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Archive for the 'Columns and Commentary' Category

He is a real son of a gun.

Posted by Gregov on 9th March 2008

son of a gun – One version of this saying is that sailors traveling to the west Indies sometimes raped native woman on ships, which sometimes occurred between the cannons. When a woman gave birth to a son, he was called "son between the guns." This term was used later, using the word"gun" to mean soldier. His son would thus be called a "son of a gun." Other etymologists speculate that son of a gun meant an illegitimate son of a soldier, who would be nicknamed "gun." How "son of a gun" transformed into it’s current usage is unknown…well I"ll be damned or "son of a gun!"

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The big wig will visit our office today.

Posted by Gregov on 8th March 2008

big wig- Picture a big puffy white haired gentleman and then you’ll be picturing a "big wig." This term is derived from powdered wigs worn by men in the 18th century. The bigger the wig, the more wealthy the individual. Who knows, perhaps someday wigs for men will go back in style!

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I moved everything but the Kitchen sink…

Posted by Gregov on 7th March 2008

Everything but the kitchen sink – comes from World War Two when everything possible was used to contribute to the war effort…all metal was used for the U.S arsenal. The only objects left out were porcelain kitchen sinks. Does anyone still have a porcelain sink?

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He’s as mad as a hatter!

Posted by Gregov on 6th March 2008

mad as a hatter – This phrase comes from the days when felt hats were made using a mercury on some cheaper furs, that caused the hatter to go mad, thus the "mad hatter" in Alice In Wonderland. Mercury poisoning caused tremors, brain damage, tooth loss, slurred speech, and more. A "mad hatter" was one to be avoided. I think the lesson to be learned is 1) don’t make your own hats and 2) don’t use mercury!

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Be careful, you might get the wrong end of the stick…

Posted by Gregov on 5th March 2008

wrong end of the stick -If you imaged the most disgusting origin then you were right! I’ve heard two explanations that vary slightly. One comes from the outhouse days when there were no flushing toilets and the other dates back much earlier, to the days of the Roman baths. Regardless, the outcome was the same! The person in the next stall may have asked for their neighbor to "pass the stick," instead of toilet paper since that was yet to exist. The stick had a sponge on one end and if the recipient grabbed the wrong end, they’d be getting the wrong end of the stick. Most definitely unpleasant!

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Should I use an upper case letter for the heading?

Posted by Gregov on 4th March 2008

upper and lower case letters – I’ve heard that the term started when letters were hand carved out of wood and were then laid out to be type set. The letters were kept on a two shelves in the work space…the big letters, or the upper case ones were kept on the top or "upper" shelf and the small or lower case letters were kept on the "lower" shelf to make it easy for the printer to keep things organized.

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