Sept. 11, 2022



English is said to be one the hardest languages to learn due to our inconsistent spelling and grammar rules. I’m your host, Leah. Phil here, and I’m Steve. Or could it be from the strange ways we have of turning a phrase. Today we’ll talk about idioms, phrase and colloquialisms. 

Let’s talk about words.

In everyday language use, many concepts are expressed by multi-word expressions such as ‘break the ice’ which means to relieve social tension by means of a remark. These expressions are commonly known as idioms. They can be among the most difficult concepts for learners of a new language to acquire as the specific words may have little or nothing to do with the concepts they convey. From an article on idioms in we learn about two researchers name Pawley and Syder who in 1983 determined that there are literally hundreds of thousands of idioms in the English language. Two of the main sources of English language idioms are The Bible, particularly the King James Version of the Bible and, of course, The Bard; William Shakespeare. Part of our episode today will focus on idioms from these two sources.

By the way, did you know that there is a mysterious connection between the King James Bible and William Shakespeare? If you look at Psalm 46 in the KJV, begin counting words from the beginning. The 46th word is Shake. Now count words from the end. The 46th word is Spear. Is this just a coincidence or did perhaps the Bard (or someone) decide to place a little homage to Shakespeare in the midst of the Psalms? The King James was published in 1610. Shakespeare lived from 1564 to 1616, so it is possible that he may have had a hand in the translation and writing of the KJV. This is a mystery that will likely never be solved. 


From a website called we find a terrific article by Dr. Rebecca Denova titled 50 Biblical Phrases, Idioms and Metaphors. We are grateful to Dr. Denova and for allowing us to quote directly from this fine article. In this article she describes fifty commonly used idioms and metaphors that originate from the Bible. We aren’t going to cover all fifty of them, but we will hit several of the most familiar.

Fall From Grace     Imagine someone who held a high and respected position in an organization or community. They have a carefully maintained public image. Then word leaks out that behind the scenes the reality of their life doesn’t match the publicly groomed image. Their public image takes a terrifying tumble. They may even lose their place of employment. This has recently happened to a prominent professional athlete in our area. Such an individual has experienced a Fall From Grace. The phrase comes from the story of the disobedience of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, which resulted in their fall from immortality in the Garden of Eden into mortality. The phrase is utilized most often to describe a high-status individual who has fallen on hard times or is now subject to social disdain.

My Brother’s Keeper     This phrase also comes from Genesis. In chapter 4 we learn about two brothers, Cain and Abel. Cain murdered Abel because he was jealous of God’s favor toward him. In verse 9 we read, Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?" God wasn’t pleased with his response. The phrase today has come to mean that, yes, we are responsible for our behavior toward others. 

As Old As Methuselah     Genesis again refers to the age of several of the early patriarchs. Methuselah was the oldest of those referenced having lived 969 years. Today to refer to someone or something being as old as Methuselah, we take it to mean that the person or thing referenced is very old indeed.

Manna from Heaven & Man Does Not Live on Bread Alone     The book of Exodus tells of Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt to their promised land. Along the way they were fed with an unusual source of nourishment. Each morning God sent Manna to help them survive. Manna was a wafer-like substance that appeared on plants with the morning dew. Today the phrase Manna from Heaven indicates a divine intervention or an unearned gift from God. 

The Manna was great at first, but then some of the folks began to complain about the lack of variety. God then reminded the Israelites that life is more than mere survival, but that the soul should be nourished as well. “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8:3) Today the phrase Man Does Not Live By Bread Alone is often used as a reminder that life is more than mere survival. 

The Writing Is On The Wall      The 5th Chapter of the book of Daniel tells an interesting story. The time is during the reign of the Babylonian King Belshazzar son of Nebuchadnezzar who had conquered Jerusalem, sacked the Temple, and taken the Jews captive back to Babylon. One night Belshazzar threw a wild party for over a thousand of his subjects. He got the bright idea of bringing the golden cups and bowls from the Jewish Temple and using them for party wine goblets. Everything was merry until suddenly a giant hand appeared and begin writing on the palace wall. When King Belshazzar saw this, he was so terrified that his knees literally were knocking together. When Daniel was called to interpret the message, it wasn’t good news for the king. His life was about to be taken from him and his kingdom was to be divided among his enemies. Today the phrase “writing is on the wall” is an expression meaning that there is no way out of a bad situation.

