Month: October 2017

ass over teakettle

Tumbling upside down, topsy-turvy. ‘Ass over teakettle’ is one of many variants of an expression meaning ‘head over heels; topsy-turvy; in confusion’. The usual British version is ‘ass over tip’ (or tit), which occurs in James Joyce’s Ulysses, among other works. This form also occurs in America. For instance, in The Grapes of Wrath Steinbeck has a character say, “You…

face the music

To accept criticism or other unpleasant consequences of your actions. “You were the one who stayed up so late last night, and now this morning you have to face the music.” The phrase first arises in the mid 19th century, and appears to be American. The earliest citation for the phrase is in The New Hampshire Statesman & State Journal,…

see a man about a dog

Often used in reply to an awkward question, this phrase usually means that the responder is unwilling to reveal the true nature of his or her business. It’s been a useful excuse for absenting oneself from company for about 150 years, though the real reason for slipping away has not always been the same. According to Eric Partridge, A Dictionary…

the book is out!

The Case of the Copycat Killer is book #5 in The Charger Chronicles series. For a book that’s half the size of a regular novel, it’s got a lot happening — science fiction, mystery and humor. Sorry, no cowboys or vampires. No ghosts, either! Here’s the back page blurb: The first murder victim was splattered like chunky tomato sauce across…

shaggy dog story

An extremely long-winded story that involves an excruciatingly detailed build-up leading, eventually, to a punchline that is only ‘funny’ as a practical joke where the listener has been tricked into paying close attention to a long, pointless story. Shaggy dog stories play upon the listener’s preconceptions of joke-telling. The audience listens with certain expectations, which are not met or met…

full of beans

To be peppy, energetic or frisky; to be in high spirits, rarin’ to go, feeling your oats, enthusiastic.  This phrase has been around for about a hundred and fifty years, and it seems generally understood that it arose in horse racing. Horse beans have been raised for fodder at least since Roman days, and they provided the animal with more…

going to hell in a handbasket

A situation getting rapidly out of hand and going downhill fast. Other versions would be ‘going to the dogs’ or ‘on a slippery slope.’ The first reference to ‘going to hell in a handbasket’ in print occurs in a 1714 entry in Samuel Sewall’s Diary, an American publication. Another is found in the House Documents of the US Congress, in…