Sunday, July 12, 2009
STORYHEART SUNDAY UK BLOG - MORE OLD ENGLISH SAYINGS
I have been asked to share some more old English Phrases and origins of them. So that will be today's blog.
Many years ago in Scotland, a new game was invented. It was ruled “Gentlemen only… Ladies Forbidden” …and thus the word GOLF entered into the language.
SAVED BY THE BELL/DEAD RINGER
England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a "bone-house" and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the "graveyard shift") to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be "saved by the bell" or was considered a "dead ringer."
CAT LET OUT OF THE BAG
In the Royal Navy the punishment prescribed for most serious crimes was flogging. This was administered by the Boatswain's Mate using a whip called a cat o' nine tails. The "cat" was kept in a leather or baize bag. It was considered bad news indeed when the "cat was let out of the bag. " Other sources attribute the expression to the old English market scam of selling someone a pig in a poke (bag) when the pig turned out to be a cat instead.
NO ROOM TO SWING A CAT
The entire ship's company was required to witness flogging at close hand. The crew might crowd around so that the Boatswain's Mate might not have enough room to swing his cat o' nine tails, hence "No Room to Swing a Cat"
CUT THROUGH THE RED TAPE
Solicitors kept their clients papers in a file folder tied with red ribbon to prevent the papers from falling out. Of course, when they wanted to get at the papers, they would have to cut through the red tape.
GETTING A SQUARE MEAL
Your dinner plate was a square piece of wood with a "bowl" carved out to hold your serving of the perpetual stew that was always cooking over the fire. The kettle was never actually emptied and cleaned out. New ingredients were simply added to the muck. You always took your "square" with you when you went traveling.
Visitors to the Anne Hathaway's cottage (near Stratford upon Avon) are given this explanation while looking at the bread oven beside the fireplace in the kitchen: "The bread was put, as a raw lump of dough, straight into the bread oven. No bread tin, it just sits on the floor of the oven. The oven is heated by the fire and is very hot at the bottom. When the bed is done baking and taken out to cool, the base of the loaf is overcooked black and also dirty. The top of the loaf is done just right, and still clean. The bottom of the loaf is for the servants to eat, while the upper crust is for the master of the house.
Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
Across the Pond
OTHER SUNDAY UK BLOGSABOUT
THE GRAND NATIONAL
WHY UK DRIVES ON THE LEFT
MOTHERS DAY ACROSS THE POND
ABOUT THE UNION JACK
ENGLISHMANS VIEW ON BASEBALL
WHAT IS BOXING DAY
BRITISH TV TRANSPLANTS
WHO WAS SAINT GEORGE?
BOBS YOUR UNCLE
SWEET FANNY ADAMS
EUROPE'S GOT TALENT - WELL PERHAPS
GOBSMACKED, BOBBIES AND AN ARM AND A LEG
BIG BEN... OR IS IT?
THE USA NEEDS A CITIZENS CHARTER
FROM CHARIOTS TO NASCAR
WHAT IS FATHERS DAY?