Month: June 2021

a load of old cobblers

“A load of old cobblers” is British slang for “what nonsense!” and as an exclamation of derision or disbelief. The phrase began to be widely used from the 1960s and is still in use. The first example in print of the full phrase “a load of cobblers” appears to be from the British popular music magazine Melody Maker, October 1968.…

doldrums

The word “doldrums” means a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, listlessness, or depression. In the late 1700s, the word as applied to people meant dull or sluggish. This probably derived from “dol,” meaning “dull” with its form taken from “tantrum.” A tantrum was a fit of petulance and passion, a doldrum was a fit of sloth and dullness. Today…

knock on wood

“Knock on wood” (or “touch wood”) is a superstitious phrase said in order to stave off bad luck. It’s a way of seeking protection against the envy of evil spirits and the anger of the gods, who take a dim view of humans being too proud to be properly grateful for their good luck. It’s a way to avoid tempting…

graffiti

“Graffiti” (both singular and plural) is writing or drawings on a wall or other surface, usually without permission and within public view. Graffiti has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to ancient Egypt, Greece, and the Roman Empire. Graffiti often has a reputation as part of a subculture that rebels against authority. “Graffiti” is from the Italian word…

your mind’s eye

Your “mind’s eye” is your visual memory or imagination. Common examples of mental images include daydreaming, the mental visualization that occurs while reading a book, and the pictures summoned by athletes during training or before a competition. This ability to create mental representations of things, people, and places that are absent from your visual field is important for problem-solving, memory,…

barbarian

 1: a person from an alien land, culture, or group believed to be inferior, uncivilized, or violent — used chiefly in historical references 2: a barbarous person, a rude, crude, brutal, cruel person (1300s) Barbarians can be members of any nation judged by some to be less civilized or orderly, such as a tribal society, primitive nomads, or social class…

the ninth word herd

Crotchety — given to crotchets: subject to whims, crankiness or ill temper. (1825) “Crotchet” means a small hook, a brooch, a peculiar device, or a highly individual and usually eccentric opinion or preference which may result in the aforesaid crankiness. ~~~~~~~~~~ Duffle — a coarse heavy woolen material with a thick nap, or a slang word for a sailor’s belongings,…

tontine

tontine A “tontine” is an investment plan for raising capital, devised in the 17th century and relatively widespread in the 18th and 19th centuries. Louis XIV of France used tontines to save his ailing treasury and to fund municipal projects. Each investor pays a sum into the tontine. Each investor then receives annual interest on the capital invested. As each…

Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!

This term is a command to go as fast as you can, at maximum power. This saying is credited to David Glasgow Farragut (1801-1870) – a US naval officer, who became famous for his service to the Union during the American Civil War. In 1864, at the Battle of Mobile Bay, he refused to retreat, shouting the now famous phrase. …