Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bob ISNT my uncle?

  • The Lord willing and the creek don't rise.
  • Don't get your panties in a wad, else I'll flip you the bird as I bum rush you outta here.
  • I have a bone to pick with you make no bones about it, you'll pay through the nose as you've gotten under my skin and gotten my dander up.
  • I can no longer turn a blind eye to this and I'm not making a mountain out of a mole's hill.

Wow! That seemed like utter gibberish, but really were all things my dad would say when I was growing up. I always thought it was colorful, but I grew up wondering what it all meant. Similarly, I had a co-worker who routinely would figure out something difficult only to proclaim "And Bob's Your Uncle!". Again I was left to wonder where that nonsense comes from (count on my prepositions to be left hanging).

There are some really fantastic websites out there to help us with these curious sayings.

I've randomly (or so you may think) a few of my favorites from the nonsense above to give you a flavor of meaning, which when added to ramen noodles gives you saying-flavored lunch.

http://www.phrases.org.uk is a great resource for idioms, phrases and proverbs.

1. The Lord willing and the creek don't rise. If I had a dollar for every time my dad said that, well I could be a full time blog writer. Seems that this is fairly straight forward In that if you planned to be somewhere and heavy rains caused the river, stream or creek to rise, you were unlikely to cross and hence would not be there. This was along the lines of "come Hell or high water." Legend has it that in the Midwest, the Creek Indians would routinely ambush westward travelers, so in this case, one hoped that the Creek would not send a war or marauding party to impede your arrival. This was a farewell on the Grand Ole Opry in the 1950s and likely where my dad heard it.

2. I have a bone to pick with you "Bone to pick," dates back to the 16th century, simply refers to a dog chewing endlessly on, and "picking clean," a large bone. A "bone to pick" is thus a subject or issue that is expected to require considerable discussion or argument. Fido isn't planning to share.

3. bum rush "Bum's rush"- I believe it means to move blindly. Making a rush or charge straight up yours, or someone elses, rear. I wonder if it has a military origin. Anyway, it's probably English, perhaps a Brit could answer you better. OR Bum's rush is typically used to indicate the way you hustle someone OUT as you would a bum (down-and-outer probably trying to cadge something--money or drinks).

4. turn a blind eye Admiral Horatio Nelson is supposed to have said this when wilfully disobeying a signal to withdraw during a naval engagement. Tales of that sort, especially when they are about national heroes like Nelson, tend to be exaggerated or entirely fictitious. That doesn't appear to be the case here though and there's very good evidence to show that Nelson was indeed the source of this phrase. In the naval battle of Copenhagen in 1801 Nelson lead the attack of the British fleet against a joint Danish/Norwegian enemy. The British fleet of the day was commanded by Admiral Sir Hyde Parker. The two men disagreed over tactics and at one point Hyde Parker sent a signal (by the use of flags) for Nelson to disengage. Nelson was convinced he could win if he persisted and that's when he 'turned a blind eye'.

5. pay through the nose PAY THROUGH THE NOSE - "Be charged an exorbitant price. Why nose? One superstition is that this kind of paying is as irksome as a nosebleed. Another tale has it that the Danes levied a tax on the Irish in the 9th century, and that anyone who failed to pay it was punished by having his nose slit. In any event, we find Andrew Marvell writing in 1672 (in 'The Rehearsal Tranposed' (: "Made them pay it most unconsciously and through the Nose." From "The Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers

So many cool phrases, now you know where to look. Armed with a new curiosity, you can be better informed and perhaps wittier at parties, and Bob's your uncle!

6. Bob's your uncle This one may be the most fun as there is no decisive understanding of its origin. In fact there are 3 possibilities: British Nepotism, a song, or a slang term. They are all fun, but only one can be the chicken from whence the other 2 eggs were laid. I will let you decide. http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/bobs-your-uncle.html

So what mad phrases did you always wonder about that you will wonder no longer?


  1.  "Cat got your tongue"?   I mean, I've been around cats all my life, and not once has one tried to 'get my tongue'.  That site wasn't exactly forthcoming with oodles of information about it, either.

  2. So you missed the childlike lighthearted imagery of http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/cat-got-your-tongue.html but I am glad you didn't miss the point of the blog. As we know, we are both lighthearted children, so we get it. Shhhh!

  3. I saw the listing, but alas, when it comes to explaining why and how it came about, the cat got the site's tongue.




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