Sunday, March 09, 2008

Phrase and Fable

I am fascinated by words. When I was a kid, I used to grab an encyclopedia or a dictionary on my way to the bathroom and read until my legs were numb. A few weeks ago, I bought this book called Phrase and Fable and it is one good little read. It is a little encyclopedia of phrases and their origins. Just this morning I discovered the origin of "Spitting image." I had always wondered what the heck that term meant. I tried to imagine someone spitting on a mirror and cleaning it, or some kind of reference to Jesus spitting in the dirt, (back in my more pious days) or one of those old arabic phrases that make no sense, even to the arab... like the ones about camels and coconuts and Muhammad... but now, mystery solved.

According to Phrase and Fable, "Spitting image: the term is recorded from the early 20th century, and is an alteration of spitten image, which itself is an alteration of split and image.

Free the mind. That's my job. Until next time. Eat your veggies. Say your prayers and change your huggies in the morning, children of the Lord.

(Got any others that don't make a lick of sense?)

6 comments:

Chaotic Hammer said...

Waiting with bated breath...

FancyPants said...

"Got any others that don't make a lick of sense?"

Yeah, all the ones I screw up.

Seth Ward said...

With bated breath: "Baited, which is sometimes seen, is a mispelling, since bated in this sense is a shortened form of abated, the idea being that ones breathing is lessened under the influence of extreme suspense."

Fancypants, "dinky rinky" is derived from two common phrases that describe something small. It combines "winky dinky" and "rinky dink."

The Egel Nest said...

I always wondered about the phrase... "rule of thumb"

"beating around the bush"

I have since figured out the latter :)


Bradley
The Egel Nest

Kristin said...

How about the phrase,
"You take the cake" ?

chantale said...

the rule of thumb apparently comes from an old english law that said you could beat your wife, but only with something as wide as your thumb - hence rule of thumb....