KRAZY KATS

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The Video of the Week now showing on Light After Life forum is: 'EXPLORING THE UNEXPLAINED - A JOURNEY INTO SPIRITUALISM'

The Cat's Pyjamas

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To cast the first stone

Post by Kitkat on Thu 05 Jan 2017, 12:40

TO CAST THE FIRST STONE

To be first to criticize, to find fault,to start a quarrel, or to cast aspersions on someone's character.  In biblical times, the barbaric custom of capital punishment was to pelt heretics, adulteresses and criminals with stones and rocks in a public place.

The phrase is from John 8:7, spoken by Jesus to the Scribes and Pharisees who brought before him a woman caught in adultery.  They said that according to the law of Moses, she should be stoned to death, to which Jesus replied: 'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.'


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To clear the decks

Post by Kitkat on Fri 06 Jan 2017, 12:53

TO CLEAR THE DECKS

To remove everything not required, especially when preparing for action; hence to prepare for some task by removing the extraneous or irrelevant.

This is a nautical phrase and alludes to a sailing ship preparing for battle, when anything in the way of the guns and their crews, or that might burn or splinter, or that was not lashed down, was removed from the usually cluttered decks so that no untethered articles would roll about and injure the seamen during the battle.

This saying is used in many contexts, such as clearing the table of fod and dishes, or preparing the house to receive guests.

'Deck' appears in many commonly used phrases, among them 'to hit the deck' - to fall over, usually to escape injury - or to 'deck someone' (to hit them and knock them to the floor).

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To be in a cleft stick

Post by Kitkat on Sat 07 Jan 2017, 09:32

TO BE IN A CLEFT STICK

A figurative phrase meaning to be in a tight place or dilemma with no room for manoeuvre, neither backwards nor forwards.

The expression may come from the verb 'to cleave', which has two directly opposite meanings: one being to stick to or adhere, and the other to split, chop or break along a grain or line of cleavage.

The first recordd use of the phrase with its figurative meaning was by the poet William Cowpeer (1731-1800) in 1782:  'We are squeezed to death, between the two sides of that sort of alternative which is commonly called a cleft stick.'

A cleft stick was often used in the eighteenth century to catch snakes.  The form of torture inflicted on Ariel by the witch Sycorax in Shakespeare's The Tempest (1611) was to imprison him in the trunk of a cleft pine tree.

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Clean round the bend

Post by Kitkat on Sun 08 Jan 2017, 13:32

CLEAN ROUND THE BEND

Completely crazy or eccentric.  The phrase was described by F. Bowen in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1929 as 'an old naval term for anybody who is mad'.

In a neat play on words, the phrase has been used to advertise the lavatory cleaner Harpic since the 1930s:  'It cleans right round the bend.'

The word 'clean' is used in many different ways to describe something complete, pure, unmarked or unreserved - for instance, 'clean bowled', 'to make a clean break' or 'to make a clean breast of it'.

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To climb on the bandwagon

Post by Kitkat on Mon 09 Jan 2017, 11:25

TO CLIMB ON THE BANDWAGON

To declare support for a popular movement or trend, usually without believing in the movement or trend.

The expression is believed to have originated in the Southern states of America, probably dating from the first presidential campaign of William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) in 1892, when candidates for political office would parade through the streets, led by a band of musicians performing on a large horse-drawn dray.

As a publicity stunt, the local candidate would mount the wagon as it passed and ride through his constituency in an attempt to gain personal support from the voters.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bryan never won the presidency, losing to McKinley in 1896 and 1900, and to Taft in 1908.


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For the high jump

Post by Kitkat on Tue 10 Jan 2017, 16:49

FOR THE HIGH JUMP

English slang for being in big trouble, also known these days as 'deep doo-doo' or 'deep shit'.  It usually implies that dismissal or serious punishment are on the cards.

The allusion is to the hanging of a convicted criminal - the gallows being 'the high jump' - which was the former British judicial method for capital punishment.


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To have a chip on one's shoulder

Post by Kitkat on Wed 11 Jan 2017, 11:21

TO HAVE A CHIP ON ONE'S SHOULDER

To display an inferiority complex, to perceive oneself as an underdog, to have a grievance, often unjustifiably.

