Category Archives: figurative expression

Monday’s Child

Yesterday, I started going through pictures and I came upon this in my mother’s handwriting:

Monday’s child is fair of face

Tuesday’s child is full of grace

Wednesday’s child if full of woe

Thursday’s child has far to go

Friday’s child is loving and giving

Saturday’s child has to work hard for its living

But the child that’s born on the Sabbath day is fair and wise and good and gay.

crowd-of-kidsI was born on a Tuesday, so does that mean I am full of grace. And actually, what does full of grace mean?

I looked up the meaning of the word “grace” and it means many things, one of which I will not even attempt to explain. and that is the division of what the Catholics and Protestants believe in when referring to “full of grace”. I will leave that to the theologians.

Looking further into “grace”, it comes from both Greek and Latin — with a translation of charisma or favor. From that I could assume that full of grace is full of charisma, which is one of the definitions — effortless beauty or charm; then I looked at full of grace as full of favor, which is another definition as having a disposition to kindness or compassion. Either way, what a compliment! I either have effortless beauty and charm or I am just a kind person. I will take all, thank you…

Where and when in the world did this child’s nursery rhyme begin. The first recorded history of this rhyme is in 1838 when A.E. Bray published it in Traditions of Devonshire. So, it is English. Devonshire is in England. Researching further, I found that this little nursery rhyme was really a superstition that dates back as far as 1570 in Suffolk, England. The people then believed what day of the week you were born determined your fate (or luck) in life. Pity Wednesday or Saturday’s child!

This nursery rhyme continues to be used through the ages. Many, many television serial titles have one of these days in it, such as Wednesday’s child as being the title of that episode. Must be one of the crime dramas; remember, Wednesday’s child is full of woe. Then, there is the Beatles song, Lady Madonna, where the line reads, “Monday’s child has learned to tie his bootlace.”

So, I just had to find out what is the most common day of the week to be born, and the winner in Tuesday….Sunday is the least common. Weekends are becoming more and more least common since the rise of C-sections, when the parent(s) can determine when to have the child.

Interested in finding out what day of the week you were born? Just ask the search engine (what day of the week was Month, Day, Year of birth) and you will find out if you do not know. Something fun to find out….

Have a good one…

 

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Hunky-dory

It’s another one of those words. A funny sounding word that really doesn’t give us a clue on the meaning of the word — hunky — what is a hunky?  Actually, the dictionary defines “hunky” as “a large, strong, and sexually attractive male”. Hey, I’m a red-blooded American girl and I know what that is, but I thought they were called “Hunks”.  Should I go around from now on saying, “Well, he’s such a hunky.” Then, there is “dory” — what in the world does dory mean? According to the dictionary, it is a flat bottomed boat with flaring sides, or a narrow fish with a mouth that can be opened very wide. So, hunky-dory could mean a large, strong and sexually attractive male that is a fish which has a mouth that opens wide. Maybe there is a fish that fits this description but the word just doesn’t make sense, does it?

It’s so simple — hunky-dory means everything’s fine, okay.

So, how did we get from a large, strong and sexually attractive male that is a fish with a mouth that opens wide to everything is just fine?

I did a bit of research on this and I found two origins, so I will start with the earliest — 1853. That is when Commodore Matthew Perry sailed into Japan, which eventually led to ending 250 years of isolation of Japan from the West. Commodore_Perry's_second_fleetNow, the sailors, those hunks, really needed some r&r so they went into what would become known as Tokyo for some entertainment. The streets were a maze, but once they found the main street, Honcho Dori, they knew it would take them to the port and everything would be fine. (The image at the left is Perry’s fleet for his second visit to Japan in 1854, courtesy of Wikipedia.org, drawn around 1854, soPD).

That’s the first reference to this funny word. Now, give it a few years and you start hearing hunky-dory on the streets, and then it is in a song, Essence of Old Kentucky by George Christy and the Christy Minstrels sing “…with your smiling faces around, ’tis then I’m hunky dorey”. The year is 1862.

