Would you like to react to this message? Create an account in a few clicks or log in to continue.

Go down
Admin
Admin
Admin
Posts : 48085
Join date : 2013-12-04

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Phrases their meanings and origins

on Sat Oct 03 2015, 09:01
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
Admin
Admin
Admin
Posts : 48085
Join date : 2013-12-04

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Fri Oct 09 2015, 11:01
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

Meaning

A small amount of knowledge can mislead people into thinking that they are more expert than they really are.


avatar
Guest
Guest

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Fri Oct 09 2015, 11:07
Embarassed


Last edited by mache on Fri Oct 09 2015, 11:11; edited 1 time in total
Admin
Admin
Admin
Posts : 48085
Join date : 2013-12-04

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Fri Oct 09 2015, 11:09
The first one is dated 3rd oct Very Happy
avatar
Guest
Guest

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Fri Oct 09 2015, 11:12
I shall reply next week



P.S. edited Embarassed
Admin
Admin
Admin
Posts : 48085
Join date : 2013-12-04

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Tue Oct 27 2015, 13:00
"Have a decko"

.'Dekho' is a Hindi word meaning 'look'. The expression first began to be used by the British in India in the middle of the 19th century and soon migrated back home with soldiers on leave. The phrase was originally 'have a deck', which derived in the same way but which has now gone out of use. 'Have a dekko' is first found in print in January 1856 in an appropriate place - Allen's Indian Mail, a newspaper devoted to news of India and China aimed at the families of servicemen stationed there:
avatar
Guest
Guest

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Tue Oct 27 2015, 13:03
You missed two weeks Razz
Admin
Admin
Admin
Posts : 48085
Join date : 2013-12-04

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Tue Oct 27 2015, 13:03
I was away Very Happy
avatar
Guest
Guest

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Tue Oct 27 2015, 13:08
Aye, well away
Admin
Admin
Admin
Posts : 48085
Join date : 2013-12-04

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Mon Nov 02 2015, 09:48
Close But No Cigar


Coming close to a successful outcome only to fall short at the end.


The phrase, and its variant 'nice try, but no cigar', are of US origin and date from the mid-20th century. Fairground stalls gave out cigars as prizes, and this is the most likely source, although there's no definitive evidence to prove that.

It is first recorded in print in Sayre and Twist's publishing of the script of the 1935 film version of Annie Oakley:
Corky Ringspot
Corky Ringspot
Posts : 55115
Join date : 2013-12-04
Location : Up a nick in Russia

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Mon Nov 02 2015, 12:10
Opinions vary


affraid affraid affraid
Admin
Admin
Admin
Posts : 48085
Join date : 2013-12-04

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Sun Nov 15 2015, 10:02
Tickle the Ivories

Play the piano.

Origin

tickle the ivoriesThis colloquial expression derives from the fact that the white keys of piano keyboards used always to be veneered with ivory, and a few still are.

'Tickle the ivories' isn't an old expression and dates from the early 20th century. 'Tickling' had long been used to describe playing musical instruments before that term was coined; for example:


tickle the ivoriesThe first person to 'tickle the ivories' was very likely to have been American. as the expression appears there in print long before it is seen anywhere else and is, in all probability, of US origin. The earliest citation of it that I have found is from the Fort Wayne News, January 1906, in a piece titled "He can choke a wolf or play the piano". This bit of nonsense praises the exploits of a Colonel John Abernathy and, to emphasize their point, they helpfully provide an etching of the good Colonel engaged in both activities.


"Col. Abernathy can pull a gun as quickly as any man in the territory. He is a man of action, such as the president admires. He has long sinewy fingers over which he has admirable control. He can 'tickle the Ivories' with the best of them - an accomplishment seldom achieved by an ex-cow puncher and bronco buster, and on occasions those same long fingers can wring the last howl from a prairie wolf's throat."
Admin
Admin
Admin
Posts : 48085
Join date : 2013-12-04

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Mon Nov 23 2015, 09:59
A feather in one's cap


A symbol of honour and achievement.




The placing of a feather in a hat has been a symbol of achievement that has arisen in several cultures, apparently independently. The English writer and traveller Richard Hansard recorded it in his Description of Hungary, 1599:


"It hath been an antient custom among them [Hungarians] that none should wear a fether but he who had killed a Turk, to whom onlie yt was lawful to shew the number of his slaine enemys by the number of fethers in his cappe."

feather in his capThe Native American tradition of adding a feather to the head-dress of any warrior who performed a brave act is well known.

The figurative use of the phrase 'a feather in his hat' was in use in the UK by the 18th century; for example, in a letter from the Duchess of Portland to a Miss Collingwood, in 1734:


"My Lord ... esteems it a feather in his hat, that ..."

The children's rhyme Yankee Doodle is the best known use of the phrase.