The expression is believed to have originated in America in about 1840 and may allude to a game of dare, in which a man challenges another to dislodge a chip - as in piece of wood, not French fry - he carries on his shoulder.

In American parlance, a chip was also a figurative term for consequences, and so the phrase may be a warning to an adversary not to aim too high.

There is an ancient proverb, 'Hew not too high lest chips fall in thine eye.'  By the late sixteenth century, this health-and-safety warning had become something of a challenge, a dare to a fearless woodcutter to look high up without regard to any falling chips of wood.

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To have a field day

Post by Kitkat on Thu 12 Jan 2017, 10:13

TO HAVE A FIELD DAY

A figurative expression for a day or occasion or time of particular excitement, often a day away from the usual routine.

The phrase is in fact a military term for a day when troops have manoeuvres, exercises or reviews - out in the field.  (The military refer to the area or sphere of operations as 'the field'.)

The term is now used more generally to mean a time of enjoyment, or making the most of things; we might say that the tabloid newspapers would 'have a field day' if they got hold of a particularly salacious story.

In the US Navy, 'a field day' is a day devoted to cleaning the ship in preparation for inspection.

Schoolchildren, meanwhile, enjoy field trips, on which they travel away from school, particularly to study geography.


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Out of the frying pan into the fire

Post by Kitkat on Fri 13 Jan 2017, 10:39

TO JUMP OUT OF THE FRYING PAN INTO THE FIRE

To leap from one bad predicament to another which is as bad or even worse.

In English, the phrase can be traced back to about 1530 when, in the course of a religious argument, Sir Thomas More, Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor and author of Utopia, said that William Tyndale (1494-1536), translator of the Bible into English, had 'featly conuayed himself out of the frying panne fayre into the fyre'.

Unfortunately, both men met a gruesome end.  Sir Thomas More was hanged as a traitor in 1535 for refusing to approve the marriage between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, while Tyndale was publicly strangled and burned as a heretic in 1536.
 

Most languages have an equivalent phrase; the French have tomber de la poêle dans le feu - 'fall from the frying pan into the fire' - from which the English is probably translated.  The ancient Greeks had, 'out of the smoke into the flame'; the Italians and Portuguese, 'to fall from the frying pan into the coals'; and the Gaelic is 'out of the cauldron into the fire'.

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To keep one's powder dry

Post by Kitkat on Sat 14 Jan 2017, 09:46

TO KEEP ONE'S POWDER DRY

To be prepared for action, but preserve one's resources until they are really needed.

The phrase comes from a saying attributed to Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), and the powder is, of course, gunpowder, which will not ignite if wet, or even damp.

During his savage Irish campaign of 1649, Cromwell is said to have concluded a speech to his troops, who were about to cross the River Slaney before attacking Wexford, with the rousing words, 'Put your trust in God, my boys, and keep your power dry.'

There is no contemporary recording of his use of this phrase, however, and it is possible that it was coined later by the soldier and historian Valentine Blacker (1738-1823) in his poem 'Oliver's Advice', which attributed the line to Cromwell.

 angry

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Kiss of death

Post by Kitkat on Mon 16 Jan 2017, 13:31

KISS OF DEATH

This phrase derives from Judas Iscariot's kiss given to Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane before he betrayed him (Luke 23:48 and Matthew 26:49).  It's also known as a 'Judas kiss', meaning an insincere act of courtesy or false affection.

In Mafia circles, a kiss from the boss may indeed be a fatal omen.

The phrase is often used today in political or business contexts, meaning that certain associations or actions may prove to be the undoing of a person or organization, or the downfall of a plan or project.


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Re: The Cat's Pyjamas

Post by Stardust on Mon 16 Jan 2017, 13:56

...and let's not forget Goldfinger.


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Kiss of death

Post by Whiskers on Mon 16 Jan 2017, 17:35

@Stardust wrote:...and let's not forget Goldfinger.

or the movie (the original --- not the awful 1995 one!)

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To lie on a bed of nails

Post by Kitkat on Tue 17 Jan 2017, 15:59

TO LIE ON A BED OF NAILS

A situation or position, usually self-inflicted, that is fraught with a multitude of difficult problems.