Skin and Bones & Skin of My Teeth     In the book of Job, Job suffers relentlessly as a test of his faithfulness to God. “I am nothing but skin and bones; I have escaped only by the skin of my teeth.” (Job 19:20)  Today 'Skin and bones' refers to the bare essentials of life, while 'skin of my teeth' indicates a very narrow margin for something to happen as in a narrow escape.

Weighed in the Balance     When Job's friends claim that he must have sinned to account for his suffering, Job responded:  “let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless.” (Job 31:6) This phrase also appeared in Daniel’s reply to King Belshazzar after the writing on the wall incident. "You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting." Daniel 5:27. In Biblical times scales were of the balance beam variety. Today, weighed in the balance has come to mean giving equal consideration to two opposing views.

These are some phrases that many people get wrong.
For all 'intents and purposes' — not for all 'intensive purposes'

If you say "for all intensive purposes," you mean "for all these very thorough purposes," which doesn't make any sense. But "for all intents and purposes" means "for all the reasons I did this and all the outcomes." which does make sense.

Nip it in the 'bud' — this one makes me think of Barney Fife. The phrase means stopping something in the very beginning stages like stopping your child from developing a bad habit the very first time you notice it. The saying is “nip it in the bud” as in cutting off a new growth of a plant. Not “nip it in the butt” like biting someone in the rear as a vicious dog would do.

Should/could/would 'have' — not should/could/would 'of'
It’s not Should Of, It’s ‘Should Have.’ The contraction makes it sound like the word of is being used. Which reminds me of Chest Of Drawers. On various online garage sale type platforms I’ve seenChest of Drawers spelled out as Chester Drawers which sounds like someone named their underwear Chester.

I could care less vs I 'couldn't care less which is the correct saying.  This is a phrase I wish would just drop out of existence. Said correctly, it’s a double negative, everyone says it wrong even though it clearly makes no sense and even when said right (I 'couldn't care less.) it’s a double negative, and an awkward and cumbersome way of saying I DON’T CARE!

“Another thing coming”   Right Usage: “Another think coming”

You’ve probably been saying this incorrectly for your entire life. The actual saying that is centuries old is  “If that’s what you think, you’ve got another think coming.” Sounds very Dr. Suessical to me. Oh, The Thinks You Can Think if you’re willing to try.

Wrong Usage: “The spitting image”   Right Usage: “The spit and image”

I’ve heard this all my life said the wrong way. It’s actually supposed to be “The spit and image” and originates from the Bible. Kind of. the Bible says that God created Adam from dust and breathed life into him. Over the centuries the story had sort of morphed into the idea that God created Adam out of mud and his own divine spit. This evolved into a metaphor for parents “spitting” to create children who look just like them and the saying “spit and image” was formed. Over time it transformed into the “spitting image” metaphor we use today. 

Language changes over time in just this way so who’s to say that it’s right or wrong. Eventually the wrong becomes the preferred language and thus becomes “right.” But not Chester Drawers. That’s very funny but still very wrong.

Eat Crow     This means that you humbly admit you were wrong about something that you were strongly convinced you were right about. It’s such an odd turn of phrase though. This actually has ties to the Bible in that crow was an animal deemed to be unclean and unfit for eating.

No one is certain where the saying came from but according to one origin of the saying happened near the end of the Great War of 1812 when a US soldier crossed over enemy lines to hunt for food. He accidentally shot a crow during his trip, and a British soldier caught him in the act, forcing him to eat the bird. After taking a bite, the soldier managed to catch the Brit off-guard and wrestled back his gun from the soldier. He then forced the British soldier to take a bite of the crow.

Goodbye  Also from  Goodbye came from the 1590s term godbwye (1570s), a contraction of God be with ye. Also influenced the terms good-day, good evening, good night.  Similar in sentiment to the term “farewell” as wishing blessing and goodness on someone as you part ways.

This is also seen in the term Lullabye as you would “lull” a baby to sleep with hopes of “God being with ye”

For Everything There Is A Season     The book of Ecclesiastes is the source of several common phrases. This book is essentially a collection of an old man’s reflections on life. Most believe that Solomon was the author of Ecclesiastes. Among the most well know idioms from this book are,” There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) This was of course made quite famous by the 1965 song from a group called The Byrds. Their song included quite a few quotes from Ecclesiastes. Other idioms from Ecclesiastes include, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9), “As dead flies give perfume (ointment) a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.” (Fly in the Ointment - Ecclesiastes 10:1), and “Eat, Drink, and be Merry” Ecclesiastes 8:15 though I think that may have been taken a bit out of context.