The quirky word stuck, and in 1971, there was a musician named David Bowie who was getting his feet wet in the music industry. That was when he recorded the Hunky Dory album, an album that was a catalyst to a career that spanned his life until his death in 2016. Also, the Hunky Dory album was the first time we heard his Changes, you remember — “Oh yeah…Still don’t know what I was waitin’ for And my time was runnin’ wild…ch-ch-ch-ch-changes Turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes.” It still runs through my head. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes….

And that is how those changes evolved with hunky dory — and for me, there is nothing finer than window shopping for a hunk. That is hunky dory to me…

Have a great one…

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Faux and its pronunciation

The other day I was having a phone conversation about having faux bricks on my living room wall, and mispronounced “faux”, phonetically pronouncing it with the au and x. I was corrected with — it is pronounced foo (where you here the f and the long oo), and I will admit, I do mispronounce words. I was taught phonics in school and I continue to go by the rules. So, I got to thinking about the word. Faux is French, a shortened version of faux pas, which is pronounced foo pass, in the American language, and the original meaning is a misstep in ballet.

Today, faux pas is shortened to faux and means fake or imitation. The one-word faux hasn’t been around that long in the American language but faux with other words have been around the English language since the 1600s. The single word — faux — originates from the 1980s, so I am cleared of that blunder, or what is the equivalent of today’s French meaning of faux pas as being a social blunder.

I also learned something about that -aux pronunciation. Or so I think I have learned. Of course, I am sure there are exceptions to what I think I know or have learned.  I looked at words that started with aux-, such as auxiliary or auxotroph, and then the -aux is pronounced how I would phonetically pronounce it — as au and the x — auxiliary.

Now, put the -aux behind a letter or letters, and the aux is pronounced as the long oo — faux, beaux (that’s plural for beau and both are pronounced the same — as boo — long oo –, to which is not to be confused with boo!, the ew you hear when you want to scare someone — boo!), or maybe there is a little Bordeaux with dinner tonight. Bordeaux, that southwestern French region that produces the wonderful wine with its same name, and the aux is pronounced with that long oo.

Confused yet?

While I am on this subject, let’s back up to auxotroph — finally, the -aux is pronounced phonetically,  au and x. So, continue with the word and the troph is pronounced traf. That famouns ph pronounced as f.

There is phone, phooey, and phew! (all ph es pronounced as an f). Some people think that phew also means that unpleasant odor. Nope. That is spelled pew and you hear the p with ew, rhymes with few, where the word can mean a long bench in church as well as an unpleasant odor — but then, we Americans just might say p u (pee- ew — stinky) but if you put a forward slash between the p and u p/u  simply means to pick up.

What do I say about all this — only one word comes to mind — Phew! this is a relief. Or — is it Whew!!! Oh, nevermind. Our words have so many different meanings, our words are pronounced different ways, and now someone has told me about Spanglish and Franglish. It’s never ending…. I am sure I will be corrected my entire life….

Until next time…have a great day…

 

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You Won’t Melt

On my way back to Florida, I picked up Hailey, my granddaughter, so she could keep me company during the trip. I told her once we arrived in Florida, I would take her to Universal Studios to the Harry Potter section (she is a HUGE fan of Harry Potter — I never realized how big until I saw her get teary-eyed over the robes and wands. Really!!!). She was all in for that trip and really could not wait as we travelled the road between Illinois and Florida.

As people may well know, the summer season in Florida is the rain season. You can bet that it will rain every day, sometimes for a little bit, sometimes a lot, but it will rain. Count on it. For the most part, we Floridians have a saying, “Wait five minutes” meaning it will rain for a bit and then the weather changes. It is what it is. It is rain. So, you can guess it rained while we visited Universal, which is fine because we were prepared with throw away rain ponchos for those rains that were more than five minutes.

During one of those rains it went from a nice sprinkle to a downpour. We ran for cover under a pavilion and we stayed there watching some people walk in the rain, dance in the rain, and play in the rain. And then it stopped raining and I stayed under the pavilion while Hailey rode a ride. While there, I struck up a conversation with the lady who stood beside me. I knew she was not from America because of her accent, and I found out she was from France, and she loved America because she said the people were so friendly. As we spoke about the two countries it began to rain again.

raingirlOnce again, people scrambled for cover.