The phrase refers to the spiked bed of the Hindu sadhu (ascetic or holy man), on which he chooses to sleep as a mark of spiritual devotion.  But while the spikes may not hurt the sadhu, they would be unbearable for most normal mortals.

The saying is sometimes used in its variant form, 'to lie on a bed of thorns'; both are used to describe painful situations that people have created for themselves.


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As mad as a hatter

Post by Kitkat on Wed 18 Jan 2017, 14:04

AS MAD AS A HATTER

A renowned simile ever since Lewis Carroll's (1832-98) Alice in Wonderland (1865), although it can be found in W.M. Thackeray's (1811-63) Pendennis (1850) and is recorded in America as early as 1836.

The likely reason for linking hat-makers with madness is that hatters used the chemical mercurous nitrate in the making of felt hats, and its side effects can produce trembling symptoms such as those suffered in St Vitus's Dance.

It is believed that Lewis Carroll based his character on Theophilus Carter, a furniture dealer who was known locally as the 'mad hatter' because he wore a top hat and devised fanciful inventions such as an alarm-clock bed which tipped the sleeper to the floor when it was time to wake up.

It has also been suggested that the original mad hatter was Robert Crab, a seventeenth-century English eccentric who gave all his belongings to the poor and ate only dock leaves and grass.

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To make no bones

Post by Kitkat on Thu 19 Jan 2017, 21:05

TO MAKE NO BONES

To be honest and direct without any risk that the statement may be misunderstood, but also sometimes used to mean to have no scruples about something.

One oft-cited source for this phrase is the world of gambling.  Dice were often known as 'bones' because they were originally made from animal bone.  Yet there is no further evidence to link the phrase to dice.

It is more likely that it has its roots in the older expression 'to find bones in something', which was used from the fifteenth century.  That phrase came from the fact that finding bones in a bowl of broth was considered troublesome, so to find bones in something came to mean to take issue with it.

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Make hay while the sun shines

Post by Kitkat on Fri 20 Jan 2017, 12:12

MAKE HAY WHILE THE SUN SHINES

To act promptly when the opportunity presents itself and make use of favourable circumstances. It has a similar seize-the-day meaning to the phrases 'one today is worth two tomorrows', and, as seen on a postcard, 'there's many a lemon dries up unsqueezed.'

The phrase originated when many people worked on the land, and appeared in the sixteenth century.  Before the days of the baler, cut hay was tossed about with a pitchfork before being gathered in, and then had to be left to dry in the fields, which mean that rain would spoil it.

In more recent times, it has come to be used as a justification for having fun or relaxing whenever the opportunity presents itself.

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The man on the Clapham omnibus

Post by Kitkat on Sat 21 Jan 2017, 08:39

THE MAN ON THE CLAPHAM OMNIBUS

The man in the street.  This typically ordinary person on the bus was invented by a law lord, Lord Charles Bowen (1835-94).  While summing up a case for negligence, he is said to have told the jury, 'We must ask ourselves what the man on the Clapham omnibus would think.'

The phrase was first officially recorded in the law courts in 1903, when it was quoted by Sir Richard Henn Collins MR (1842-1911) in a libel case.

In Bowen's time, the omnibus was still a horse-drawn carriage and Clapham was a nondescript suburb judged to represent ordinary London.


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To move the goalposts

Post by Kitkat on Sun 22 Jan 2017, 11:39

TO MOVE THE GOALPOSTS

A colloquial expression derived from football meaning to change the agreed conditions or rules for carrying out a plan, quite often in business when clients change their minds after work on a project has already begun.

Seen in The Guardian, 1 March 1989, about the imposition of a new railway line in Kent:

The people of Kent vote solidly for the Conservative Party ...
Why are these people, therefore, trying to move the goalposts after the football match has started?



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My giddy aunt

Post by Kitkat on Mon 23 Jan 2017, 10:31

MY GIDDY AUNT

An exclamation of surprise, a mild oath.

It has been suggested that the expression derives from the archetypal saga of giddy-auntdom, the classic farce Charley's Aunt by Brandon Thomas (1856-1914), first performed in 1892:  'I'm Charley's aunt from Brazil -where the nuts come from.'  'Oh my sainted aunt' is another variant.