Isaiah     The Old Testament prophet Isaiah gives us several common phrases. A Drop in a Bucket meaning a small amount or of little significance. “Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust” (Isaiah 40:15). No Rest for the Wicked is an indication that though the wicked may prosper now, God's justice will weigh them in the end. "There is no peace," says the Lord, "for the wicked." (Isaiah 48:22), and Like a Lamb to the Slaughter  “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7). This expression was later utilized in the New Testament to describe the crucifixion of Christ. Today the expression often means that an innocent person has no idea about what is about to happen to them. 

A House Divided against Itself Cannot Stand     Matthew details an account where some doubters stated that Jesus was able to cast out devils because he was a devil himself. Jesus exposed the folly of this poor reasoning by stating, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined and every city or household divided against itself will not stand." (Matthew 12:25) The line has come to mean that disagreements in a group will lead to its downfall. The line was famously used by Abraham Lincoln in an anti-slavery speech in 1858.

Casting Pearls Before Swine     “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6). 'Casting pearls before swine' is to provide something prized or valuable to someone who does not appreciate it.

Good Samaritan     Jesus was speaking to Jewish people when he used this surprising reference. To them, the Samaritans were a hated half-breed nation. There was nothing good about them, or so the Jews believed. In this story, a traveler had fallen among thieves and been robbed and beaten. Two religious leaders came along and looked the other way. “But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. (Luke 10:33) Jesus used this expression as a model of contrast. A Good Samaritan a person who helps someone, especially a stranger. This meaning carries on today. 

The Love of Money is the Root of All Evil     Often misquoted as Money is the Root of all Evil, this line from 1st Timothy clearly states that it is the love of money, above all other considerations, that eventually leads to downfall “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

Struck on the Road to Damascus     This is one of my favorite expressions. The reference is to the Apostle Paul who was initially not a follower of Christ. In fact he was a well known persecutor of those who were. He was on his way to Damascus to arrest Christian believers in that city when suddenly he was struck by a bright light as Jesus began speaking to him. His conversion occurred right there. The expression indicates a divine revelation or enlightenment that totally changes one’s life. 

Again, thanks to Dr. Denova and for allowing us to quote from their fine article.

White Elephant    Most of us know the term “White Elephant” through a crazy Christmas tradition of bringing a random and weird item to a Christmas celebration to be traded in a gift exchange game. Usually the weirder the gift the better. The definition of a White Elephant is an inconvenient thing that one does not know how to get rid of. Very apt description of what you usually end up with in a White Elephant gift exchange as the game is more about silliness and fun than meaningful gifting.

According to Wikipedia the term derives from the sacred white elephants kept by Southeast Asian monarchs in Burma, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.To possess a white elephant was (and still is in some places) regarded as a sign that the monarch reigned with justice and power, and that the kingdom was blessed with peace and prosperity. Because the animals were considered sacred and laws protected them from labor, receiving a gift of a white elephant from a monarch was simultaneously a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing because the animal was sacred and a sign of the monarch's favor, and a curse because the recipient now had an expensive-to-maintain animal he could not give away and could not put to much practical use.

Knock on Wood

Knocking on wood (also the phrase “touching wood”) is a superstitious tradition of literally touching, tapping, or knocking on wood, or merely stating that one is doing or intending to do so, in order to avoid "tempting fate" after making a favorable prediction or boast, or a declaration concerning one's own death or another unfavorable situation.

According to Wikipedia this originates with Christianity and links the practice to wooden crucifixes and the idea that the Christian cross would provide supernatural protection.

Alice in Wonderland     I love Lewis Carroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It's hard to truly appreciate the impact that the children’s story has made on modern culture. It was the first of its kind since children’s literature to date had been written more from the standpoint of presenting a moral lesson than for entertainment and the playful experimentation of imagination. The Wonderland experience also brought certain phrases into everyday language such as going “down the rabbit hole.”

Rabbit Hole         Almost immediately after the publication of Alice’s adventures the term down the rabbit hole became a well-used phrase meaning something that transports someone into a wonderfully (or worryingly) surreal state or situation. It the meaning has morphed overtime to now mean delving deeply into a subject to the extent of losing track of time or surroundings.

