Well, actually “flake off” wasn’t in the article I researched on various phrases, but I’m guessing it derived from standing next to someone with severe dandruff. My guess anyhow.
But, here are some of the ones that were actually verified in a book by Albert Jack, author of “Black Sheep and Lame Ducks: The Origins of Even More Phrases We Use Every Day.”
Bare Faced Lie: I thought it came from someone who told you a lie while they were naked, but, I was wrong. It comes from the fact that a clean-shaven face could not conceal any lies, unlike a bearded man who could conceal things. Guess women were honest all the time what with no beards…….um….some of them anyhow.
Butter Someone Up: Again, my initial thought was some sort of fantasy ritual between married, or, unmarried couples wanting to try something different. Wrong again (sigh) It comes from an ancient Indian custom of throwing butterballs at the statues of gods to seek favor
We all know now that throwing rotten eggs at politicians possibly derived from that same custom but not as to seek any favors.
Having A Blind Eye: I think I’m batting zero here. Which of course is another phrase not in the book. According to Mr. Jack’s book, in the 1801 Battle of Copenhagen, Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, commander of the British Fleet attempted to stop Horatio Nelson, (no relation to the Horatio on CSI Miami) from launching an attack on the enemy. Nelson, who had one blind eye, raised the telescope to his bad eye and said, “I see no ships.” Duh!
Give The Cold Shoulder: HAH! I know this one. I’ve been married twice and boy do I know the cold shoulder. Anyhow, I was kinda close on this one.
Actually giving someone the cold shoulder originated back in England when someone wanted to signal a guest that it was time for them to leave. The host would give the guest a cold slice of meat from the shoulder of beef, mutton or pork. McDonald’s, here I come.
Cat Got Your Tongue: Sounds kinda painful to me. This comes from people who were whipped by the English navy with cat-o-nine tails. In other words they were flogged for doing something wrong. So, with all of this flogging going on, the victims were usually left speechless. Geez…..so would I. Also, back in medieval times, which I’m glad at this point I wasn’t around, punishment for “liars and blasphemers ” was having their tongues cut out and then fed to the cats. Blaggh!
Ancient Egyptian cats were considered to be gods, would eat just about anything, so giving the tongue of a liar was seen as a human offering.
(note…..never let my cat get close enough to me when I’m lying)
Eat Humble Pie: I think I know where this one is going.
In the Middle Ages, no, not when you’re in your 50′s or 60′s, but waaaaay back in time, like back when they said things like, forsooth, and hark. Well, back then the lord of the manor would always get the finest cuts of meat. But…those of lower standing, slugs like you and I if we were around back then, would be served the entrails and innards, known as “umbles,” baked into a pie.
Blaghhhh! Once again…..back to McDonald’s.
Blow Hot And Cold: Never heard of this one, although I have heard the term “blowhard.” Not the same thing however.
This comes from a story in classical mythology in which a traveler is given food and shelter by a kind woodland god. According to the legend, the woodland god gave the traveler a room for the night and some hot Campbell’s soup. (I’m just guessing it was Campbells….could very well have been Progreso or something else.)
Anyhow, the man blew on his fingers to warm them and then, with the same breath, blew on the soup to cool it.
Would have been, in my opinion, a lot easier for that traveler to simply stick his damn fingers into the bowl of soup to warm them up…but hey, that’s just my thinking.
This apparently didn’t work out too well for the traveller because the woodland god, irritated at the man’s apparent indecision, packed him off outside and sent him on his way.
See….if he had simply stuck his fingers into the bowl of hot soup in the first place he wouldn’t have gotten screwed out of having a room for the night.
So, all these phrases can be researched further in Albert Jack’s book…..hmmmmm……. Albert Jack’s…..isn’t there a cereal called Albert Jacks……um….WAIT….oh yeah….that’s Apple Jacks…….sorry.
So that’s today’s lesson boys and girls. Now you’re much smarter than you were before reading this. However, you really could have been doing something more productive. But, MisfitWisdom greatly appreciates your choice in priorities.
As for myself….I’m off to do more research.
I’m trying to find out where the phrase, “flipping you the bird” came from.
Only because I tend to get a lot of people doing that to me when I’m out and tooling around the highways and I have yet to see anything that closely resembles a bird.
Fingers maybe….but no bird.
Copyright 2010 MisfitWisdom RLV