|Golf||In Scotland, a new game was invented. It was entitled
Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden.... and thus the word GOLF entered into the English language.
|Wet Your Whistle||Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim or handle of their ceramic cups. When they needed refill, they used the whistle to get some service. "Wet your whistle" is he phrase inspired by this practice|
|Mind Your P's and Q's||In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts.
So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them mind their own pints and quarts and settle down. It's where we get the phrase "mind your P's and Q's"
|Honeymoon||It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month we know today as the honeymoon|
|Sleep Thight||In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames
by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the
bed firmer to sleep on.
Hence the phrase "goodnight, sleep tight".
|Gossip||Early politicians required feedback from the public to
determine what was
considered important to the people. Since there were no telephones, TV's
or radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs and bars who were told to "go sip some ale" and listen to people's
conversations and political concerns. Many assistants were dispatched at
different times. "You go sip here" and "You go sip there." The two words
"go sip" were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and
thus, we have the term "gossip,"
|Not Playing with a Full Deck||Common entertainment included playing cards. However, there
was a tax
levied when purchasing playing cards but only applicable to the "ace of
spades." To avoid paying the tax, people would purchase 51 cards instead.
Yet, since most games require 52 cards, these people were thought to be
stupid or dumb because they weren't "playing with a full deck."
|Straight Laced||Ladies wore corsets which would lace up in the front. A
tightly tied lace
was worn by a proper and dignified lady as in "straight laced."
Mind Your Bee's Wax
|Needless to say, personal hygiene! Left much room for improvement.
As a result, many women and men had developed acne scars by adulthood. The
women would spread bee's wax over their facial skin to smooth out their
complexions. When they were speaking to each other, if a woman began to
stare at another woman's face she was told "mind your own bee's wax."
Should the woman smile, the wax would crack, hence the term "crack a
smile?" Also, when they sat too close to the fire, the wax would melt,
and therefore, the expression "losing face."
|Chairman||In the late 1700s, many houses consisted of a large room
with only one
chair. Commonly, a long wide board was folded down from the wall and used for dining. The "head of the household" always sat in the chair while everyone else ate sitting on the floor. Once in a while an invited guest would be offered to sit in this chair during a meal whom was almost always a man. To sit-in the chair meant you were important and in charge.
Sitting in the chair, one was called the "chair man." Today, in business,
we use the expression/title "Chairman
|Big Wig||As incredible as it sounds, men and women took baths only
twice a year!
(May & October) Women always kept their hair covered while men shaved their heads (because of lice and bugs) and wore wigs. Wealthy men could afford good wigs. The wigs couldn't be washed so to clean them, they could carve out a loaf of bread, put the wig in the shell and bake it for30 minutes. The heat would make the wig big and fluffy, hence the term "big wig." Today we often use the expression "Here comes the Big Wig" because someone appears to be or is powerful and wealthy.
|Cost Arm and a Leg||In George Washington's days, there were no cameras. One's
either sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington showed
him standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others
showed both legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not based on how many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted. Arms and legs are "limbs;" therefore, painting them would costthe buyer more. Hence, the expression, "Okay, but it'll cost you an arm and a leg."
Raining Cats and Dogs
The Canopy Bed
|Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the dogs, cats and other small animals (mice rats, and bugs lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof-hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs." There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could really mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.|
|During the 1600's the floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, hence the saying "dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they kept adding more thresh until when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entry way-hence, a "thresh hold."|
|peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."||They cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while-hence the rhyme, "peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."|
|Chew the Fat||Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man "could bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat."|
|Trench Mouth||Most people did not have pewter plates, but had trenchers, a piece of wood with the middle scooped out like a bowl. Often trenchers were made from stale pieces of bread which was so old and hard that they could use them for quite some time. Trenchers were never washed and a lot of times worms and mold got into the wood and old bread. After eating off wormy moldy trenchers, one would get "trench mouth."|
|Upper Crust||Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or "upper crust."|
|The Burial Wake||Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up-hence the custom of holding a "wake."|
Grave Yard Shift
Saved by the Bell
|England is old and small and they started out running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a "bone-house" and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, one out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they thought they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the "graveyard shift") to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be "saved by the bell" or was considered a "dead ringer."|