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Showing posts from May, 2017

Cold Turkey

In the state of drug withdrawal the addict's blood is directed to the internal organs, leaving the skin white and with goose bumps. It has been suggested that this is what is alluded to by 'cold turkey'. There's no evidence to support that view. So read about the other theories as to the origin of this phrase here
Apparently cold turkey started off as "talking cold turkey" - which I have never heard of, you? And it meant, or means, talking plainly. But nobody knows why a turkey is a metaphor for talking. ???
So it seems this idiom is a bit of a mystery in origin and purpose. When it is used today it is to indicate someone coming off of an addictive substance or habit. 

Bite the bullet

A 1796 publication titled A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by Francis Grose was a book of slang terms for the day and in it appeared the phrase bite the bullet.  Nightingale. A soldier who, as the term is, sings out at the halberts. It is a point of honour in some regiments, among the grenadiers, never to cry out, or become nightingales, whilst under the discipline of the cat of nine tails; to avoid which, they chew a bullet. But there are other theories, perhaps ones you have heard before, and you can read about them here
These days when we say bite the bullet we are saying that we or someone else needs to fortify self and prepare for the impending difficulty or pain that is coming. 

The proof is in the pudding

There are a few different ideas about the origin of this phrase. It comes from the days of yore (Friends reference) and it is important to note at the time the phrase was used, pudding was not merely the jello variety in chocolate and vanilla… but typically included meat, oatmeal, and other things. (source)

The phrase, now, means that in order to know something well you have to experience it for yourself.

Making heads or tails

Get your goat

There are a couple of theories out there about the origin of this phrase but the most plausible seems to be the mood of a goat when 'picked' on - they get angry! (source)

When someone/something has got your goat it means they have annoyed you.

Smoke and Mirrors

The source of this idiom is based on magicians' illusions, where magicians make objects appear or disappear by extending or retracting mirrors amid a distracting burst of smoke. (source)
The phrase has expanded outside of magic tricks these days and is used to mean deception. 

Slip him a mickey

Partner in crime

There doesn't seem to be an origin for this popular phrase. Basically it means someone to be by your side; someone who assists in a plot. (source)

Wet Blanket

The origin of wet blanket is very literal. Way back in the day (the 1600's day) it was recommended that people keep a small wet blanket near their fires in case they got out of control. Then they would have a quick way to put the fire out before it got too big or out of control. (source)
Throughout the many years the phrase morphed from literal to figurative and it showed up in 1871 as the way we use it today - someone who spoils other people's fun by failing to join in with or by disapproving of their activities.

Out of pocket

“Out of pocket” refers to the quarterback on a passing play in American football. When “in the pocket,” the quarterback is protected by the linesmen, and is therefore in his/her normal mode of operation, operating ideally, relatively stationary (seeking out receivers). When he/she is chased out of the pocket, he/she is on the run, not able to pass effectively, and is unprotected from the vagaries of the other team.
HUH? (ha!) 
Read more about the evolution of the phrase to its figurative meaning of today, someone or something is unreachable/unavailable, here

Eat crow

The original phrase is believed to be “to eat boiled crow”, but either way, using the term “eat crow” to mean to be proven wrong, is thought to have first appeared in or around 1850. Read about it's earlier beginnings and it's evolution here.

Perhaps eating crow meant to be proven wrong all along because someone first uttered, "Crow can't taste that bad" and then preceded to eat the crow and discover they were very wrong. Ha!

A bushel and a peck

This phrase is usually preceded by the words "I love you..." 
The literal bushel and peck is this: "A US bushel is a measure of dry volume and equals approximately 35 litres, or 8 dry gallons. An Imperial bushel equals approximately 36 litres, or 8 Imperial gallons. A peck is also a measure of dry volume and equals 8 dry quarts in both the US and Imperial systems. There are 4 pecks in a bushel."
What it means in the figurative is kind of a mystery, I suppose it means you are loved a whole lot? Google searches didn't yield very many results. There was one result but the guy who wrote the blog was a bit, okay a whole lot, sexual so I've decided to just let that particular article float out there. Ha. 

Johnny on the spot

The figurative meaning of this phrase is a bit obscure. However, here's the origin of it: The phrase dates back to 1896 and was the subject of an article in the New York Sun titled “Johnny on the Spot: A New Phrase Which Has Become Popular in New York.” The article details the expression that had become very popular in NYC. According to the writer, the phrase is from a slightly longer version, ‘Johnny is always on the spot when wanted.’ … where Johnny refers to a general male (like John Doe). Although, the author does venture to provide a little more detail on who Johnny is: “a man or youth who may be relied upon to be at a certain stated place when wanted… an individual who is prompt and farseeing, alive to his own interests and keenly sensible of means for promoting his own advantage is a ‘Johnny on the spot.’” (source)

The figurative is derived from the origin but has expanded to mean any person (male or female) who is on hand and ready to perform a service or respond to an em…

Tie one on

There are several theories to this idiom but all of them center around drinking alcohol. Read about them here.

Tie one on? It means to drink excessively.