Mad as a Hatter     The term Matt is a Hatter, coming from the character the mad Hatter, is used to say that something is not just regular crazy but really really really crazy. I think that most people are aware that Hatters often were plagued with dementia caused by the mercury used in hat making. The term had been in use since 1835 to describe the medical condition if I'm affecting hat makers. Something you may not know is that Lewis Carroll was the first Children's book author to license his characters for use in other products so the characters, such is Alice and the Mad Hatter, had individual lives. This leads to what is known as the Frozen effect where the characters become familiar to a group of people wider than the readership of the book.

CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER    A quote from Alice that we here at Remnant Stew can certainly appreciate is when Alice eats something and then grows extremely tall she exclaims in amazement, “curiouser and curiouser.”

Jabberwocky       And finally one of my favorite words, Jabberwocky refers to meaningless speech and is something my children we're experts at as toddlers.

Info from


All right, now let’s shift over to The Bard of Avon a k a William Shakespeare. From a website called we find a terrific article titled Forty Common Words and Phrases from William Shakespeare. Much of the following information is paraphrased from that article.

As mentioned earlier, Shakespeare lived from 1564 to 1616. He wrote at lease 38 plays and over 150 short stories. He is believed to have introduced over a thousand words and phrases into the English language. He was definitely a master of the English Language. Though he may not have invented all of these, he certainly was the first to write them down. Here are some of the phrases that are still in use today.

All that glitters is not gold     OK, were fudging a bit here. The original quote from the Merchant of Venice reads “All that glisters is not gold.” We have somewhat modernized this to “glitters” We generally use this term after we discover that something that looks good at first turns out not to be so good after all. There is even a literal mineral meaning here as many a gold miner was often tricked by iron pyrite or fool’s gold.

Clothes Make The Man     This phrase from Hamlet implies that the way a person dresses can sometimes tell you something about who they are as a person. Of course, this is not always the case. You may remember from our Positively Presidential episode the case of General Zachary Taylor who did not like military pomp and uniform. A young West Point graduate mistook the general for an old farmer the first time he met him. 

Eaten Me Out Of House and Home     This phrase from Henry IV Act 2 is something that the parents of many teenagers can identify with. Those kids have eaten so much that there is no food left in the house! 

A Laughing Stock     No, this has nothing to do with raising hyenas for agriculture. This phrase from The Merry Wives of Windsor means to be made fun of or to be the butt of some joke. 

In a Pickle     Ah, the humble pickle! Historians believe that as long ago as 2,400 B.C. the Mesopotamians began the practice of soaking cucumbers in vinegar and sealing them in crockery jars. This is one of the oldest methods of food preservation. Cleopatra swore they were a major part of her healthy diet. Julius Caesar believed they would make his troops strong. Christopher Columbus loved traveling with them because they could survive long journeys and help prevent scurvy. How did this wonder food develop such a negative image as “In a pickle”? In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Alonzo says, ”How camest thou in this pickle?” To which Trinculo answers, “I have been in such a pickle since I saw you last.” Shakespeare may have borrowed from the Dutch phrase, “Sitting in the pickle” which meant to be intoxicated. Today the phrase means to be in trouble or in a situation that you cannot easily get out of. My personal theory is that it has something to do with the fact that pickle jars can be hard to open, but that is just my theory.

It's Greek To Me     Do you remember the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding? The bride’s father was very proud of his Greek heritage. He was always saying, “You give me any word and I will show you how that word comes from the Greek!” Well, he may have been exaggerating a bit, but the truth is that many of our words do have Greek roots dating back to the first century. In fact, the New Testament of the Bible was written in Greek. But of course, languages change over time. Today, only those who have spent extensive time studying can understand Greek. The phrase It’s Greek to Me from Julius Caesar means that you are admitting that you do not know or understand something.

Pound of Flesh     This somewhat grizzly phrase comes from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Saying that someone demands their pound of flesh means that they are intent on getting something they are entitled to even if it causes distress to someone else.  I’m talking about you Bank Overdraft Fees! I’m talking about you $300 ticket for rolling through a stop sign. I’m talking about you ridiculous HOA rules! 

Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On     No, I’m not talking about the creamy Oreo filling, though that comes close. This phrase from The Tempest refers to something that is so good that it is just like a dream. Remember our Sleep Episode? We quoted Dr. Seus as say, “You know you are in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams!” I’m fortunate to have married the girl of my dreams, so I can identify with this phrase.