However, there seems to have been a fashion at the end of the nineteenth century for using the word 'giddy' in a hyperbolical sense and this too is significant.  In Rudyard Kipling's (1865-1936) Stalky & Co (1899) we find:  'King'll have to prove his charges up to the giddy hilt.'

This specific use of 'giddy' in the phrase suggests something or someone lightheartedly or exuberantly silly; a sense of the word that dates from the sixteenth century, as in the expression to act the giddy goat.* 
Although 'giddy' has been used for hundreds of years in this sense, at first it literally meant to be possessed by a god, but later shifted to its modern sense of experiencing vertigo or dizziness.



* TO ACT THE GIDDY GOAT

To fool around.  Goats are known for their unpredictable behaviour.

In the literal sense, 'giddy' means 'insane' orto be 'possessed by a god', but it has been used to mean 'silly' or 'foolish' since the early Middle Ages.

In Latin, 'goat' is caper; goats are noted for their frisky nature.  'To cut a caper' means 'to skip or leap about playfully'.

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To add insult to injury

Post by Kitkat on Tue 24 Jan 2017, 16:20

TO ADD INSULT TO INURY

To hurt, by word or deed, someone who ha already suffered an act of violence or injustice.   The expression has been in use for centuries.

During the Augustan era, the so-called Golden Age of Latin literature (27 BC-AD 14), Phaedrus translated Aesop's (620-560 BC) fables into Latin verse, peppering them with anecdotes of his own.He quotes the fable about a bald man who tried to swat a fly that had bitten him on the head, but who missed the insect and instead gave his pate a sharp slap.

Whereupon the fly said, 'You wished to kill me for a mere touch.  What will you do to yourself since you have added insult to injury?'

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To take an early bath

Post by Kitkat on Wed 25 Jan 2017, 10:17

TO TAKE AN EARLY BATH

This euphemism comes from the football pitch, and means to retire early to the dressing room after being sent off by the referee, or being injured during a match (of football or rugby).

Football has been around in the UK since at least 1170 and the original game was generally bloody and brutal, but in 1863 the Football Association was establishec as a governing body of the game.  In 1881, it introduced a new law stating that if a player was guilty of 'ungentlemanly behaviour', the referee could order him off the ground.

By the time club football had become firmly established in the 1920s and 1930s, and clubs had their own facilities for the players, it was customary for the players to share a bath together after the match and thus the phrase arose.

By the 1950s, radio and TV commentators of both soccer and American football in the US were using the expression.

It passed into more general use to describe any situation in which someone is obliged to pull out of the action before it is over.  In America, and increasingly in this country, 'to take a bath' means to suffer any kind of defeat or serious loss, as in 'he took a bath in the stock market collapse', while the original phrase has evolved with the times into 'to take an early shower'.
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To be taken for a ride

Post by Kitkat on Thu 26 Jan 2017, 11:51

TO BE TAKEN FOR A RIDE

This colloquial phrase can be interpreted in one of two ways. It refers either to the victim of a light-hearted joke, prank or con, or - in its sinister and probably original meaning, a completely genuine use of the phrase - to someone who is taken for a ride somewhere and does not come back in one piece, if at all.

The rival underworld gangs of major American cities in the 1920s and 1930s were virtually at war with each other, and any unfortunate who was unlucky enough to tempt the wrath of the gang leader, or Don in the case of the Mafia, would be literally taken for a ride in a limousine, ostensibly to discuss certain matters or sort out some misunderstanding.  He would be very unlikely to return alive, however - or, indeed, to return at all.


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That takes the biscuit!

Post by Kitkat on Fri 27 Jan 2017, 16:52

THAT TAKES THE BISCUIT!

An exclamation to indicate shock and surprise at some action that has gone beyond the bounds of expectation.

Specially spiced biscuits and cakes were formerly prized as small treats and were given as rewards in a variety of competitions.  This phrase is thought to be a derivation of 'that takes the cake', which in the Deep South of America in the 1920s referred to a winning performance at a cake walk.

This version of the phrase may predate cake walks by several thousand years, however, as there is evidence to suggest that 'taking the cake' was synonymous with taking victory as early as the fifth century, when 'cakes' were small pyramids of grains and honey.

