By Charles Earle Funk, Tom Funk
Why do humans "take forty winks" and never 50...or 60, or 70? Did an individual actually "let the cat out of the bag" at one time limit? Has somebody truly "gone on a wild goose chase"? discover the solutions to those questions and lots of extra during this huge, immense assortment, constituted 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 usual Dictionary sequence, finds the occasionally marvelous, frequently a laugh, and consistently attention-grabbing roots of greater than 2,000 vernacular phrases and expressions. From "kangaroo courtroom" to "one-horse town", from "face the track" to "hocus-pocus," it really is an pleasing linguistic trip.
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Extra resources for 2107 Curious Word Origins, Sayings and Expressions from White Elephants to a Song & Dance
But, in turn, this expression was preceded by its logical forerunner, "to get the goose," in allusion to the hissing of the goose, a theatrical phrase that goes back at least to the beginning of the nineteenth century. between the devil and the deep sea On the horns of a dilemma; between Scylla and Charybdis; facing equally perilous dangers. William Walker, in 1670, when com piling his Phraseologia Anglo-Latina; or Phrases of the English and Latin Tongue, included this expression in his list, probably finding it used by some earlier writer of Latin; but if so, his source is no longer known.
It was so called because, on Corpus Christi Day, the monks proceeding to St. Paul's Cathedral, singing the Pater Noster (thus giving the name "Paternoster Row" to the street they traversed) , reached the turn of the road as they sang the Amen. once in a blue moon It means extremely infrequently, so rarely as to be almost tanta mount to never.
What! Is it not hot enough? " cried the satyr. " to know the ropes To be familiar with all the details. There have been differences of opinion about the origin of this saying, for it so happens that the earliest records make it appear that the phrase was first used by the gentry of the racetracks, and, be cause of that, some hold that by "ropes" the allusion is to the reins of a horse's harness; that one "knows the ropes" who best knows the handling of the reins. But, as with many other phrases, this one, I think, undoubtedly originated among sailors.