Mullet Did either of you guys have a mullet hairstyle? C’mon, tell the truth. Everyone knows what the funky hairstyle looked like that started in the 70s, gained polarity in the 80s and managed to hang on well into 90s, business in the front and party in the back. 

But do you know where the word came from? While the hairstyle had already become a thing, the Beastie Boys coined the word Mullet with their 1994 release of the song “Mullet Head” about the iconic haircut. Talking about razor guards the song goes “#1 on the side and don't touch the back, #6 on the top and don't cut it wack, Jack.”

I have no idea where the BB got their term for it but before their song “Mullet-head” referred to a type of North American freshwater fish with a large, flat head. It was also used refer to someone stupid.

Tawdry     Tawdry is a word that isn’t often used anymore but its origin is so interesting I wanted to include it. It means showy but cheap and of poor quality. Usually referring to jewelry or accessories. 

Lace necklaces were an item customarily sold at the annual East Anglian fair on Oct. 17 commemorating St. Audrey (canonized queen of Northumbria who died 679). Her association with lace necklaces is that she supposedly died of a throat tumor, which she considered God's punishment for her youthful stylishness: She is quoted as saying, "I know of a surety that I deservedly bear the weight of my trouble on my neck, for I remember that, when I was a young maiden, I bore on it the needless weight of necklaces; and therefore I believe the Divine goodness would have me endure the pain in my neck, that so I may be absolved from the guilt of my needless levity, having now, instead of gold and pearls, the fiery heat of a tumor rising on my neck."

The trinkets sold at the celebrations were called Saint Audry’s necklaces and later shortened to T’Awdry’s necklaces. I have a niece named Audry, I need to tell her about this.

ODJ:   Pyrex Do you know what I’m talking about when I say Pyrex? You know the glassware you probably have in your kitchen right now? 

According to Wikipedia, Pyrex is a brand introduced by Corning Inc. in 1915 for a line of clear, low-thermal-expansion borosilicate glass. Borosilicate glass contains boron trioxide which creates a special glass that will not crack under extreme temperature changes like regular glass. It was developed for use in laboratories, but Corning Inc saw the potential for using it to produce durable kitchenware for use in the oven. Later when the dishwasher and microwave became common household appliances there was no worry that they would damage the resilient cookware. You probably have at least one piece of Pyrex in your kitchen now and your mother and grandmother likely had some too. 

You might not be aware of it, but Pyrex has changed over time. The Borosilicate glass formula is actually much more heat resistant than it has to be for regular at home kitchens so in 1998, when Corning sold the brand to World Kitchen LLC they started making the kitchenware from tempered soda-lime glass, a formula that is durable enough for kitchen use but not for laboratory type thermal temperatures.

Like I said you probably weren’t aware of it and can’t tell the difference between the old and the new Pyrex. But those who were painfully aware of the industry change were the entrepreneurial souls who made their living from producing recreational pharmaceuticals. That’s right the crack cocaine industry took the change very hard. As it turns out, turning cocaine into crack requires bringing the solution of water and powdered cocaine to a very high temperature and then rapidly cooling it. (Did you ever think that listening to Remnant Stew would give you an education in creating an illegal side hustle?) For years, crack makers would use the borosilicate glass Pyrex for their illicit needs. When the industry change happened though many illegal substance producers were injured when the soda lime glass would shatter from the thermal shock.

No worries though, the crack cocaine industry is adaptive and quickly switched over to stealing laboratory supplies for their clandestine operations.

I got my info from and Wikipedia.

The Lady Doth Protest Too Much     This famous saying from Hamlet was spoken by Queen Gertrude in response to the insincere overacting of another character who was accused of a misdeed. It has come to indicate doubt of a person’s sincerity regarding a strong denial. It implies that someone who vehemently denies something is hiding the truth. Or, as my elementary P.E. teacher, Ms. Knipp used to say, “Guilty dog barks first!”

Too Much of a Good Thing     Speaking of Oreo’s as we were a few minutes ago, I can remember going off to college and just going completely wild. Yes, I went to the store and bought a package of Oreos and a quart of milk and took them back to my dorm and downed the whole delicious mess. It was quite wonderful until the middle of the night when I started receiving hate mail from my stomach. This phrase from As You Like It encapsules what I discovered that night that I had indulged in too much of a good thing!

