Well, we made it through the holidays, and here we are in 2024! Happy New Year to you all!
I thought it would be fun to start the new year out with a bit of new knowledge, to give us all some things to muse about. It began when I was giving a client a massage last week, and we were chatting about the things we used to say as a child. How we got onto that subject, I fail to remember, but it was amusing. I said "Remember when we used to pick dandelion's, and put our thumb under the flower, and say, "Mama had a baby and it's head popped off", and we would send the flower flying with a flick of our thumb?". My client looked at me with a sort of startled expression, and said, "No! Why would we DO that?", and I began to wonder......
So I was with my cousin Tammy Lexvold a few days later, and I asked her the same question, and she laughed at the memory and said Yes! More perplexed than ever, I asked her, "Why would we say such an awful thing?" and she did not know. It was just one of those funny (?) things we said as a kid. So I began down the rabbit hole of strange sayings, to uncover more of these things we don't know where they came from, or even what they mean??
Starting with "Sick as a dog". Why were only DOGS sick? I never heard Sick as a Cat. Or a Fish..... Why did the Dog get the notorious honor? It came from the early 1700's, when dogs ran free and carried diseases, and weren't like the companions they are today. Being on their own, they ate rotting food, and carried the Plague and other diseases, and could become very ill. The phrase is said to have been coined in 1705, meaning "Very ill, from a stomache point of view".
Ok, this search was becoming more interesting, so I looked up another. Where were you if you were "Up a Blind Alley?" This phrase was coined in about 1874, used to describe someone that was following a course of action that leads nowhere, like the first alleys that only went so far, and you'd hit a wall, or an undesirable outcome.
How about "Long in the Tooth"? Well, back in the horse-trading era, when someone went to purchase a horse, their old age was determined by the length of it's teeth. So, if someone says you are long in the tooth, it is not a compliment!
"Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining" was first coined by John Milton in 1634 in his masque called Comus, when he penned, "Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud Turn forth her silver lining on the night?" Meaning? You can derive some benefit from every bad thing that happens to you. A lesson to cling to!
"Hold your Horses" was an early 19th century entreaty to be patient, and just hold on and see what happens. Not bad advice there, either.
"At the Drop of a Hat" means something that will happen immediately, as in, "we can leave at the drop of a hat".
"A Shot in the Dark" describes a situation where there will be little chance of success, like a wild guess. It was coined in 1841, but wasn't seen in print until 1895 in The Saturday Review, where George Bernard Shaw used it in a article that read, "Never did a man make a worse shot in the dark."
Ok, here's a good one. "Watch your P's and Q's!" Well P stands for pints and Q stands for Quarts in this one. In the old Irish pubs, the bartender would tell his patrons to watch so their Pints and Quarts of beer didn't run dry, and if they did? Why then, old chap, "Wet your Whistle". Yep! The handles of the mugs used to serve spirits to the customers had a whistle built into the handle so you could let the barkeep know to bring another!
Well, I bet now you are thinking up your own sayings that make no sense, and believe me, there are hundreds out there! Google is a great resource for things you never knew you wanted to know, and you will find many sayings there. However, in my research, I never did find what that dandelion one meant! So, if you used to say that, or you run across the meaning, please let me know!