I looked at the lady and said, “it’s just rain, we won’t melt”.

She gave me the funniest of looks, and then said, I don’t understand you. I knew then that I had uttered an idiom. Of course she wouldn’t understand, and then I told her it was an idiom.

Now, she did not know what an idiom was, so to the best of my knowledge I explained that it was an expression that we used, and that it meant that nothing would happen to us if we went out into the rain, it was just water.

She did understand what an expression was (learning curve for me — people do not understand that these expressions we have are called idioms — I need to rethink the tags for this blog).

I went on to tell her the expression probably came from the Wizard of Oz and the Wicked Witch of the West. She did not know anything about the Wizard of Oz. Once I got back home, I started researching where this expression originated. I found nothing except that it is what mother’s have told their children through time, “So, it’s raining? You’re not sugar — you won’t melt.”

Well, come to find out, sugar does melt. Put a little water with that sugar at it dissolves. Cook it on the stove and the sugar becomes a rich brown syrup. In the 1910 silent film of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz Dorothy throws a bucket of water over the Wicked Witch of the West and she melts, and finally, Isaac Asimov wrote a short fantasy story entitled Rain, Rain Go Away where the characters melted in the rain. Everything I found pointed to sugar melting, people melting in the rain, and yet, we as humans, know that we do not melt in the rain.

I found nothing, folks, about the history of this idiom/expression. In fact, I found the opposite — even Herman’s Hermits sang it in 1967 when they recorded Don’t Go Out into the Rain (You’re Going to Melt). So, the only conclusion I can come to is my momma told me so. She told me that I won’t melt in the rain. And I’m going to stick to that!

Until next time…have a good one…

 

 

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Buckle Up Buttercup

Are you ready for the ride of your life? If so, “Buckle up Buttercup” because I’m taking you for a ride you won’t forget. Now, the ride may not have anything to do with a car or the car buckles — they may be involved —  but when we buckle up Buttercup,  it will be the ride of your life — you know, going together on a journey that will be memorable. Sometimes, as life changes with me, I say those words to myself because I have no clue what is going to happen, knowing I am embarking on a journey I have never traveled before. So hang on, it’s going to be a ride that is sometimes bumpy, sometimes smooth, but definitely a ride, Buttercup.

buttercup-841225_1920 (1)But why Buttercup? I searched the web as far as I could go, and I never found why Buttercup was the name of choice, but it is used as a term of endearment.

Funny that this flower/weed is used in the context as a term of endearment because the inedible plant can be toxic to dogs and cats, can lead to serious problems for grazing animals, such as cattle and horses, sheep and pigs; and for humans, well, let’s just say that the plant tastes so bad that there is little chance of being poisoned.

Buttercup is also said with the saying, Pucker up Buttercup and Suck it up Buttercup. I tell ya, Buttercup gets around. And I sure would like to know how the buckle up, pucker up and suck it up all names Buttercup!

Take Pucker up Buttercup — you may remember this line in the 1986 film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when Ed Rooney said to Grace, Pucker up Buttercup. Well, I don’t think Grace appreciated the innuendo, but he did say pucker up — wanna kiss? Buttercup, put those lips together and get ready for a big smacker.

In my book, buckle up and pucker up is better than suck it up. Don’t you just hate it when you meet that whiner? During World War I there was Captain Williams, company commander of the 5th Marines, who was at a battle in France when someone asked him to retreat. His response, “Retreat? Hell, we just got here! Suck it up Buttercup.” Sadly to say, he never made it through the battle, but his words have lived on. Keep going and stop your whining. Words to live by.

All in all, I may buckle up Buttercup, may even pucker up a few times, and know suck it up more than not during the course of this lifetime, but oh! what a ride!!! Don’t you just love life and what it brings? As I said, what a ride…

Until next week…have a great one…

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An Albatross Around the Neck

diomedea_exulans_in_flight_-_se_tasmania

This picture was taken by JJ Harrison (JJHarrison89@facebook.com) and obtained through commons.wikimedia.org

An albatross is a large-winged web-footed bird noted for gliding over the waters.

Originally, the word is derived from the Spanish and Portugese word “alcatraz” and it means pelican.

