Month: May 2021

mortar and pestle

mortar and pestle  “Mortar and pestle” are implements used to prepare ingredients or substances by crushing and grinding them into a fine paste or powder in kitchen, laboratory, and pharmacy. The mortar is a bowl. The pestle is a heavy, blunt club-shaped object. The substance to be ground, which may be wet or dry, is placed in the mortar, and…

eat, drink, and be merry

eat, drink, and be merry “Eat, drink and be merry (for tomorrow we may die)” is a proverb that promotes enjoying life in the moment because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring and maybe there won’t be a tomorrow. The proverb came from the Bible. Ecclesiastes 8:15: “Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under…

in like Flynn

This rhyming phrase has long been associated with Errol Flynn, an Australian actor who had a reputation for womanizing, drinking, and brawling.  In November 1942, two under-age girls accused him of statutory rape. A group was organized to support Flynn, named the American Boys’ Club for the Defense of Errol Flynn (ABCDEF); its members included William F. Buckley, Jr. The…

monkey’s uncle

The term “monkey’s uncle,” in the idiom “well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!” is used to express complete surprise, amazement or disbelief. It can also be used to acknowledge the impossibility of a situation, in the same way that “pigs might fly” is used. The term is assumed to be a reference to Darwin’s Origin of Species of 1859, in…

the eighth word herd

Cater-cornered — diagonally placed or four-cornered. (American, 1880s) Kitty-cornered and catty-cornered are more common in actual usage. ~~~~~~~~ Catawampus — an imaginary fierce wild animal or hobgoblin. As an adjective, it means fierce, savage, destructive, askew, or cater-cornered.  (American, 1864) The second element may be related to Scottish “wampish,” which means to “to wriggle or twist.” ~~~~~~~~ Catamount — an…

ruckus

A “ruckus” is a noisy fight or minor disturbance, a commotion, much ado about very little.  “The dogs would set off quite a ruckus when they heard something in the woods.” Some writers suggest that “ruckus” is a combination of two words, “rumpus” and “ruction,” with quite different origins. “Rumpus” was coined in the 1700s by European students to describe…

my two cents worth

“My two cents’ worth” is an opinion. The idiom comes from 15th-century British use of twopence or tuppence to mean “of little or no value.” The American “two bits,” meaning 25 cents, is used in a similar way. In the past, many goods or services have borne a low price, such as twopenny ale, twopenny post, even twopenny rope (an…

counting sheep

Counting sheep is a mental discipline used as a way of putting oneself to sleep. What you’re supposed to do is imagine an endless series of identical white sheep jumping over a fence, and count them as they go. Presumably, occupying the mind with something simple, repetitive, and rhythmic will be so boring that you fall asleep. An early reference…