hornswoggle

“Hornswoggle” means to bamboozle, bluff, deceive, delude, dupe, fool, hoodwink, trick, or swindle and is first recorded in the USA in the 1800s. A character in Jack London’s The Valley of the Moon (1913) bitterly complains, “We’re hornswoggled. We’re backed to a standstill. We’re double-crossed to a fare-you-well.” A few years later, P. G. Wodehouse used it in Little Warrior:…

butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth

This phrase means to be prim and proper, or demure and insincere, with a cool demeanor, the cool demeanor being the most important part. It is an old saying, and was included as a proverb in John Heywood’s collection of 1546. The saying is not easy to understand, since in these modern days of refrigerators, you could put butter in…

right up my alley

“Right up my alley” means something of special interest to me, something I like a lot, or something pleasingly familiar.  This idiom uses “alley” in the sense of “one’s own province or area,” a usage dating from the early 1600s. Francis Bacon used it this way in his essay Of Cunning (1612): “Such men…are good but in their own Alley.” …

Sasquatch

“Sasquatch” is the “official” name of Bigfoot; a creature popularly described as being human-like in form but massive in size and appetite, usually residing in the American/Canadian northwest. Often depicted as ape-like and bipedal, this hair-covered mammal is believed by arguably delusional people to be the last surviving link between modern man and our evolutionary past. Theory say it has…

goody two-shoes

Today, a “goody two-shoes” means someone who is virtuous in a coy, smug or sentimental manner. The phrase was popularized by the 1765 publication, in London, of The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes, a popular children’s story. At that time, the phrase described an excessively virtuous person or do-gooder. The plot, a variation of the Cinderella story, tells how Margery…

holy fool

The holy fool was an individual who behaved in an eccentric manner while pursuing a religious ideal.  The holy fool is found in many cultures, but particularly in the early Christian Church, where the fool’s actions could be termed “Foolishness for Christ.” Such individuals have historically been known as both “holy fools” and “blessed fools.” According to Christian ideas, foolishness…

out of the frying pan into the fire

We use the phrase “out of the frying pan into the fire” to describe moving from a bad or difficult situation to a worse one. This often happens because we’re trying to escape from the bad spot we’re in. This proverb originates from a Greek saying about running from the smoke right into the flame. Its first recorded use was…