the twelfth word herd

Drawing a bead — taking careful aim with a gun, or focusing on a plan or goal. (1830) The “bead” in this expression comes from the small metal knob that forms the front sight of a gun, and resembles the small perforated, usually spherical bodies, of glass, amber, metal, wood, etc., used as an ornament, either strung in a series to form a necklace, bracelet, etc., or sewn upon various fabrics.


Barmy — an adjective, meaning mad, crazy, extremely foolish, excited, flighty, empty-headed (full of nothing but froth), muddle-headed. It comes from the noun “barm” which means the froth that forms on the top of fermenting malt liquors. This froth is used to leaven bread and cause fermentation in other liquors. If you have a frothy, insubstantial brain, then you’re “barmy.” (1585)


Upstart — a person who has risen suddenly to wealth or high position, especially one who behaves arrogantly. A start-up enterprise.


Not playing with a full deck — describes a person who is mentally deficient. “Deck” refers to a deck of cards. If not playing with the full set of 52 cards, a player will not do well. (1965) A popular but false story was circulated, saying the phrase dates back to the 1500s, when a tax was levied against decks of cards. The theory was that if you bought a deck with only 51 cards, you wouldn’t have to pay the tax, but would not then be playing with a full deck. A similar phrase is, “Doesn’t have both oars in the water.”


  One thought on “the twelfth word herd

  1. how9473
    September 8, 2021 at 7:35 am

    I have a comprehension question for you. I understand, use and enjoy all the four expressions today….but I don’t understand your title:”The twelve word herd”.Knowing you there is some witty connection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 8, 2021 at 8:04 am

      Sorry to disappoint you, but there’s nothing witty about the title. When I first started posting collections of words (some just don’t have enough history or story for a full post), I called them “word herds” because I liked that title. I could imagine a herd of words, like a herd of cattle, being whipped into shape. “Twelfth” is simply the number of word herds I’ve posted. So that’s just my method or organizing them! Maybe I’d better think up something much better for the rest!


  2. Leanne Taylor
    September 12, 2021 at 6:50 am

    Oh! Now I see –>
    It’s the difference between
    “twelfth” and “twelve”.

    (At this point,
    I don’t think I could erase
    the image of a “word herd” from my mind.;-))

    Please don’t change a thing!

    Liked by 1 person

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