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Expressions and there origins

Discussion in 'Off Topic Threads' started by short shucker, Jan 24, 2011.

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  1. short shucker

    short shucker TS Member

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    Expression Origins In George Washington's days, there were no cameras. One's image was either sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington showed him standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others showed both legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not based on how many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted. Arms and legs are 'limbs,' therefore painting them would cost the buyer more. Hence the expression, 'Okay, but it'll cost you an arm and a leg.' (Artists know hands and arms are more difficult to paint)

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    As incredible as it sounds, men and women took baths only twice a year (May and October) Women kept their hair covered, while men shaved their heads (because of lice and bugs) and wore wigs. Wealthy men could afford good wigs made from wool. They couldn't wash the wigs, so to clean them they would carve out a loaf of bread, put the wig in the shell, and bake it for 30 minutes. The heat would make the wig big and fluffy, hence the term 'big wig.' Today we often use the term 'here comes the Big Wig' because someone appears to be or is powerful and wealthy.

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    In the late 1700's, many houses consisted of a large room with only one chair. Commonly, a long wide board folded down from the wall, and was used for dining. The 'head of the household' always sat in the chair while everyone else ate sitting on the floor. Occasionally a guest, who was usually a man, would be invited to sit in this chair during a meal. To sit in the chair meant you were important and in charge. They called the one sitting in the chair the 'chair man.' Today in business, we use the expression or title 'Chairman' or 'Chairman of the Board..'

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    Personal hygiene left much room for improvement. As a result, many women and men had developed acne scars by adulthood. The women would spread bee's wax over their facial skin to smooth out their complexions. When they were speaking to each other, if a woman began to stare at another woman's face she was told, 'mind your own bee's wax.' Should the woman smile, the wax would crack, hence the term 'crack a smile'. In addition, when they sat too close to the fire, the wax would melt . . . Therefore, the expression 'losing face.'

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    Ladies wore corsets, which would lace up in the front. A proper and dignified woman, as in 'straight laced'. . Wore a tightly tied lace. ******* Common entertainment included playing cards. However, there was a tax levied when purchasing playing cards but only applicable to the 'Ace of Spades.' To avoid paying the tax, people would purchase 51 cards instead. Yet, since most games require 52 cards, these people were thought to be stupid or dumb because they weren't 'playing with a full deck.'

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    Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what the people considered important. Since there were no telephones, TV's or radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs, and bars. They were told to 'go sip some ale' and listen to people's conversations and political concerns.. Many assistants were dispatched at different times. 'You go sip here' and 'You go sip there.' The two words 'go sip' were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and, thus we have the term 'gossip.'

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    At local taverns, pubs, and bars, people drank from pint and quart-sized containers. A bar maid's job was to keep an eye on the customers and keep the drinks coming. She had to pay close attention and remember who was drinking in 'pints' and who was drinking in 'quarts,' hence the term minding your 'P's and 'Q's

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    One more and betting you didn't know this! In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon. However, how to prevent them from rolling about the deck? The best storage method devised was a square-based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one problem...how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a 'Monkey' with 16 round indentations. However, if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make 'Brass Monkeys.' Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannonballs would come right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally, 'Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.' (All this time, you thought that was an improper expression, didn't you.)

    ss
     
  2. Trap2

    Trap2 Well-Known Member

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    I read the following somewhere: In WWII, the tail gunners and belly gunners on B-17's were each supplied with a belt of ammunition that was 27' long. When asked by the pilot after a mission if they used up all their ammo, they would reply, "Yes sir, used up the "WHOLE NINE YARDS"..... Dan Thome (Trap2)
     
  3. loop02

    loop02 Member

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    27 feet was all they could fit in the Cupola in the belly gun on a B-17. It was loaded from outside while the plane was on the ground. It was all he had. When they returned, they were asked, how was it up there today? The reply was," we gave them the whole 9 yards". That indicated they had had a bad time of it and used up all their ammo. That is where the expression "the whole 9 yards" originated. You are right, Dan, I heard the same thing as to where that saying came from.
     
  4. neofight

    neofight TS Member

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    I believe the origins of the saying:"cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey" have been de-bunked, so what are the true origins? Mt dad told me many times:"son, get your ass behind you". I never quite understood his meaning.
     
  5. Dahaub

    Dahaub Active Member

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    Those were informative. You did leave out the one about the "thresholds" We all know what the threshold on a door is but it came about being used as a word when the cabins and houses had dirt floors and the folks would put a layer of straw or thresh in the house. When it was walked on it tended to stick to the feet and clothing of the person moving about. The homeowners would put a board against the door entrance to hold in the thresh. Thus the word.

    There are more of these, one about the term "Raining cats and dogs". Most houses roofs in feudal times were made of sticks piled high and in a steep pitch to the walls. When it rained the water would run down the sides of the sticks and hopefully would reach the bottom of the roof before it fell on thru to wet the inside of the hut. The huts were not very high on the sidewalls and the farm dogs and cats would often nest in those sticks and make their beds there. When it was a heck of a rain the water would go into the thatch to great depths and soak clear thru. The thatch would be slick with dust and water and the cats and dogs would sometimes in trying to get a grip on the thatch move about and break thru and fall to the floors of the hut. Thus the term raining cats and dogs. Dan
     
  6. recurvyarcher

    recurvyarcher Well-Known Member

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    Here is a fun website with these phrases and more, all coined in America.
     
  7. Shooting Jack

    Shooting Jack Active Member

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    Neofight, the way it was explained to me was an ass or donkey is a dumb animal and it might indicate how smart or dumb you may be if the donkey was leading you. After a dumb decision or stunt I've heard the term, get your ass behind you. LOL Jackie B.
     
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