Yankee Doodle went to town,
Riding on a pony;
He stuck a feather in his cap,
And called it macaroni.

There are many version of the lyric. It has been suggested that this version originated with the British forces in the American War of Independence, in an attempt to mock the revolutionary militia. 'Doodle' was 18th century British slang for simpleton (a.k.a. noodle) and 'macaroni' was slang for a dandy or fop. The latter originated with the Macaroni Club, a group of London aesthetes who were anxious to establish their sophistication by demonstrating a preference for foreign cuisine. The thinking behind the theory is that the Yankees were so stupid as to believe that putting a feather in one's cap would make them appear fashionable.
avatar
Guest
Guest

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Mon Nov 23 2015, 10:27
So it is!
Admin
Admin
Admin
Posts : 48085
Join date : 2013-12-04

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Wed Dec 09 2015, 09:10
Bats in the belfry

Crazy; eccentric.

Origin

Bats in the belfry Bats are, of course, the erratically flying mammals and 'belfries' are bell towers, sometimes found at the top of churches. 'Bats in the belfry' refers to someone who acts as though he has bats careering around his topmost part, that is, his head.

Link
Admin
Admin
Admin
Posts : 48085
Join date : 2013-12-04

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Sat Dec 12 2015, 15:31
Make a clean breast of it

Meaning

To make a full disclosure; to confess.


The Oxford English Dictionary defines the noun breast as 'the two soft protuberances situated on the thorax in females'. The meaning used in 'make a clean breast of it' is an earlier and less literal one. The 'breast' there is the seat of the one's emotions and secrets; one's 'heart'. To disclose this openly was to clean one's heart of impurity. Any mention of breasts now is likely to be a reference to the 'soft protuberances' - we are more liable these days to 'get something off our chest'.

'Make a clean breast of it' is known since the 18th century and is cited by Cameron in The Scots Magazine, 1752:

"He pressed him... to make a clean breast, and tell him all."
Admin
Admin
Admin
Posts : 48085
Join date : 2013-12-04

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Sun Dec 27 2015, 09:37

'Its raining cats and dogs

It is raining torrentially.
The first known record of this phrase is in Dean Jonathan Swift's "Polite Conversation" (1873). But it is questionably whether he originated this peculiar hyperbole. More than two centuries previously, Richard Brome write a play entitled "The City Witt" (c.1652) in which one of the characters, Sarpego, says:

From henceforth...
The world shall flow with dunces...
And it shall rain...
Dogs and Polecats, and so forth.
Admin
Admin
Admin
Posts : 48085
Join date : 2013-12-04

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Sat Jan 02 2016, 09:52
The chickens come home to roost


Bad deeds or words return to discomfort their perpetrator.

Origin

The notion of bad deeds, specifically curses, coming back to haunt their originator is long established in the English language and was expressed in print as early as 1390, when Geoffrey Chaucer used it in The Parson's Tale:

And ofte tyme swich cursynge wrongfully retorneth agayn to hym that curseth, as a bryd that retorneth agayn to his owene nest.

The allusion that was usually made was to a bird returning to its nest at nightfall, which would have been a familiar one to a medieval audience. Other allusions to unwelcome returns were also made, as in the Elizabethan play The lamentable and true tragedie of Arden of Feversham, 1592:

For curses are like arrowes shot upright, Which falling down light on the suters [shooter's] head.

Chickens didn't enter the scene until the 19th century when a fuller version of the phrase was used as a motto on the title page of Robert Southey's poem The Curse of Kehama, 1810:

"Curses are like young chicken: they always come home to roost."

This extended version is still in use, notably in the USA.

The notion of the evil that men create returns to their own door also exists in other cultures. Buddhists are familiar with the idea that one is punished by one's bad deeds, not because of them. Samuel Taylor Coleridge revived the imagery of a bird returning to punish a bad deed in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, 1798. In the poem the eponymous mariner kills an albatross, which was regarded as an omen of good luck, and is punished by his shipmates by having the bird hung around his neck:

Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.
Admin
Admin
Admin
Posts : 48085
Join date : 2013-12-04

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Thu Jan 07 2016, 10:12
Daft as a Brush

Very foolish.


On the face of it, brushes wouldn't seem to be any more daft than anything else. As the source of the expression isn't obvious, various suggestions have been put forward as to what form of brush is being referred to; for instance:

- The phrase originated as 'as soft as a brush' and the brush is the tail of a fox. This is plausible in that 'soft' is a northern English term for stupid, and foxes tails are in fact quite soft to the touch.

- The brushes in the expression are the boys that were employed in the 18th/19th centuries to climb inside chimneys to sweep them. The theory here, which is somewhat less plausible, is that the boys were made into idiots by being repeatedly dropped on their heads when being lowered down the chimneys.

