Sunday, May 24, 2009
Storyhearts Sunday UK Blog - Gomsmacked, Bobbies or an Arm and a Leg
For this Sunday I'm going into not one but three saying that are used in every day English.
What is the meaning of the word "Gobsmacked"?
Unlike many of these sayings this caught on in the 1980's it tends to have it's origins in the Liverpool area, where "gob" was a term for mouth. "Shut your gob" was a term telling people to keep their mouth shut.
One of the main people that brought "gobsmack' to the general public, was Liverpool singer and TV hosts Cilla Black. Who in her TV show "Surprise, Surprise" used the word frequently to describe a person who was lost for words. A little like a "a smack in the gob" (punch in the mouth) would leave a person struggling for words. The word is now a general part of the English language meaning "completely lost for words".
Why are English policeman called "Bobbies"?
It is derived from Robert Peel (Bobby being the usual nickname for Robert) the founder of the Metropolitan Police and to the pay a police officer got in Peel's day; 'one bob a week'. (term for an old English shilling)
This is not now widely used in Britain, though it can occur with a mixture of affection and slight irony in the phrase "village bobby", nowadays referring to the local community police officer. The term "Bobby on the beat" is often used in politics in reference to return to more community based policing including foot patrols by one local officer (bobby) of a his own small area (beat). In Britain, volunteer Auxiliary Constables are sometimes referred to as Hobby Bobbies.
COSTING AND ARM AND A LEG
Where does the term "to cost and arm and a leg" come from?"
To Cost and Arm and a Leg means that something is expensive - very expensive, not just expensive though, but excessively so.
There are several possible origins for this saying however the most common belief is from the 1800's. When people commissioned portraits it would have been a lot cheaper to have a painting done of just your head and shoulders. To get your whole body painted would have been many times more expensive. Thus to cost an arm and a leg.
It is said this is why nearly every picture of George Washington for instance either has him standing behind a desk (no legs) or with one arm behind his back.
So there we are another few terms for you which I hope you enjoyed.
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