Month: November 2018

in the nick of time

These days, “in the nick of time” means just in time or at the last possible moment. However, the expression began prior to the 1500s as “pudding time.” In those medieval times, pudding was a savory dish, usually made of sausage or haggis, and was served at the beginning of a meal. Therefore, to arrive at pudding time was to…

catch lightning in a bottle

To “catch lightening in a bottle” means to capture something powerful and elusive and then be able to hold it and show it to the world. It can also be defined as accomplishing a nearly impossible task, or a moment of creative brilliance, This American idiom originated in the 1800s, very likely as a reference to Benjamin Franklin’s electricity experiment,…

short takes

Odds and sods — another English version of bits and pieces Have rocks in one’s head — be stupid. (Slang; 1940s) Cool as a cucumber — calm, relaxed, in control of your emotions. (1732) Lie low — keep out of sight, bide one’s time (Shakespeare, 1599) Alike as two peas in a pod — two identical items or people (1500s)…

going nineteen to the dozen

“Going nineteen to the dozen” means going at breakneck speed. Apparently, it arose during the heyday of the Cornish tin and copper mines, which were often hit by floods. In the 1700s, coal-powered, steam-driven pumps were installed to clear the water. When working at the top rates, the pumps could clear nineteen thousand gallons of water for every twelve bushels…