Month: November 2021

November word herd

Living daylights — idiom for “eyes” (early 1700s). The “eyes” meaning began going out of use in the 1800s, and the phrase “beating the daylights out of someone,” meaning a severe beating, emerged. Now generally used only as an intensifier, such as “to scare the living daylights out of someone.” A poem by Augustus Peirce: The Rebelliad, 1842: The people…

frisbee

A “frisbee” is a gliding toy or sporting item that is usually made of plastic and roughly 8 to 10 inches in diameter. It is used as a toy or in competitions for throwing and catching, as in flying disc games. The frisbee actually began in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1871, with the Frisbie Pie Company. Students from nearby universities would…

on the fritz

“On the fritz” originated in the early 1900s, meaning “out of order,” or “in bad condition,” or “defective,” referring to the malfunctioning of an appliance. I might say, “the computer is on the fritz again.” My mother, who was born in Britain, would have said, “on the blink.” Another synonym is “on the bum.” “On the blink” may allude to…

sweet fanny adams

“Sweet Fanny Adams” is a euphemism for “sweet fuck all” and has been in use since at least the mid 1900s. It was originally used to express total downtime or inaction, then broadened to mean anything badly substandard, and now means “nothing at all.” The “sweet Fanny Adams” phrase came from the murder of a child in England in August…

filibuster

A “filibuster” is a means of obstruction. It’s a political procedure where some members of a  parliament debate over a proposed piece of legislation to delay or completely prevent a vote being taken on the proposal. It is sometimes referred to as “talking a bill to death.” This stalling tactic comes from Ancient Roman times and could also be called…

flea market

A “flea market” (or swap meet) is generally a street market, selling secondhand goods. This type of market is often seasonal, but some operate year-round and the emphasis is on used goods, collectibles, antiques and vintage clothing. In a full-time business, vendors require skill in following retro and vintage trends, as well as selecting merchandise which will please their customers.…

flotsam and jetsam

“Flotsam and jetsam” are odds and ends, bits and pieces, useless or discarded objects. Flotsam and jetsam are usually used together nowadays although the words, in a variety of spellings, have separate meanings and were frequently used independently in the 1600s. Today, each word has a specific meaning under maritime law, to describe two types of marine debris. Flotsam is…

doodle

“Doodles” are random drawings or scribbles made while a person’s attention is otherwise occupied. The word doodle first appeared in the early 1600s to mean a fool or simpleton. It may derive from the German Dudeltopf or Dudeldop, meaning simpleton or noodle. It is the origin of the early 1700s verb to doodle, meaning “to swindle or to make a…