In The Knights, Aristotle (384-322 BC) wrote:  'If you surpass him in impudence, then we take the cake.'

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To talk turkey

Post by Kitkat on Sat 28 Jan 2017, 15:26

TO TALK TURKEY

To discuss some subject frankly or seriously.

The origin of the expression is uncertain, but it is thought to date back to nineteenth-century America and may have arisen from the efforts of turkey hunters to attract their prey by making gobbling noises.  The birds would then either emerge from their cover or return the call, so revealing their whereabouts.

At the turn of the last century, the turkey was considered an amusing bird, and conversations in which one 'talked turkey' were convivial.  A young suitor's chat-up lines would also be called 'talking turkey', perhaps becuse in a fit of nerves he might become tongue-tied and his words would come out like gobbling noises.

Later, the meaning became more serious and related to stern admonitions.

Incidentally, turkeys do not come from Turkey, but from North America, and were brought to Spain from Mexico.

Benjamin Franklin suggested the turkey should be the emblem of the United States of America - however, the bald eagle was chosen instead.

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To throw in the sponge

Post by Kitkat on Sun 29 Jan 2017, 10:44

TO THROW IN THE SPONGE

To throw in, or throw up, the sponge means to give up, to admit defeat.  The metaphor is from prize-fighting, which predated modern boxing, and refers to a second from the boxer's corner tossing a sponge, used to refresh his contestant in between rounds, towards the centre of the ring, to signify that his man is beaten.

'To thow in the towel' also means to concede defeat in boxing, for a second might also literally throw a towel into the ring to show that the game is up.
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Too many cooks spoil the broth

Post by Kitkat on Mon 30 Jan 2017, 16:50

TOO MANY COOKS SPOIL THE BROTH

A well-known proverb meaning that too many opinions on a matter become self-defeating.  The adage has been in use since the sixteenth century, if not before.

For almost every proverb or nugget of wisdom, however, there is usually another that means precisely the opposite:  the usual riposte for 'too many cooks spoil the brother' being 'many hands make light work'.

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To turn the tables

Post by Kitkat on Tue 31 Jan 2017, 15:04

TO TURN THE TABLES

To reverse a situation and put one's opponent in the predicament that one has been suffering.  The saying was recorded in the early seventeenth century and was applied to the game of backgammon, the table or board on which it was playing being known as 'the tables'.

The phrase may come from the old rumoured custom of reversing the table, or board, in games of chess or draughts, so that the opponents' relative positions are altogether changed - but even then it had a figurative meaning too.

In a sermon published in 1632, an English deacon called Robert Sanderson (1587-1663),who later became the Bishop of Lincoln, said:

  • Whosoever thou art that dost another wrong, do but turn the tables: imagine thy neighbour were now playing thy game, and thou his.


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Re: The Cat's Pyjamas

Post by Stardust on Tue 31 Jan 2017, 17:26

@Kitkat wrote:Benjamin Franklin suggested the turkey should be the emblem of the United States of America - however, the bald eagle was chosen instead.

Just as well or they'd be eating bald eagle for Thanksgiving instead of turkey!


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Under the counter

Post by Kitkat on Wed 01 Feb 2017, 18:08

UNDER THE COUNTER

This phrase originated during the Second World War, and describes a - then very common - practice among tradesmen with an eye to the main chance.

From the outbreak of the war, many items, ranging from the basics like eggs, butter, meat and jam to 'luxuries' such as petrol, silk stockings and chocolate, were rationed.  Dishonest tradesmen would keep articles and foodstuffs that were in short supply out of sight or 'under the counter', for sale to favoured customers, usually at inflated prices.

This form of trading was part of the thriving wartime black market, and the term is still used to describe any illicit trading.

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Not on your nellie!

Post by Kitkat on Thu 02 Feb 2017, 16:21

NOT ON YOUR NELLIE!

Not bloody likely, not on any account, on your life.  One conjecture is that it derives from a cockney rhyming slang from around the 1930s, 'Nellie Duff' ('duff' rhymes with puff, i.e. breath, that which keeps you alive).

Another theory  is that your 'nellie' is your stomach, your 'Aunt Nellie' - belly, something that in a more refined age you did not reveal to the world.

