 2016, 09:30
Jump on the bandwagon

Meaning

Join a growing movement in support of someone or something, often in an opportunist way, when that movement is seen to have become successful.

The word bandwagon was coined in the USA in the mid 19th century, simply as the name for the wagon that carried a circus band. Phineas T. Barnum, the great showman and circus owner, used the term in 1855 in his unambiguously named autobiography The Life of P.T. Barnum, Written by Himself, 1855:

"At Vicksburg we sold all our land conveyances excepting four horses and the 'band wagon'."


Circus workers were skilled at attracting the public with the razzmatazz of a parade through town, complete with highly decorated bandwagons. In the late 19th century, US politicians picked up on this form of attracting a crowd and began using bandwagons when campaigning for office.
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on Fri Apr 29 2016, 13:07
Another "Wagon" phrase.

"On the wagon"

"To abstain from drinking alcohol"

A There are several stories about its origin. Perhaps the most common one says it derives from prisoners who were on their way to jail on the back of a wagon.
They were allowed one last drink in the local pub before the enforced temperance inside.

A variation refers to condemned prisoners on the way from Newgate Prison to be hanged at Tyburn being allowed to stop at a hostelry
to have a last drink before being put back on the wagon for the final part of their journey to execution.
       
A young American was a little nearer when he wrote that, ‘My teacher says it was during the temperance movement when men would parade
around town on a wagon to show they’ve conquered their demons’.

Since the Salvation Army is very keen on temperance, it isn’t surprising that the phrase has several times been attributed to them.
An American Sally Army Web site says firmly that: “Former National Commander Evangeline Booth — founder William Booth’s daughter —
drove a hay wagon through the streets of New York to encourage alcoholics on board for a ride back

to The Salvation Army. Hence, alcoholics in recovery were said to be ‘on the wagon’”.
The source seems impeccable, but the Sally Army is, alas, perpetrating another version of the same folk etymology.

However, the saying is indeed originally American and it is associated with wagons, of a sort. The original form,
which dates from the early years of the twentieth century, was to be on the water-wagon,
implying that the speaker was drinking water rather than alcohol and so was an abstainer, at least for the time being.
The image of the horse-drawn water-wagon would ave been an obvious one at the time — it was used to spray unpaved American streets
in the dry summer months to dampen down dust thrown up by the traffic.
A direct link with the temperance movement — very active at the time — would seem probable.




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on Fri Apr 29 2016, 15:00
Lessons have bean learned


Meaning

If anybody opens their trap and drops us in it the heavies will be sent in
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on Fri Apr 29 2016, 15:03
Is that one of Aesop's? affraid
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on Fri Apr 29 2016, 15:04
No the establishment
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on Sun May 01 2016, 12:47
Like the sound of ones own voice

To like the sound of one's own voice means someone who likes to make long speeches - who is thus perhaps a bit too self-important/ thinks too highly of their own cleverness etc.
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on Sun May 01 2016, 12:52
@Admin wrote:The female of the species is more deadly than the male.

you got that right Very Happy

Nothing worse than an angry woman....
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on Sun May 01 2016, 16:21
You can say that again, I say, you can....... Shocked Shocked Shocked
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