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Old September 3rd, 2003, 08:15 AM
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Default Weird Phrases

My mom and I were talking recently about the phrase "hurts like the dickens." Now just what did Charles Dickens do to hurt anybody?!

What are some other weird phrases that puzzle you?

Cheers,
Michelle B.

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Old September 3rd, 2003, 08:31 AM
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Default Re: Weird Phrases

"More bang for the buck"

I've heard it dates back to the days of the brothels in New Orleans, but that is unconfirmed.

Regards,
Thomas
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 08:35 AM
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Default Re: Weird Phrases

My husband, a Brit ,has a favourite phrase for something unusual or rare: "Rare as rocking horse @#$%. (I don't know if I can say the real word, but you get my drift!)

donna

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Old September 3rd, 2003, 08:48 AM
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Default Re: Weird Phrases

My English stepmother, a WW-II RAF veteran, used to say: "I had one until the hind leg fell off." Words to that effect when somone would say something incomprehensible.

RD, we got the drift--and the scent!

Steve


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Old September 3rd, 2003, 09:07 AM
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Default Re: Weird Phrases

I used to hear a variation of Michelle's phrase at home... "hurts like the devil". In curiousity I looked up "dickens" in my old dictionary and came up with this:

dickens, n. devil; deuce (usually preceded by "the"). 1590-1600; apparently a fanciful use of "Dicken", diminutive of "Dick", proper name. Ouch! That hurts like the dickens (or is it the devil or the deuce)!? Interesting!

Jack

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Old September 3rd, 2003, 09:30 AM
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Default Re: Weird Phrases

Where did the phrase "the whole nine yards" come from?

Also, in the restaurant business, when we run out of something, we say "86" the item. Been in this business a long time and no one can tell me what that means or where it came from. Thomas: Do you use this term?
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 09:35 AM
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Default Re: Weird Phrases

Well, there's one in a string title on this board right now. . .

Hump Day.

Now, I know what it means. It means Wednesday, because at the end of the day you're over the hump for the work week.

But I still always do a double take when I read it or see it. . .

"Oh darling, it's hump day!!"

AR
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 09:51 AM
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Default Re: Weird Phrases

There's an interesting British web site called World Wide Words that discusses the origin of obscure words and expressions. There doesn't seem to be a consensus for the whole nine yards, but the one that sounds most plausible to me is
Quote:
it was invented by fighter pilots in the Pacific during World War Two. It is said the .50 calibre machine gun ammunition belts in Supermarine Spitfires measured exactly 27 feet. If the pilots fired all their ammo at a target, they would say that it got ?gthe whole nine yards?h
The explanation for eighty-six is similarly shrouded in obscurity. The site owner's favorite explanation was submitted by one of his readers
Quote:
?gThe term was current in the late 1930s when I was a teenager in New York City. It was supposed to have derived from the street-car line that operated on First Avenue on the East Side of Manhattan. The line ran from 14th Street to 86th Street (both major east-west streets). As a north-bound car came to the last stop, the motorman would call out (usually in a rich brogue), ?gEighty-six! End of the line! All out!?h
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 09:54 AM
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Default Re: Weird Phrases

Come Hell or High Water we will do it.

Ray
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 11:21 AM
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Yes, we use that too. I always thought 86 was known as a file in the military. The trash can file. When someone would ask the boss where to file a piece of paperwork he would tell them "file 86." In other words, throw it away we don't need it anymore.

Here's another: It's raining cats and dogs! If that's ever true I need to get some more Puppy Chow!

Regards,
Thomas
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 11:27 AM
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Default Re: Re: Weird Phrases

Apparently "The Whole Nine Yards" comes from the construction business. A standard concrete truck holds nine cubic yards of concrete. So when you order, you can order a partial load, or "the whole nine yards."

AR
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 12:00 PM
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Default Re: Weird Phrases

This topic fits in with an article I'm writing about our cruise....

What the heck is "well heeled crowd"? <G>

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Old September 3rd, 2003, 12:26 PM
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Default Re: Weird Phrases

Kuki, I think that "well heeled" is in reference to a persons social standing. Where did the phrase "Put it in the circular file" or "It's in the circular file" come from?



Post Edited (09-03-03 12:27)
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 12:37 PM
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Default Re: Weird Phrases

"Well-heeled" harkens to the days when only the wealhty could afford to replace shoes, when needed. If you saw someone who had a fair amount of leather between the soles of their feet and the ground, you knew that person had money.

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Old September 3rd, 2003, 01:01 PM
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Default Re: Weird Phrases

How about "Heavens to Betsy!" Who is Betsy and why do we want her to die and go to heaven?

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Michelle B.

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Old September 3rd, 2003, 01:43 PM
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Default Re: Weird Phrases

"Betsy" is a reference to St. Elizabeth. I don't remember if She's Mary's mother, or cousin.

Steve


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Old September 3rd, 2003, 03:01 PM
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Default Re: Weird Phrases

How about "the whole ball of wax"? I know I am dating myself, but now you have me thinking, which can be a good thing.

J&E

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Old September 3rd, 2003, 05:14 PM
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Default Re: Weird Phrases

There are some dandy books on word/ophrase origins out there.

I have three or four and they are great winter-by-the fireplace or bathroom reading.

I know lots of them from saiing. Three sheets to the wind? The devil to pay?

Would be a great Christmas/holiday gift.

What I dislike is the "slanguage" that purports to get the user past cussing. "Oh, shoort." "Oh, sugar." "Darm." "I hate those flipping [insert hate tagket here.] "It was the worst freakin' date of my life."

You get the picture.

Post Edited (09-03-03 17:29)
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 05:41 PM
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Default Re: Weird Phrases

I don't remember who wrote it, but one of the best books about it is "Mother Tongue."
One of the things explained is why we have "four," and "fourteen," but also "forty." That's just one example.

Supposedly, "kick the bucket" comes from the days when mortuary science consisted mainly of keeping enough ice on hand. The corpse was on a well hidden bed of ice. There were 'weep' holes in the bottom of the coffin and a bucket was underneath, behind the bier bunting to catch the melt. It was considered an omen of impending death if a mourner bumped or in any way spilled the bucket's contents. With etymology, as with other things, you have to wonder just how much is urban legend, or popular folklore.

Steve

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Old September 3rd, 2003, 08:28 PM
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Default Re: Re: Weird Phrases

I had forgotten about this one but heard it on TV and thought of this post.

"Hog-Wash". Who thought of that one. I assume it means bull...
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Old September 6th, 2003, 10:21 AM
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Default Re: Weird Phrases

And in hurricane season ,it may be appropriate to mention "Holy mackerel!." It comes from sporadic "fish" rains, associated with hurricanes and other cyclonic weather. European peasants though it was God delivering manna.

Steve


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