2107 Curious Word Origins, Sayings and Expressions from by Charles Earle Funk, Tom Funk

By Charles Earle Funk, Tom Funk

Why do humans "take forty winks" and never 50...or 60, or 70? Did anyone actually "let the cat out of the bag" at one cut-off date? Has a person truly "gone on a wild goose chase"? discover the solutions to those questions and lots of extra during this huge, immense assortment, produced 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 ordinary Dictionary sequence, finds the occasionally incredible, usually fun, and continually interesting roots of greater than 2,000 vernacular phrases and expressions. From "kangaroo courtroom" to "one-horse town", from "face the song" to "hocus-pocus," it is an exciting linguistic journey.

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Example text

To sweat blood To perform such arduous toil or to be in such physical agony that the sweat in which one is bathed seems to be one's blood drain­ ing away. " The expression had only a religious use until about the seventeenth century. a big shot A person of importance. This slang use is quite recent, developed within the current century, but it is a lineal descendant of "a big gun," dating from the middle of the last century, and which in 48 turn sprang from the union of "a great gun" and "a big bug" of the early nineteenth century.

That is, if the rider was pushing his steed over a straight course and over "banck and bush," he was also likely to be going through both thickets and thin woods; and this, it is thought, was the original expression, so old that it had been contracted even before the time of Chaucer. a fidus Achates A faithful Achates; a steadfast friend. The saying comes from Virgil's Aeneid where Achates is described as the friend who accom­ panied Aeneas on all his wanderings. Jim Crow You can read about Thomas D.

Thus, figuratively, an un­ sound argument or fallacious reasoning would not "hold water" if it failed to stand a test. to acknowledge the corn This purely American expression means to admit the losing of an argument, especially in regard to a detail; to retract; to admit defeat. It is somewhat over a hundred years old, one account of its origin giving it the date of 1 8 28. In this account, plausible, though unveri­ fied, a member of Congress, Andrew Stewart, is said to have stated in a speech that haystacks and cornfields were sent by Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky to Philadelphia and New York.

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