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The Cat's Pyjamas


Part of the furniture
Part of the furniture

Book Re: The Cat's Pyjamas

Post by CathyCat on Fri 23 Dec 2016 - 20:24


A slang euphemism used to indicate that a woman's petticoat is showing below the hem of her skirt.  The phrase was a useful way for ladies to convey to one another that their petticoats were hanging low, without having to state something so indelicate in front of any men present.

The expression has two possible sources, both involving kings.  One is the execution of Charles 1 (1600-49) on 30 January 1649, at which the women in attendance are said to have dipped their petticoats in his blood as a way of honouring him.

The other possibility is that it refers to the habit of flirtatious female fans of the dashing Charles II (1630-85):  they would flash the hems of their petticoats to show how much they admired him.

Part of the furniture
Part of the furniture

Book Re: The Cat's Pyjamas

Post by CathyCat on Sat 24 Dec 2016 - 16:29


A slang phrase coined by Thomas A. Dorgan. The phrase became popular in the U.S. in the 1920s, along with the bee's knees, the cat's whiskers (possibly from the use of these in radio crystal sets). In the 1920s the word "cat" was used as a term to describe the unconventional flappers from the jazz era. This was combined with the word pyjamas (a relatively new women's fashion in the 1920s) to form a phrase used to describe something that is the best at what it does, thus making it highly sought and desirable.

A report in the New York Times of a publicity stunt by an unknown woman in 1922, in which she paraded along 5th Avenue clad in yellow silk pajamas and accompanied by four cats similarly dressed, may indicate the phrase was already current by that date, as the "cat's meow" certainly was.

So pretty much it means the same thing as phrases like "bee's knees" - something that is highly desirable.

The term "cat's pyjamas" comes from E.B. Katz, an English tailor of the late 1700's and early 1800's, who made the finest silk pyjamas for royalty and other wealthy patrons. This phrase is often likened to and/or confused with the 20's term "cat's meow".

Katz's pyjamas are the cat's pyjamas.

Part of the furniture
Part of the furniture

Book On cloud nine

Post by CathyCat on Mon 26 Dec 2016 - 19:09


To be on cloud nine means to be in a state of elation, very happy indeed, or feeling 'as high as a kite'.

This fanciful twentieth-century expression comes from the terminology used by the United States Weather Bureau.  The Bureau divides clouds into classes, and each class into nine types.

Cloud nine is cumulonimbus, a cumulus cloud that develops to a vast height, with rounded masses of white vapour heaped one on the other; the upper parts resembling the shapes of domes, mountains or towers, while the base is practically horizontal.

Part of the furniture
Part of the furniture

Book The hair of the dog

Post by CathyCat on Mon 26 Dec 2016 - 19:25


This phrase refers to a remedy usually administered to someone with a hangover, after an overindulgence of alcohol the night before.  The theory is that the very thing that causes the malady is the best cure or means of relief, so another drink in the morning is considered by some the best pick-me-up (by others a recipe to make one feel worse, not better).

The general principle that 'like cures like' comes from Roman times, expressed in Latin as similia similibus curantura.

The peculiar 'hair of the dog' phrase perhaps originated in the sixteenth century.  Back then, if one was bitten by a mad dog (which was likely to be suffering from rabies), it was accepted medical practice to dress the wound with the burnt hair of the dog, as an antidote.

Amazingly, this cure was recommended for dog bites for about two hundred years before its efficacy was finally brought into question.

Part of the furniture
Part of the furniture

Book Hung, drawn and quartered

Post by CathyCat on Wed 28 Dec 2016 - 17:14


The correct order for this form of torturous capital punishment was that the victim was 'drawn, hanged, drawn, beheaded and quartered'.  The crime that merited this sort of penalty was high treason against Crown and country.

The guilty were to be 'drawn' to the place of execution on a hurdle or dragged along by horse's tail.  Yet 'drawn' also ment to be disembowelled, and this was added to the punishment in between the hanging stage and the beheading stage.