Wear One’s Heart On One’s Sleeve     This phrase from Othello refers to a person who openly shows their emotions. It can also refer to a person who is a hopeless romantic. They are open and honest about how they feel. However, according to the opposite of wearing your heart on your sleeve is wearing your heart on your cheek. This person keeps their emotions hidden in order to keep from getting hurt. 

Wild Goose Chase     If you have ever been on a foolish and hopeless pursuit of something unattainable, then you know what it is like to be on a wild goose chase. This phrase comes to us from Romeo and Juliet. The character Mercutio is in a battle of wits with Romeo. He throws in the towel by saying, “Nay, if thy wits run the wild goose chase, I am done, for thou hast more of the wild goose in one of thy wits than I have in all of mine.”

What’s Done Is Done     This phrase from Macbeth indicates that when something is done, there’s no going back. You simply must deal with the consequences. There are no Do Overs. Life is not like golf, you can’t take a Mulligan.

One Fell Swoop     Ever had something sudden happen in one fell swoop? That phrase comes courtesy of Macbeth. In Shakespeare’s time “fell” meant evil. Only bad things happen in one fell swoop. It doesn’t specifically have to be “a mad king murdered my wife and children” bad. Shakespeare was kind of old school like that.

Individual Words     In addition to these phrases, credits Shakespeare with inventing many words that we still use today. Among these are:

admirable - something that deserves respect or admiration

auspicious - favorable; promising success; a good omen

baseless - without a foundation; not based on fact

barefaced - shameless; without concealment or disguise

clangor - a loud (clanging) sound

dawn - the beginning appearance of light when the sun rises

dexterously - skillful, especially in the use of one's hands (or also one's mind)

dwindle - to get smaller; diminish; often used to describe money

hostile - an unfriendly person or demeanor

lonely - to be alone

multitudinous - a lot; a great number

ode - a lyrical poem

overblown - pretentious or outrageous

sanctimonious - pretending to be very religious or righteous

skim milk - milk where the fat is removed

watchdog - a person or group that keeps a close watch to discover wrong or illegal activity

Cat got your tongue  When we ask someone who is uncharacteristically quiet, “Cat got your tongue?” it brings to mind (at least for me) the morbid idea of a housecat feasting on someone’s severed tongue.

The phrase has nothing to do with feline animals though. Instead it refers to being whipped into submission by a cat-o-nine-tails, a leather whip with nine separate strands often used on board a ship to keep the crew in line.

But that’s just one origin story. Still another does refer to a feline, specifically a witch’s cat. In that case overtly religious people who were afraid of anything to do with witchcraft would say “Cat got your tongue” and referring to an actual cat stealing your tongue. Cue the weird vision I have of a bloody cat feast.

But some say the saying goes back even further to Ancient Egypt where the cat was worshiped. People who were accused of lying or blaspheming were punished by having their tongues cut out. The offending organ would then be thrown to the cats as food. Any way you slice it, it's a gruesome phrase Info from

Mesmerize    I had the idea of covering the word “mesmerize” from when I mentioned the word a few episodes back and you had no idea that it came from the name of a man that invented (discovered?) hypnotism. It was the “Mysterious People” episode and we were discussing Phil’s favorite person, Count St. Germain who was a contemporary of Franz Anton Mesmer.

The origin of the term "mesmerize" dates back to Franz Anton Mesmer, an 18th century physician in Vienna who founded a therapeutic movement called mesmerism. In his dissertation Mesmer proposed the existence of an invisible fluid in the body that reacts to the gravitational force of the planets and that allows one person to hypnotize another. I don’t quite follow how that works but Anton mesmer was very popular in Parisian high society in the late 1770s. Opinion was divided over whether Mesmer was a genius or a quack. Whatever the case his name lives on and “mesmerism”is still used synonymously with hypnotism. 

I got my info from a 2007 article by Don Glass for

Smack Dab  And finally we end with a phrase that makes me laugh any time I hear it. It’s “Smack Dab” as in “I placed the book smack dab in the middle of the bookshelf.”

It’s such an odd phrase meaning exactly or precisely and is most often used with “in the middle” following it. No one at all knows where the phrase came from but according to the it is known that “smack dab” first appeared in print in 1892 in an early American publication which was named Dialect Notes. The phrase is most likely uniquely American as it’s not often found in use anywhere else. I can see that since it sounds very slapdashedly Yankee-like.


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