The phrase was one of comedian Frankie Howerd's (1917-92) catchphrases, which he popularized in the 1940s.

Here is the very first episode.  Hilda Baker (Nellie) just has me in stitches.  Just looking at her makes me laugh - and I love the way she gets all her words mixed up. 

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Re: The Cat's Pyjamas

Post by Stardust on Thu 02 Feb 2017, 16:51

giggle 
I thought, hmmm, 26 minutes of some old TV show, so I only clicked out of curiosity, but thanks Kitkat, I don't regret it. Some of those silly gags had me curled up with laughter. They certainly weren't afraid of ridicule - what year was that?
sunny


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Re: The Cat's Pyjamas

Post by Kitkat on Thu 02 Feb 2017, 16:58

@Stardust wrote:giggle 
I thought, hmmm, 26 minutes of some old TV show, so I only clicked out of curiosity, but thanks Kitkat, I don't regret it. Some of those silly gags had me curled up with laughter. They certainly weren't afraid of ridicule - what year was that?
sunny

Not sure, Stardust.  I never saw it when it was on telly.  Looks kind of 70s(?)  I've just been watching more episodes on YouTube. lololol   I do remember Hilda Baker from a series called Nearest and Dearest.  Loved it.  She was still the same character.
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Hylda Baker

Post by Stardust on Thu 02 Feb 2017, 17:37

Take a look here, Kitkat. Don't let the red colour put you off, click on Enter and there's lots on there of interest, all about Hylda Baker.
http://www.hyldabaker.com/


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To walk the plank

Post by Kitkat on Sat 04 Feb 2017, 20:39

TO WALK THE PLANK

To be put to the supreme test or, worse, to be about to die.

'Walking the plank' is a nautical term for a punishment involving being made to walk blindfold and with bound hands along a plank suspended over the ship's side - one eventually lands up in the drink as shark food, if not drowned first.  It was a pirate custom of disposing of prisoners at sea in the seventeenth century.

The practice is probably more familiar in fiction than in fact, however, since pirates would have been unlikely to kill off captives, who could have been sold as slaves or ransomed.

In R.L. Stevenson's (1850-94) novel The Master of Ballantrae (1889), James Durie and Colonel Francis Burke enlist with the pirates who capture their ship, but the brigands make their other prisoners walk the plank.

The infamous Captain Hook, in J.M. Barrie's (1860-1937)
Peter Pan and Wendy (1912), meanwhile, threatened to flog Wendy and the Lost Boys with a cat-o'-nine-tails ... and then make them walk the plank.

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What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander

Post by Kitkat on Sun 05 Feb 2017, 12:02

WHAT IS SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE IS SAUCE FOR THE GANDER

This old phrase seems to promote sexual equality long before it was fashionable.  It suggests that the same rules apply in both cases -what is fitting for the husband should also be fitting for the wife - though it is more likely that the phrase was used more generally to mean what is good enough for one person is good enough for another.

Originally, 'sauce', from the Latin salsus, meant salted food used as a relish with meat, such as pickled roots and herbs.  'Sauce' these days also means 'cheek' or 'impertinence', perhaps in relation to the piquancy of such relishes.

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To be worth one's salt

Post by Kitkat on Mon 06 Feb 2017, 11:55

TO BE WORTH ONE'S SALT

'Salt' is a significant euphemism, from the early nineteenth century onwards, for one's financial worth, as a play on the world 'salary', or the amount one earned.

In Roman times, a soldier received part of his pay in the form of a salarium, or salary, which was actually an allowance for the purchase of salt (the Latin for 'salt' is sal).  Salt was not easily obtainable then, and a soldier was not 'worth his salt' if he did not come up to scratch - that is, did not deserve his salarium.

Consequently to be 'true to one's salt' is to be loyal to your employers, those who pay your salary, or to maintain or stand by one's personal honour.

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A wolf in sheep's clothing

Post by Kitkat on Tue 07 Feb 2017, 13:38

A WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING

Used to describe a malicious or dangerous person who uses a facade of innocence to fool others as to his or her true character.

The idea of such dissemblance has long been in circulation.  