This was the sentence passed on the Scottish patriot Sir William Wallace (c.1272-1305) in August 1305:  That he should be drawn from the Palace of Westminster to the Tower of London, then hanged until nearly dead, then disembowelled, then beheaded and finally quartered.

His quarters were gibbeted at Newcastle, Berwick, Stirling and Perth.


Part of the furniture
Part of the furniture

Book A pig in a poke

Post by CathyCat on Fri 30 Dec 2016 - 17:29

To buy a pig in a poke is to purchase something before you have seen it and verified its worth.

The phrase derives from an ancient form of trickery when animals were traded at market and a small suckling pig was taken for sale in a 'poke' - a word shortened from the word 'pocket' which was a stout sack.

Sales had to be agreed without opening the poke, supposedly for fear of the lively piglet escaping.  Rather, people used the sealed sacks to try to palm off the runts of the litter to unsuspecting buyers, and sometimes even cats were substituted for pigs.

If the less gullible purchaser insisted on seeing the contents of the poke, the salesman might literally have to 'let the cat out of the bag' (hence that other well-known expression), and the game was up.

This form of dodgy market trading has been around for hundreds of years, and is referred to in Thomas Tusser's (1524-80) Five Hundred Good Points of Husbandrie (1580).

The practice was obviously widespread because other languages have similar expressions - such as the French 'chat en poche' - which also refers to the folly of buying something without seeing it first.  The Latin proverb 'caveat emptor' - 'let the buyer beware' - warns against such underhand techniques.

Part of the furniture
Part of the furniture

Book Put a sock in it!

Post by CathyCat on Sat 31 Dec 2016 - 19:17


A plea to be quiet, to shut up, to make less noise.

It comes from the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, when the early gramophones, or 'phonographs', had large horns through which the sound was amplified.  These mechanical contraptions had no volume controls, and so a convenient method of reducing the volume was to stuff a woollen sock inside the horn.

Catherine Kitten
Seasoned Member
Seasoned Member

Book Re: The Cat's Pyjamas

Post by Catherine Kitten on Wed 4 Jan 2017 - 13:07

daddy would say "put a potato in it"
true story: when Eileen was a toddler she could chew on a single fried chip for an hour - it made her quiet floorlaugh
Part of the furniture
Part of the furniture

Book Re: The Cat's Pyjamas

Post by CathyCat on Wed 4 Jan 2017 - 18:38

@Catherine Kitten wrote:daddy would say "put a potato in it"
true story: when Eileen was a toddler she could chew on a single fried chip for an hour - it made her quiet floorlaugh

Must've been a giant magic chip!

Can't say Eileen's a chip off the old block though, cos it definitely doesn't work for Daddy!  In fact, Daddy eating a chip has the exact opposite effect

Especially when Coronation Street is on! ........
Part of the furniture
Part of the furniture

Book To read the Riot Act

Post by CathyCat on Wed 4 Jan 2017 - 18:42


Figuratively, 'to read the riot act' is to attempt to quell chattering and general commotion or misbehaviour, particularly in a group of children, by vigorous and forceful pleas coupled with threats of the consequences if order is not resumed.

The original Riot Act became law in 1715, and stated that when twelve or more people were gathered with the intention of rioting, it was the duty of the magistrates to command them to disperse, and that anyone who continued to riot for one hour afterwards was guilty of a serious criminal offence.  It was not superseded until 1986 when the Public Order Act was introduced.

'To run riot' was originally said of hounds that had lost the scent, and was later applied to any group that behaved in a disorderly or unrestrained way.

Part of the furniture
Part of the furniture

Book To rub salt into the wound

Post by CathyCat on Thu 5 Jan 2017 - 13:13


To increase someone's pain or shame.

The phrase alludes to an ancient nautical punishment for misbehaviour by members of a ship's crew.  Errant sailors were flogged on the bare back, and afterwards salt was rubbed into the wounds.  Salt is a well-known antiseptic, so it helped to heal the lacerations, but it also made them much more painful.

An extension of this phrase is the saying 'Don't rub it in', an admission that one may have made a fool of oneself, but people should not carry on reminding one.

    Current date/time is Tue 22 May 2018 - 14:23