Nevertheless, as we shall see, the 'brush' in this simile is neither of these; it is, as the dictionary would have it "A utensil consisting of a piece of wood or other suitable material, set with small tufts or bunches of bristles, hair, or the like, for sweeping or scrubbing dust and dirt from a surface", that is - a brush. Are brushes daft? Not particularly, but then again I've never had a sensible conversation with one.

Cadfael
Cadfael
Posts : 1743
Join date : 2014-06-20

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Thu Jan 07 2016, 11:50
Scot Free is an Old English term meaning 'free from tax'. Very Happy
Admin
Admin
Admin
Posts : 48085
Join date : 2013-12-04

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Sun Jan 10 2016, 09:09

Elvis has left the building

Meaning

The show is over - go home.


Elvis has left the buildingThis was announced at the end of Elvis Presley's concerts to encourage fans to accept that there would be no further encores and to go home. It is now used more widely to indicate that someone has made an exit or that something is complete.

Oddly, although the phrase was routinely used to encourage the audience to leave, the first time that it was announced it was to encourage them to stay in their seats. That first use was in December 1956 by Horace Logan, who was the announcer at the Louisiana Hayride show, in which Elvis was a regular performer. Presley had very quickly become very popular with teenagers but had previously taken a regular lowly spot at the Hayride, which was his first big break. He was on the bill quite early in proceedings but after his performance was over and the encore complete, the crowd of teenagers, who weren't Hillbilly enthusiasts, began to leave. Logan announced:

"Please, young people ... Elvis has left the building. He has gotten in his car and driven away ... Please take your seats"

Al Dvorin was the regular stage announcer for Elvis Presley during the 1970s. He picked up the phrase and his version can be heard on several live recordings:

"Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building. Thank you and goodnight."

The use of this term and the fact that Elvis is probably the most prominent celebrity to be known (despite claims to the contrary) to be unambiguously dead, have given rise to the verb 'to Elvis', that is, to make a sudden exit.

The Kelsey Grammar sitcom 'Frasier' used a play on the line at the end of each show - "Frasier has left the building."
avatar
Guest
Guest

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Sun Jan 10 2016, 11:43
"The Elephant in the room"

An metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed.

The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss.

It is based on the idea that an elephant in a room would be impossible to overlook.

I think they use this on TV prog "QI".

I was curious as to exact meaning.

More knowledge.
Ragbru
Ragbru
Posts : 7756
Join date : 2013-12-06
Location : In a land full of pretentious buffoons.(I live alone)

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Sun Jan 10 2016, 14:59
I always thought that 'Scot Free' was a reference to the 'Reivers', who were beyond the reach of English law, once they have crossed the border, they have escaped Scot Free!


On this day, 49 BC, Gaius Julius Caesar crossed The Rubicon, initiating Coup d'├ętat that established him as dictator, and overthrew the cherished Republic of Rome.

Excuse then for one of his quotes:


"Men in general are quick to believe that which they wish to be true."


And exemplified par excellence, in the fictions perpetrated with respect to the E.U . debate.
Admin
Admin
Admin
Posts : 48085
Join date : 2013-12-04

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Tue Jan 12 2016, 09:56
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
Admin
Admin
Admin
Posts : 48085
Join date : 2013-12-04

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

on Wed Jan 13 2016, 11:03
Grist to the Mill

Meaning

All things are a potential source of profit or advantage.

Grist to the mill. Grist is the corn that is brought to a mill to be ground into flour. In the days when farmers took 'grist to the mill' the phrase would have been used literally to denote produce that was a source of profit.

An early figurative use of phrase is found in Arthur Golding's translation of The Sermons of J. Calvin upon Deuteronomie, 1583:


"There is no lykelihoode that those thinges will bring gryst to the mill."

There are many grist mills still in existence and they would have specialised in whatever type of cereal was commonplace in their location - wheat, buckwheat, oats, corn etc. The association between grist and mills is clear and it was also listed as proverbial in William Camden's Remaines of a Greater Worke Concerning Britaine, 1605:


The horse that is next the mill, carries all the grist.

Grist is usually referred to as unground corn. When the phrase was coined, in the UK in the middle ages, corn would have meant wheat, as opposed to what is called corn in many other parts of the world, which is known as maize in the UK.

Oats that have been husked but not ground are known as grit. This is the source of the name the thick maize-based porridge that is widely available in the southern states of the USA - 'grits'. There is clearly both a linguistic and culinary connection between grist and grits, although not as straightforward a one as a simple spelling mistake - they both derive from the verb 'grind'.

'Grist to the mill' is still used, although less commonly than when I was a lad in the 1960s. Were he alive to see it, this would give some satisfaction to George Orwell, who dismissed the phrase as 'a dying metaphor' in his essay Politics and the English Language, 1946:
Sponsored content

 Phrases  their meanings and origins Empty Re: Phrases their meanings and origins

Back to top
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum