View Full Version : Of shaking sticks and

27th Feb 2006, 01:06
We've had many a thread about English and certain words and their origin, but I am somewhat confused about some of our sayings. THis post brought up by Draper comment in the hosepipe thread, "More water than you can shake a stick at"

So there I was picturing Draper looking at an expanse of water thinking, "Hmm that water be too big" and later arriving at a small puddle and with much zest raising his stick and shakes it at the water where he proceeds to walk away thinking, "that'll do em"

What other sayings are there out there that you think are just silly?

Farmer 1
28th Feb 2006, 09:13
"That's the best thing since sliced bread."

What really intrigues me is, before we had sliced bread (invented, I believe, in the 50s), what was the best thing?

tony draper
28th Feb 2006, 09:29
See here for a history and possible origins of the phrase.
"More than one could shake a stick at"
I blame the cousins.



28th Feb 2006, 09:35
I could tell you a cock and bull story, but it would be a load of old codswallop.

tony draper
28th Feb 2006, 09:41
Fair Dinkum Mr ORAC.
Yer Pods would have us believe that Fair Dinkum is pure Oz,and originated in the goldfields,apparently Dim Gum means real gold in Chinese,this of course is a load of bollix,as fair dinkum was used in the same sense in Lincolnshire long before Australia was invented.

28th Feb 2006, 09:52
before we had sliced bread (invented, I believe, in the 50s), what was the best thing?
Erm.,.. Mars bars?

Conan the Librarian
28th Feb 2006, 10:02
Think it was Rickets...


28th Feb 2006, 12:23
Well! I'll go to t' foot of our stairs.

tony draper
28th Feb 2006, 12:42
"Well I'll be Hornswoggled"

A separate but seemingly related word is the English dialect 'caniffle' (1746), which became 'cunniffle' (1790) and finally 'connyfogle' (1890), also meaning to deceive, flatter, cajole, the change from 'cani-' to 'cunni-' occurring after 'cunny' entered English in 1720 as a slang diminutive for 'c*nt,' the word 'cunniffle' than taken on the added meaning of cajolery to win sexual favors." From"Listening to.
One personel favourite is

"Well I"ll be rogered slowly to death with the blunt end of a ragmans trumpet"

28th Feb 2006, 19:05
I'm kind of partial to the following expression of surprise:

"Well bugger me with a frozen porcupine!"

28th Feb 2006, 19:10
I've just enjoyed reading about the origin of 'flogging a dead horse' on a Merchant Navy (http://www.red-duster.co.uk/DYK6.htm) site

28th Feb 2006, 19:46
before we had sliced bread (invented, I believe, in the 50s), what was the best thing?"

"Erm.,.. Mars bars?"

Only if your name was Marianne Faithful.........................


28th Feb 2006, 21:20
Mars bars?? Well I never did.

I've come over all unnecessary now!! :ooh:

1st Mar 2006, 00:35
Nah. Come on Tart. All of our vintage heard the Marianne stories and tried to do a copy of same!

PS Don't try this with a Marathon (Snickers as the cousins keep trying to make us say). The peanuts can play havoc with subsequent activities.

1st Mar 2006, 00:44
"That's the best thing since sliced bread."
What really intrigues me is, before we had sliced bread (invented, I believe, in the 50s), what was the best thing?
1928 according to this http://www.foodreference.com/html/fslicedbread.html

1st Mar 2006, 07:09
What did they go back to before the drawing board was invented?

Farmer 1
1st Mar 2006, 07:15
Thank you, Kansaw, but you really should get out more.

Saintsman, dunno, but I don't think it was square one as you would probably need a drawing board for one of them.

1st Mar 2006, 13:35
Just dug this out from an old email..........

In the 1400's a law was set forth that a man was not allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Hence we have "the rule of thumb"

Many years ago in Scotland, a new game was invented. It was ruled "Gentlemen Only...Ladies Forbidden"...and thus the word GOLF entered into the English language.

The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.

Every day more money is printed for Monopoly than the US Treasury.

Men can read smaller print than women can; women can hear better.

Coca-Cola was originally green.

It is impossible to lick your elbow.

The State with the highest percentage of people who walk to work: Alaska

The percentage of Africa that is wilderness: 28% (now get this...)

The percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38%

The cost of raising a medium-size dog to the age of eleven: $6,400

The average number of people airborne over the US any given hour: 61,000

Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.

The first novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer.

The San Francisco Cable cars are the only Mobile National Monuments.

Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history:

Spades - King David

Hearts - Charlemagne

Clubs -Alexander, the Great

Diamonds - Julius Caesar

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.

Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, John Hancock and CharlesThomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.

Q. Half of all Americans live within 50 miles of what?

A. Their birthplace

Q. Most boat owners name their boats. What is the most popular boat name requested?

A. Obsession

Q. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter "A"?

A. One thousand

Q. What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers all have in common?

A. All invented by women.

Q. What is the only food that doesn't spoil?

A. Honey

Q. Which day are there more collect calls than any other day of the year?

A. Father's Day

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."

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 . which we know today as the honeymoon.

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 your pints and quarts, and settle down."