One of the earliest phrases linking wolves and sheep comes from the Bible:
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Matthew 7:15

The original source of the phrase, however, is thought to be Aesop's Fables, written in the sixth century BC. In the story, a wolf who is hunting sheep realizes that he can get close to the flock by disguising himself with a sheep's skin. But once he is among them, the shepherd - looking for a sheep to kill for his supper - mistakes the wolf for a suitable sheep and cuts its throat.

The moral of the story is that the wrongdoer will be punished by his own deceit.


I love Aesop's Fables - from the unique animal characters depicted therein, to the inevitable moral of the story.
I had the whole collection of Aesop's Fables way back when I was at school. Don't know what happened to it. I think I'll have to search them out again.
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About one's ears

Post by Kitkat on Wed 08 Feb 2017, 13:54

ABOUT ONE'S EARS

This colloquialism, which means to be in a very bothersome situation in which one might sustain some pain or trouble, is a shortened form of the saying 'to bring a hornets' nest about one's ears'.  A hornet is a type of large wasp, which can inflict a savage sting.

The expression 'to stir up a hornets' nest' implies the same degree of trouble as the phrase above - and suggests perhaps deliberate provocation too.

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A drowning man will clutch at a straw

Post by Kitkat on Thu 09 Feb 2017, 12:35

A DROWNING MAN WILL CLUTCH AT A STRAW

Someone in desperate circumstances will reach out and grab hold of anything, however flimsy or inadequate, in the hope of surviving the situation.  The phrase is often shortened to 'clutching at straws'.

It was first used in print by Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) in 1534, in his Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation.

The word 'straw' has been used as a metaphor for years, representing the insubstantial or groundless, as in a 'man of straw', someone financially insecure or with a poor credit rating.  We also have 'the lasts straw (that broke the camel's back)', that little extra burden which makes something no longer bearable (as with the camel's load, tipping the balance of tolerance).

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As drunk as a lord

Post by Kitkat on Fri 10 Feb 2017, 13:36

AS DRUNK AS A LORD

This simile must have first become common in the eighteenth century, when the consumption of alcohol was something well-bred gentlemen liked to boast about.

At that time, people from the lower social classes simply could not afford to buy the amount of alcohol required to get one very drunk.  Consequently, excessive consumption became a clear sign of wealth.

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As easy as pie

Post by Kitkat on Sat 11 Feb 2017, 12:11

AS EASY AS PIE

Making a pie is not easy and this expression must apply to the eating of it.  It originates in nineteenth-century America, where sweet pie was a common dish and the word 'pie' was associated with simple pleasures.

An easy task can also be described as a 'piece of cake', which is also easy to obtain and eat, as opposed to baking it.

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Eery dog has its day

Post by Kitkat on Sun 12 Feb 2017, 13:37

EVERY DOG HAS ITS DAY

This is a commonly used phrase that seems to have first appeared in English in the writings of R. Taverner in 1539 and subsequently in those of Shakespeare.

Let Hercules himself do what he may,
The cat will mew, and dog will have his day.
~ Hamlet (1600; 5:1)

It means that everyone will have a chance one day; everyone will have a moment of success or of being important eventually.  This sentiment has been expressed for thousands of years.

The Latin proverb reads Hodie mihi - cras tibi, 'Today to me, tomorrow to thee'.  And another ancient old wives' tale states that: 'Fortune visits every man once, she favours me now, but she will favour you in your turn.'

As a further example, Peter Pindar wrote in his Odes to Condolence (1972):

Thus every dog at last will have his day -
He who this morning smiled at night may sorrow,
The grub today's a butterfly tomorrow.

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Every cloud has a silver lining

Post by Kitkat on Mon 13 Feb 2017, 14:07

EVERY CLOUD HAS A SILVER LINING

In every situation, no matter how seemingly hopeless and gloomy, there is always some redeeming brightness to be found if one takes the trouble to look for it - 'while there's life, there's hope.'

This optimistic guidance to look on the bright side has been around since Roman times (although one Latin proverb reads, 'After the sun, the clouds').

The phrase is thought to have its origins in Milton's (1608-74) Comus (1634): The lady lost in  the wood resolves not to give up hope and says:

Was I deceived or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?


