I’m head over heels in love with words. Unusual ones. Obscure ones. Exotic ones. And the stories behind them. Like the invaluable phrase ~ as mad as a hatter. Don’t you wonder why a good honest hatter is regarded as more prone to lunacy than, say, a tailor? I do.
Are you a rasorial searcher, always after words? The English poet W. H. Auden was once asked to teach a poetry class for 20 students. Two hundred applied to study with him. When asked how he chose his students, he said he picked the ones who actually loved words. (I’m sure I would have been one of the chosen, and if you’re still reading this, you would have too.)
Heavens to Betsy! Who knows why chance words strike people as worth repeating?
I can still hear the jitters-making scalp-tightening sound of my mother’s voice. Sit down. I have a bone to pick with you. Did she let me stew in my own juices for a while? You bet she did.
Hold your horses, young lady, Dad reminded me often enough, You’re not dry behind the ears yet. End of discussion.
I hear sayings like these every day. Are they just homely expressions from Puritan days? Some are. But they come from all periods of history ~ early translations of the Bible, the circus, the theater, the Royal Brits.
Like making a mountain out of a wanti-tump (a molehill, Saxon).
The story goes that Britains’ William III died from a freak accident.
One fateful day, his mount, Sorrel, stumbled over a molehill in a park near Hampton Court Palace, throwing His Majesty and shattering his right collarbone. As William recalls, ” I tried to pull her up by the reins but she fell first forwards and then sideways, and I fell on my right shoulder on level ground.”
Not content to sit on the sidelines and heal in the country, William chose to bite the bullet and insisted on returning to London. The trip in his royal coach was over very bumpy roads, aggravating his condition. Infection set in, and despite taking doctor-prescribed powdered crabs’ eyes, he quickly bit the dust.
The king’s enemies gleefully toasted “the little gentlemen in the black velvet waistcoat” – referring to the maulwurffe (mole, Old Teutonic) that piled up that hazardous mound.
If words are your cup of tea, this über-cool Mental Floss YouTube is right up your alley. Like campy tchotchkes? Neat but not gaudy.
What’s your favorite curious word,
or odd expression?