This is a subject that has always
interested me. Where do some our words and phrases come from. The true
meaning and derivation is usually lost in time. Below I have selected
some of my favourites. This is a labour of love and will be continually
updated. Please visit again.
|Son of a Gun
||After sailors had crossed the Atlantic
to the West Indies, they would take the native women on board the
ship and have their way with them in between the cannons. Some of
the women the sailors left behind would have boys, who were called
sons between the guns.
|Mind your P's and Q's
||Ale was served at local taverns out
of a "tankard" ... you were charged by the angle of your
elbow ... half-way up... you drank a pint, all the way up... you drank
a quart. Since the Quart cost so much more than the Pint, you were
warned to "Mind your Ps & Qs"
||When you drank too much out of the
above "tankard" you were said to be "tanked" ...
if you got so "tanked" that you passed out, there was a
chance that somebody might think you had actually died. Since back
then they didn't have experience with taking pulses, they often buried
people alive who were actually in a drunken stupor or otherwise comatose.
||A bombard is a leather jug which holds
8 pints or 4 quarts. A full bombard of ale would make you drunk.
|Saved By The Bell
||When our ancestors realized
that they were burying a great deal of people before their time had
actually come, they came up with a solution. They tied a string onto
the "dead" person's hand, buried them, and tied the other
end of the string to a bell and then tied it to nearby tree branch.
If the person revived enough to ring the bell, their survivors would
rush out and dig them up. Hence... "saved by the bell"
|Chew The Fat
||A host would offer his guests a piece
of bacon, which was stored above the fireplace in the parlor, so they
could chew the fat during their visit.
|Get a Square Meal
||Your dinner plate was a square piece
of wood with a "bowl" carved out to hold your serving of
the perpetual stew that was always cooking over the fire. The kettle
was never actually emptied and cleaned out. New ingredients were simply
added to the muck. You always took your "square" with you
when you went traveling.
||"The bread was put,
as a raw lump of dough, straight into the bread oven. No bread tin,
it just sits on the floor of the oven. The oven is heated by the fire
and is very hot at the bottom. When the bed is done baking and taken
out to cool, the base of the loaf is overcooked black and also dirty.
The top of the loaf is done just right, and still clean. The bottom
of the loaf is for the servants to eat, while the upper crust is for
the master of the house.
|Turn The Tables
||Tables only had one finished side.
The other side, less expensive to make, was more rough. When the family
was alone, they ate on the rough side to keep the good side nice for
company. When company came, the whole top lifted off and was turned
to its good side.
||The noble ladies and gentlemen of
the late 1700s wore much makeup to impress each other. Since they
rarely bathed, the makeup would get thicker and thicker. If they sat
too close to the heat of the fireplace, the makeup would start to
melt. If that happened, a servant would move the screen in front of
the fireplace to block the heat, so they wouldn't "lose face."
||The bed frames were strung with ropes
on which straw mattresses were placed. After some time the ropes would
loosen and one of the young men would pull them tight.
||It was the accepted practice in Babylonia
4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father
would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead
is a honey beer, and because their calendar was lunar based, this
period was called the "honey month" or what we know today
as the "honeymoon".
||This goes back to the days when the
cooking pot was always on the fire. An unexpected guest would only
have a choice of food from what was available in the pot and not what
they would wish.