By Charles Earle Funk, Tom Funk
Why do humans "take forty winks" and never 50...or 60, or 70? Did somebody actually "let the cat out of the bag" at one cut-off date? Has an individual really "gone on a wild goose chase"? discover the solutions to those questions and lots of extra during this huge, immense assortment, made from 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 amazing, frequently a laugh, and regularly interesting 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 enjoyable linguistic trip.
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Extra info for 2107 Curious Word Origins, Sayings and Expressions from White Elephants to a Song & Dance
The name came from the custom of using red or purple colors for marking those days upon the calendar, a custom that is still followed generally in show ing the dates of Sundays and holy days by red figures on our present calendars. From this ancient custom arose the practice of designating any memorable date as a red-letter day. not to know (one) from Adam Wherever this is used the speaker means that he would be wholly unable to recognize the person of whom he speaks, probably a per son once known but now forgotten.
Suc cessively through the centuries, and depending somewhat upon the costume of the period, the heart has metaphorically sunk to one's heel, to one's hose, to one's boots. to play $econd fiddle (or violin) In order to produce the harmony desired by the composer of an orchestral piece, someone must be willing to play the violin of lower tone, or second violin, while another plays the first violin and the leading part. Hence, metaphorically, we speak of anyone who occupies a subordinate position, especially of a person who steps from a leading position into the lesser status, as one who plays sec ond fiddle.
The expression as a whole dates from the late eighteenth century. The bib was an article of attire similar to that worn by children then and now, but also formerly worn by girls and women, and extending from the throat to the waist. The tucker, to quote a historian of 1 688, was "a narrow piece of Cloth which compasseth the top of a Womans Gown about the Neck part"; it was often a frill of lace over the shoulders. Men whose calling re quired an apron, such as mechanics or drovers, sometimes wore a bib; no man ever wore a tucker.