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St Valentines Day

Post by Whiskers on Tue 14 Feb 2017, 13:40

What is the origin of St Valentines Day?   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine's_Day

(Hope its OK to put this here KK)


The Legend of St. Valentine

The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Origins of Valentine’s Day: A Pagan Festival in February

While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial–which probably occurred around A.D. 270–others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

Valentine’s Day: A Day of Romance

Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”–at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.
Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

Typical Valentine’s Day Greetings

In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings.
Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas) Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY EVERYONE  happyheart I love you
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Re: The Cat's Pyjamas

Post by Kitkat on Tue 14 Feb 2017, 16:59

@Whiskers wrote:(Hope its OK to put this here KK)


The Legend of St. Valentine



Absolutely fine, Whiskers.  Very Happy   The perfect place for it to go.  This thread is to record the origins and meanings of any expressions, customs, traditions, etc.  It's not just for the ones in the book (The Cat's Pyjamas).  The book ones will be coming to an end soon anyway, so the more the merrier!

And ....
Happy St. Valentine's Day, everyone!  happyheart
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An eye for an eye

Post by Kitkat on Wed 15 Feb 2017, 14:35

AN EYE FOR AN EYE

Punishment equal to the crime, retaliation in kind, or simply getting even.  The justification for this form of retribution comes from the Old Testament:

Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
Exodus 21:24

Jesus referred to these words in the New Testament and put his own spin on their message, creating another commonly used expression, 'to turn the other cheek':

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:  But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.


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Re: The Cat's Pyjamas

Post by Stardust on Wed 15 Feb 2017, 16:44

I don't agree with either of them.


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To fiddle while Rome burns

Post by Kitkat on Thu 16 Feb 2017, 12:36

TO FIDDLE WHILE ROME BURNS

To delay or vacillate or do nothing during an emergency or crisis - an allusion to Nero's reputed behaviour during the burning of Rome in AD 64.

Nero Claudius Caesar (AD 37-68) was the infamous Roman emperor whom his contemporaries believed to be the instigator of the fire that destoyed most of the city.  As the blaze raged, it is said that he sang to his lyre and recited his own poetry, whilst enjoying the spectacle from the top of a high tower.

Many historians doubt his complicity, however, and Nero himself blamed the Christians.

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The full monty

Post by Kitkat on Fri 17 Feb 2017, 13:41

THE FULL MONTY

Everything, the lot, the complete works.  Said of anything done to the utmost or fullest degree.

The origin of the expression is uncertain.  It may derive from the 'full amount'; or the Spanish card game monte (literally mountain or heap of cards); or it may refer to the full, three-piece, 'Sunday best' suit from the men's outfitters Montague Burton.

The full English breakfast - bacon, eggs, sausage, black pudding, beans, fried bread ... that is, the works - was popularly known as the 'Full Monty' after the Second World War.  It is sometimes said this was because Field Marshall Sir Bernard Montgomery, nicknamed 'Monty' (1887-1976), was said to have started every day with a full English breakfat when campaigning in North Africa.

The British phrase became even more popular in the Engllish-speaking world after the release of the hit 1997 film The Full Monty, directed by Peter Cattaneo (1964-).  The movie followed a fictitious group of unemployed factory workers from Sheffield, who raise money by staging a strip act at a local club and taking off 'the full monty'.
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At full tilt

Post by Kitkat on Sat 18 Feb 2017, 11:58

AT FULL TILT

At full speed or with full force.

The expression probably originated in the fourteenth century, when 'tilting at the quintain' was a popular sport among medieval knights.  A dummy head, often representing a Turk or Saracen, was fastened to rotate around an upright stake fixed in the ground.  At full speed, the knight on horseback tilted towards the head with his lance.  If he failed to strike it in the right place, it would spin round and strike him in the back before he could get clear.

Tilting at the quintain remained a rustic sport, especially popular at wedding celebrations, until the mid seventeenth century.

The similar phrase 'to tilt at windmills' has a rather different meaning, namely 'to battle fanciful enemies'.  The reference is to the crazed knight Don Quixote (in Miguel de Cervante's [1547-1616] novel, Don Quixote, 1605), who imagined the windmills to be giants and advanced to attack.


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