Download 2107 Curious Word Origins, Sayings and Expressions from by Charles Earle Funk, Tom Funk PDF

By Charles Earle Funk, Tom Funk

Why do humans "take forty winks" and never 50...or 60, or 70? Did a person actually "let the cat out of the bag" at one cut-off date? Has an individual really "gone on a wild goose chase"? discover the solutions to those questions and plenty of extra during this huge, immense assortment, made out of 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 general Dictionary sequence, unearths the occasionally spectacular, frequently a laugh, and continually interesting roots of greater than 2,000 vernacular phrases and expressions. From "kangaroo court docket" to "one-horse town", from "face the track" to "hocus-pocus," it truly is an enjoyable linguistic trip.

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

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This latter wording appears to have been the original form of the expression; but, through careless use or faulty hearing, this became corrupted into the only form heard today, "within an ace of," though both wordings were in use in the seventeenth century. to fly the coop This is American slang, apparently twentieth century, though it is likely that it was criminal cant originally and may date back to the nineteenth century. "Coop" is slang for prison, jail; the original meaning was, there­ fore, to escape from prison.

The usual phrase of that period was to pin (a thing) upon one's sleeve. Shakespeare uses this in Love's Labor's Lost, where Biron, speaking of Boyet, says, "This gallant pins the wenches on his sleeve," meaning that Boyet is openly devoted to all wenches. to know beans This is usually in the negative; one who doesn't know beans is appallingly ignorant or is wholly unacquainted with the subject under discussion. It is likely that the expression arose from some story that went the rounds in America early in the nineteenth cen­ tury, but, if so, the story has been lost.

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.

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