Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ilene Evans
Language Usage #18-25

18. “Broke Down”
The words to a blues song by Mary Flowers keep running thru my head – uh, oh! Earworm! She says that she’s got a “broke down” engine – it just gave up the ghost.” She goes on to lament about her car pr lost love or some kind of disappointing thing in her life. Well the phrase means something that has collapsed, given way or been destroyed in some way.

19. “On its last legs”
It is said when something or someone is about to stop working, close to dying. I have been thinking about my rusty old van. And I am afraid that it is giving me warnings about having fought a good fight and it may be getting ready to finish the race.

20. “High Time”
“It is high time you got to your homework!” It used to be simply a way to signal alert to get going and get a move on. Now it has a reference to doing drugs and getting high. There is a magazine about Marijuana called High Times. What will they think of next? There is a Miss High Times there is a High Time Cannabis Cup. Wow!

21. “Ne’er do well”
The term is used to describe a person with perceived negative aspects. That is the way my mother referred to certain people who she thought were irresponsible or wasting their life away. The term "ne're-do-well" is a contraction of "never do well". It can mean someone who is idle, self-indulgent and worthless.

22. “Always wantin' something for nothing”
The phrase is usually you can’t get something for nothing. I remember the first story I heard Len Cabral tell he described Noh Lobe and a trickster who always wanted to get something for nothing. Now it is used in reference for people with a shopping addiction.

23. “Nitty-gritty” n.
the essential substance or details of a matter , to be involved with the Fundamental, direct and practical. At least that’s what I thought it meant.
(Current usage/news)How our politically-correct police chiefs have banned the phrase nitty-gritty for being racist (oh, and 'good egg' is outlawed too!) It was the moment a startled minister discovered at first hand the stranglehold political correctness has on the police. Addressing rank and file officers at their annual conference, Home Office minister John Denham had referred to the "nitty-gritty". Sorry, said Metropolitan Police constable Chris Jefford, but that phrase is banned. ... The phrase - said to have its origins in the 18th Century slave traders' phrase for the debris left at the bottom of a slave ship after a voyage. A visit to the hold was described as 'going to the nitty-gritty'. ... PC Jefford later expanded on other phrases that were considered likely to cause offence. They include the saying 'you're a good egg'. This is linked to the slang expression 'egg and spoon' which rhymes with the highly derogatory name for black people, 'coon'. ... 'There is no actual list of banned words. It just depends on what someone finds offensive,' said PC Nixon. ... He told how an officer of Spanish origin had recently objected to the term 'Spanish practices' being used. Another words said to be outlawed is 'pikey' - a slang term for gipsies or travellers.(extract from the "Daily Mail", article by Ben Taylor)

24. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”
Bathed in beauty. Extraordinary
This saying first appeared in the 3rd century BC in Greek. It didn't appear in its current form in print until the 19th century, but in the meantime there were various written forms that expressed much the same thought. In 1588, the English dramatist John Lyly, in his Euphues and his England, wrote: " neere is Fancie to Beautie, as the pricke to the Rose, as the stalke to the rynde, as the earth to the roote."
Shakespeare expressed a similar sentiment in Love's Labours Lost, 1588:
Good Lord Boyet, my beauty, though but mean,Needs not the painted flourish of your praise:Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye,Not utter'd by base sale of chapmen's tongues
Benjamin Franklin, in Poor Richard's Almanack, 1741, wrote:
Beauty, like supreme dominion Is but supported by opinion
David Hume's Essays, Moral and Political, 1742, include:
"Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them."
The person who is widely credited with coining the saying in its current form is Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (née Hamilton), who wrote many books, often under the pseudonym of 'The Duchess'. In Molly Bawn, 1878, there's the line "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", which is the earliest citation of it that I can find in print.

25. Grand Slam
It is my favorite meal at Denny’s. It is win, win, win , win , win. But it started with Bridge. It is when someone wins all the tricks during the play of one hand.
It is most widely known nowadays as the name for the feat of winning all the four major tennis competitions in one year. It is widely reported that the American journalist Allison Danzig brought the term grand slam from the card table to the sporting arena, when using it to refer to the achievement by the Australian Donald Budge in 1938.

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