Why do we say that??

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by Robhibberd29, Jul 17, 2009.

  1. Robhibberd29

    Robhibberd29 Active Member

    I've just wrote something in another thread...Gordon Bennett.

    I then wondered if people know why we say that and who he was?

    Gordon Bennett was a newspaper columnist who got a name for writing close-to-the-knuckle comments. Hence people would read what he'd put and say out loud "Gordon Bennett!!" in shock of what they had just read. This is nothing to do with why we say Gordon Bennett but he was also one of the founders of the very first Grand Prix'. He got the newspaper he worked for to put up some of the prize money for it.

    Does anyone know why we say any other terms or phrases?
  2. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    "Giving it the whole nine yards" - from the ammunition belts for Spitfires/Hurricanes, which were 27 feet long, so if you used all your bullets, you'd given them "the whole nine yards".
  3. agentorange

    agentorange Member

    In times gone by you were legally entitled to beat your wife with a stick, as long as it was no more than the diameter of your thumb - hence 'rule of thumb'.
  4. basstrom4eva

    basstrom4eva Member

    A flash in the pan, comes from the olde days of muskets, the pan held the gunpowder, the shot was in the barrel and if it failed to fire the shot gunpowder would cause 'a flash in the pan' or a loud, bright event that came to nothing.
  5. basstrom4eva

    basstrom4eva Member

    A good square meal - on the battleships of olde, the meals were served direct onto the table, and to stop the food from moving around dowling was used to form a square. This formed a 12 inch fixed square plate. This size meant a healthy size meal could be served, hence the saying 'a good square meal.
  6. basstrom4eva

    basstrom4eva Member

    The wrong end of the stick is a phrase from the printing industry. When mass printing was developing, each letter was placed an 'a stick'. Because the letters were placed on the stick in reverse order starting from the end on the word, those starting in the industry would invariably place the letters on the wrong end on the stick.
  7. halsasaurus

    halsasaurus Member

    I thought it came from Roman communal toilets that provided a shared wet sponge on the end of stick to clean yourself.
    It was bad if you picked it up the wrong way up
  8. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    It doesn't sound very pleasent if you managed to use it the right way either :eek:
  9. MrsDoyle

    MrsDoyle Supporting Member

    ...and there was me thinking it was lavvy humour :rolleyes:
  10. basstrom4eva

    basstrom4eva Member

    Maybe the Romans got there first, but the printers did use the saying, it is true cos my friend is an old printer and printing historian and his father was a printer back in the days of sticks and letters...when I was a lad.. he use to say...
  11. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    Hobsons choice. Meaning no choice, comes from an 18th century Inn Keeper called Tobias Hobson, who sold his horses in strict order. So if you bought a horse from him you got the next in line, no matter which of them you prefered.
  12. Robhibberd29

    Robhibberd29 Active Member

    "Sleep tight" is from the days before mattresses where the bed base was formed from rope. The tighter it was tied, the more comfortable the bed.
    Hence "sleep tight" meaning have a comfortable sleep.
  13. Independent Silver Band

    Independent Silver Band Active Member

    In the U.S. the saying "Can't touch that with a ten foot pole" came from New Orleans Louisiana where the dead are buried above ground. As the bodies decay, they are pushed back to make room for new bodies.
  14. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    and of course in the UK we'd refer to that as "wouldnt touch it with a barge pole" or even "wouldnt touch it with a 10 foot barge pole".

    A barge pole being from the canal industry

    "Barge-poles are the long wooden poles that are used to push barges along. The term was first recorded in Edward Farmer's Scrap book, being a selection of poems, songs, scraps, etc., 1846: Barge-pole - A large stick or thick bough. Also generally used for any large piece of wood"

    and a slightly different version would be "I wouldnt touch it with your's..." not refering to anything like 10 foot of course :).

    So which came first the bodies or the canals?
  15. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Ship shape and Bristol fashion

    'Ship-shape and Bristol fashion' is actually two phrases merged into one. Ship-shape came first and has been used since the 17th century. It is recorded in Sir Henry Manwayring's The sea-mans dictionary, 1644:
    "It [the rake] being of no use for the Ship, but only for to make her Ship shapen, as they call it."
    Bristol fashion was added later and is first seen in print during Bristol's heyday as a trading port, in Richard Dana Jr's Two years before the mast, 1840:
    "Everything on board 'ship-shape and Bristol fashion'."
  16. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Not sure how far this one goes "it's looking a bit black over Bill's Mother's" meaning its going to rain.

    It's used in Derbyshire even though I don't know Bill or even where his Mum lives. I've read that it's been claimed by the Black Country (Birmingham) but there it's Will's Mother's and specifically when looking towards Stratford-upon-Avon (to the south west - where the prevailing weather would come from) and in this case Will being William Shakespeare
  17. Robhibberd29

    Robhibberd29 Active Member

    A red herring referred to smoked fish used to throw blood hounds off the scent of escaped convicts or off the scent of a fox or hare while training the hounds, depending on which recanted tale you believe happened first!