Month: September 2017

sing for your supper

Earn a favor or benefit by providing a service. It’s the same idea as having to wash dishes to pay for your meal at a restaurant. Sing for Your Supper is an American popular song by composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart. The song was debuted in their 1938 Broadway musical The Boys from Syracuse. The lyrics describe a…

stick to your guns

Stand up for your rights, and refuse to compromise or change despite criticism. “I’ll stick to my guns on this matter. I’m sure I’m right.” The phrase is based on the military meaning of ‘stick to your guns’: to continue shooting at an enemy although it puts you in great danger or, indeed, when all appears to be lost. Apparently…

to boot

Moreover, in addition to, as well as, besides, to advantage, into the bargain. It has nothing to do with footwear or feet. It’s entirely unrelated to the more recent English word ‘boot,’ the one that may give you blisters. But it is kin to the English words ‘better’ and ‘best.’ According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the original ‘boot’ is…

get-go

From the beginning.  It’s generally agreed that this phrase came from American Black English during the middle 1960s. It’s been popular in sports journalism, perhaps because of its catchy, alliterative quality, but also because it’s informal and conversational. The earliest record of the phrase is from 1966, when it appeared in a story by Toni Cade Bambera, a writer, civil…

talk the hind leg off a donkey

To talk incessantly, either persuasively, or tiresomely. Someone who can talk the hind leg off a donkey definitely has the gift of the gab. There are many other things that can have their legs talked off, including chairs, dogs, stoves, horses, and elephants, though I’ve never heard any of those used. Possibly arising in Ireland around the early 1800s, the…

break a leg

In the theater world, people typically say ‘Break a leg’ to wish actors and musicians good luck before they go on stage to perform. Other superstitions claim that it is bad luck to whistle in a theatre, or to say the final line of a play during dress rehearsal. According to this theory, wishing someone ‘good luck’ would be invoking…

romance

For many people, ‘romance’ may trigger an image of two people strolling in Paris or Rome, speaking French or Italian, and gazing happily at each other. It is often assumed that certain languages acquired the attribute ‘romance’ because of their beautiful romantic sounds.  Not true! Historically, ‘romance’ means ‘of Rome.’ As the Roman Empire disintegrated, the Latin word romanticus (of…