If I have an albatross around my neck, I certainly do not carry this large bird around my neck. So, what does it mean? Figuratively, albatross means something that hinders or handicaps your ability to do something. When I carry an albatross around my neck it means that I wear something that will stop me from succeeding at my endeavor. No. Not really because once again the neck is used figuratively. We carry nothing around our neck, but we do carry burdens that are hard to get rid of.

Think of debt, maybe the student loan. It is huge and there is no end in sight of when it will be paid off. It is an albatross around my neck.How in the world can I buy a new car or a house with that much debt? Or being in a bad relationship with no signs of it getting better is an albatross around my neck. The relationship continues to cause problems. It’s an albatross — something that almost seems like a curse to deal with. Will it ever go away?

alcatraz_island_photo_d_ramey_logan

Photo taken by D Ramey Logan and obtained through commons.wikimedia.org

What I think is interesting about the origin of this word is “alcatraz.” Off San Francisco’s coast in California there stands a large prison on a rock that is named alcatraz. Although it was only a prison for 30 years, it is widely known because of its remoteness of being surrounded by water (and I have heard shark infested waters) where the most troublesome prisoners were taken to spend their days. It is said that no one escaped from this island prison. The word definitely fits the description of being such a burden that it is considered a curse.

This is one of those idioms that is not commonly used, but upon occasion, I do hear the phrase. But, no, there are no birds around anyone’s neck. As with some of our idioms, it is very hard to figure out what is really meant, so when you hear about the albatross, it means bearing a burden where there is little hope of having it resolved soon.

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Call a Spade a Spade

I hesitated to write about this figurative expression/idiom, but decided to as people who are not familiar with the English language and phrases/idioms we use in this country may come across this expression and use it, not knowing it has a dual meaning where one is understood in a derogatory sense. I feel it should be addressed and understood.

Originally, this phrase was translated from the 1st Century writing of the Greek scholar Plutarch titled Moralia, which loosely translates as Morals or Manners. (Keep this in mind as I explain.) Moralia was first translated from Greek around 1542, and the Stephanus edition came out in 1572 where the essays were divided into 14 books. Just to name a few of the essays: On the Education of Children, On Vice and Virtue, On Brotherly Love, and On Evil and Hate. There is a total of 78 essays of this sort.

When the translation took place, the translator, Nicolas Udall, replaced the original “trough” and “fig” with “spade”. Ah, how and why words change through the years continues!

shovel-clip-art-26429From then — 16th century — to the 1920s, the phrase “call a spade a spade” meant to speak frankly, tell it like it is.

This is the only meaning I knew of the idiom. I never knew it could have a sinister meaning until I started investigating this idiom. My family is not in the business of using derogatory remarks nor hurting people, so the use of this phrase in a derogatory sense was never taught to me.

And I have used the term for years when I knew someone who was blunt in explanation, who pulled no punches in speaking the truth, who said things as they really are. I like those people. There are no guessing about what that person means while telling what they like or dislike. My parents had one neighbor who spoke this way, and I always characterized her by saying she called a spade a spade. I knew exactly what she meant.

Now, fast forward to the 1920s, to the Harlem Renaissance, and now “spade” became a code word for the black person. It first appeared in Claude McKay’s 1928 novel, Home to Harlem. Okay, McKay now has expanded the shovel/spade to refer to a skin color. And in so doing, the word “spade” became offensive, which in turn is the phrase, “call a spade a spade”.

I am not in the business of hurting anyone’s feelings, so anyone who is trying to learn our language with all its idioms and double meanings, I strongly suggest to scratch this idiom off your list. Do not use. Me. I know I will double check my writing to not have this idiom included in my writing unless if it is doubly clear that it refers to someone speaking frankly, telling it like it is. And that is easier to do on paper than with oral words.

Now, back to Plutarch’s Moralia. I believe I have Plutarch in my library and I need to read what he said all those years ago. Isn’t it ironic that in the beginning he wrote about Brotherly Love and On Evil and Hate, and somehow through his words and through the years the trough, shovel has evolved into a derogatory phrase that covers (or not) Brotherly Love, Evil and Hate?

A lot to chew on…

 

 

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