It's where we get the phrase "mind your P's and Q's"

Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. "Wet your whistle" is the phrase inspired

by this practice.

~~~~~~~~~~~AND FINALLY~~~~~~~~~~~~

At least 75% of people who read this will try to lick their elbow


Don't delete this just because it looks weird. Believe it or not, you can
read it.

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty
waht I was
phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid aoccdrnig to
rscheearch at Cmabrigde
Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the
ltteers in a wrod are,
olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat
ltteer be in the rghit
pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can
sitll raed it wouthit a
porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not
raed ervey lteter by
istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?

1st Mar 2006, 14:04
Fantastic post, thanks:ok:

(you are right about the elbow......)

1st Mar 2006, 14:16
At least it wasn't your BellEnd Bob!! :} :}

PS - Anyone know where 'Happy as Larry' comes from? Who was Larry and what made him happy??

tony draper
1st Mar 2006, 14:58
To hear is to obey.

Thereís a suggestion that it comes from the name of the nineteenth-century Australian boxer Larry Foley (1847-1917), though why he was especially happy nobody now seems able to say. Perhaps he won a lot of contests? (He was certainly one of those who originated gloved boxing rather than bare-knuckle fighting in Australia and his name is still remembered there.) But this origin is far from certain and the early New Zealand reference renders it less so, without ruling it out altogether.

Dr Orsmanís suggestion is that it is more likely to come from an English dialect source, larrie, joking, jesting, a practical joke. Another possible link is with the Australian and New Zealand term larrikin for a street rowdy or young urban hooligan, recorded from the late 1860s but known especially in both countries from the 1880s onwards in reference to a specific subculture. Like other groups before and since, the larrikins had their own dress style, in their case very neat and rather severe. The word may well have come from English dialect larrikin for a mischievous youth, once common in Warwickshire and Worcestershire,

1st Mar 2006, 16:00
Probably an Australian expression. Thought to refer to the Australian boxer Larry Foley (1847 - 1917). Why was he so happy? I've no idea. An alternative explanation is that it relates to the Cornish and later Australian slang term larrikin, meaning a rough type or hooligan, i.e. one predisposed to larking about.

1st Mar 2006, 16:05
The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.

What, BEFORE Morecombe and Wise?

Farmer 1
1st Mar 2006, 17:05
I always thought the expression was, "As happy as a pig in spite of everything."

tony draper
1st Mar 2006, 17:50
And I thunk that expression was
"Happy as a pig in shite"

1st Mar 2006, 20:26
What about:

Keep your eyes peeled.


Can I pick your brains?

(both disgusting phrases if you bother to think about it)

As easy as falling off a log has long puzzled me. R Maxwell demonstrated that it was easy to fall off a yacht, which is fairly close.....

tony draper
1st Mar 2006, 20:36
Hmmm, what about the expression "did he jump or was he pushed" though.:E
A couple of peeps I know like to think he took a long long time in his drowning.

bar fly
2nd Mar 2006, 09:01
I hate the expression "touch base with you". One of the many irritating expressions you often hear in the office. Grrrrrrrrr :uhoh:

2nd Mar 2006, 09:08
Just dug this out from an old email..........
The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
Not Morecambe and Wise, then?

(Edited to acknowledge that G-CPTN got there first . . . )

Q. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter "A"?
A. One thousand

One hundred and one?

tony draper
2nd Mar 2006, 13:02
Just remembered a strange phrase a old workmate of mine usta use,if something was went wrong on a job ect
That job was "Reet Killypig"

Capn Notarious
2nd Mar 2006, 14:02
Nose to the grindstone
Apparently the cutlers had water powered grindstones. These vast wheels were so large that the sharpener laid on a plank infront of the wheel.

2nd Mar 2006, 18:34

How about :-

Not half bad

and similarly

Not too bad

So which is worse if they're both NOT either 'half' or 'too'?

2nd Mar 2006, 18:46
One about mistakes that may be over looked in the office..

'A knight on a white charger at a canter won't see it, it's all right.'


2nd Mar 2006, 18:53
Fos mind if I steal that one, would work a treat here at this office!:}

2nd Mar 2006, 18:53
Awfully good?

2nd Mar 2006, 19:04
I don't give a rats ass.


the beater
2nd Mar 2006, 19:16
The best thing since sliced bread.

I think that this phrase originated in an advert. After a few years of selling sliced bread, a company (could it have been Hovis?) brought out an unsliced loaf using the slogan "the best thing since sliced bread ... unsliced bread". It's certainly true; I like my toast so thick that it won't fit in the Dualit. Have to use the AGA.

2nd Mar 2006, 19:28
Sound barrier
Be my guest.

There's also..
'Lets drop the dead donkey and shoot the crow'
In real life that's 'Lets finish up, this is rubbish, and go home'.


2nd Mar 2006, 19:42
Why is it that when one is quite certain about something he or she may say something like, "it's not a problem," but when one is less certain, he or she may say, "I'm sure it's not a problem?" Shouldn't it be the other way round? Why should saying that you're sure mean that you're less sure?

Others that irritate:

Noting that something may "fall between the cracks." One assumes that "between" cracks there is solid material, and all falling must occur through the cracks.

"The proof is in the pudding." No it's not. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

"Irregardless." Arrrrgh!

I'd better stop. I feel the threat of a rant and blatant, unmitigated thread-creep growing.

2nd Mar 2006, 20:19
Blue sky thinking,
Thinking outside the box,
Don't drop the ball, and no dribbling.

all top notchers


2nd Mar 2006, 21:01
Which puts me in mind of another (and yes, I claimed I wouldn't do this any more)... When my boss wants to say, "I'm just thinking out loud" (which is bad enough), he instead says, "I'm just talking out loud."

Yeah. I know. I can hear you.

Of course, that's right up there with those who say things like "I had such a bad headache that my head was literally exploding." It is my position that once the word "literal" means "figurative," we're wrung the last bit of sense out of this language.


Now back to your regularly-scheduled thread...