Month: October 2015

barge in

Or, in other words: interrupt, break in on, muscle in on, intrude on, infringe on, burst in on, butt in, elbow your way in. The phrase comes from ‘barge.’ Used as a noun, it is defined as a capacious, flat-bottomed vessel, usually intended to be pushed or towed, for transporting freight or passengers. Used as a verb, ‘barge’ means to…

all that glitters is not gold

Meaning that not everything which is shiny and superficially attractive is valuable. This can apply to people, places, or things that promise to be more than they really are. The expression originated in or before the 12th century and may date back to Aesop. Shakespeare is the best-known writer to have expressed the idea that shiny things aren’t necessarily precious…

over a barrel

If you are over a barrel you are in deep trouble, helpless, in someone else’s power. Before CPR was taught as a life-saving maneuver, a drowning victim would be placed face down over a barrel and the barrel would be rolled back and forth in a effort to empty the lungs of water. It was rarely effective. On occasion, some…

whole nine yards

This post, a repeat of one I did in July, 2014, is for Charlotte, who wonders where the expression came from. The whole nine yards (whole six yards, whole enchilada, whole shooting match, whole shebang, whole kit and caboodle) is a colloquial American phrase meaning ‘everything, the whole lot, the full story,’ as in, “The lecturer gave us the whole…

ironclad contract

When it originated, this phrase  was meant literally. An ironclad battleship was covered in iron and, when first built, was probably impervious to attack. Similarly, an ‘ironclad’ contract is unbreakable. An ‘ironclad’ promise can be believed wholeheartedly. Should you be arrested on ‘ironclad’ charges, the iron gates of prison will clang shut behind you. But give this some thought: though…

showboat

1. To have a visibly exaggerated idea of ones own skills, talents, or abilities.  2. To exhibit an enormous amount of unfounded pride for a skill which is actually mediocre. 3. a boat, especially a paddle-wheel steamer, used as a traveling theater. 4. a person, especially an athlete, who performs in an ostentatiously sensational manner calculated to draw attention; a…

sleep tight

In other words, sleep well! You often hear this phrase as part of the rhyme: ‘good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.’ Here is one common theory about the source of the phrase. Early beds had ropes tied across the wooden frame in a criss-cross pattern. A straw mattress was then put on top of the ropes. Over…