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SAYINGS AND THEIR MEANINGS

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.

LAST UPDATED 4th Jan 2005

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"
Getting Tanked 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.
Getting Bombed 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.
Upper Crust "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.
Loosing Face 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."
Sleep Tight 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.
Honeymoon 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".
Pot Luck 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.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

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