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The Cat's Pyjamas

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CathyCat
Part of the furniture
Part of the furniture

Book To case the joint

Post by CathyCat on Fri 10 Mar 2017 - 12:33

TO CASE THE JOINT

An American slang expression from the criminal fraternity meaning to inspect or reconnoitre a building before attempting to rob it or break into it for some other nefarious purpose.

'Joint' in this context means 'a building': an early twentieth-century colloquial Americanism for a sleazy dive where opium could be smoked or, during the Prohibition era (1920-33), where illicit spirits could be bought and drunk.  The word 'joint' has since come to be generally applied disparagingly to almost any disreputable establishment.

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CathyCat
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Book Re: The Cat's Pyjamas

Post by CathyCat on Tue 21 Mar 2017 - 18:06

TO CAST THE FIRST STONE

To be first to criticize, to find fault,to start a quarrel, or to cast aspersions on someone's character.  In biblical times, the barbaric custom of capital punishment was to pelt heretics, adulteresses and criminals with stones and rocks in a public place.

The phrase is from John 8:7, spoken by Jesus to the Scribes and Pharisees who brought before him a woman caught in adultery.  They said that according to the law of Moses, she should be stoned to death, to which Jesus replied: 'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.'


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CathyCat
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Part of the furniture

Book To clear the decks

Post by CathyCat on Thu 23 Mar 2017 - 15:26

TO CLEAR THE DECKS

To remove everything not required, especially when preparing for action; hence to prepare for some task by removing the extraneous or irrelevant.

This is a nautical phrase and alludes to a sailing ship preparing for battle, when anything in the way of the guns and their crews, or that might burn or splinter, or that was not lashed down, was removed from the usually cluttered decks so that no untethered articles would roll about and injure the seamen during the battle.

This saying is used in many contexts, such as clearing the table of food and dishes, or preparing the house to receive guests.

'Deck' appears in many commonly used phrases, among them 'to hit the deck' - to fall over, usually to escape injury - or to 'deck someone' (to hit them and knock them to the floor).

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CathyCat
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Book Clean round the bend

Post by CathyCat on Sat 25 Mar 2017 - 19:11

CLEAN ROUND THE BEND

Completely crazy or eccentric.  The phrase was described by F. Bowen in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1929 as 'an old naval term for anybody who is mad'.

In a neat play on words, the phrase has been used to advertise the lavatory cleaner Harpic since the 1930s:  'It cleans right round the bend.'

The word 'clean' is used in many different ways to describe something complete, pure, unmarked or unreserved - for instance, 'clean bowled', 'to make a clean break' or 'to make a clean breast of it'.
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CathyCat
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Book To climb on the bandwagon

Post by CathyCat on Sun 26 Mar 2017 - 13:08

TO CLIMB ON THE BANDWAGON

To declare support for a popular movement or trend, usually without believing in the movement or trend.

The expression is believed to have originated in the Southern states of America, probably dating from the first presidential campaign of William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) in 1892, when candidates for political office would parade through the streets, led by a band of musicians performing on a large horse-drawn dray.

As a publicity stunt, the local candidate would mount the wagon as it passed and ride through his constituency in an attempt to gain personal support from the voters.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bryan never won the presidency, losing to McKinley in 1896 and 1900, and to Taft in 1908.
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CathyCat
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Book For the high jump

Post by CathyCat on Tue 28 Mar 2017 - 21:57

FOR THE HIGH JUMP

English slang for being in big trouble, also known these days as 'deep doo-doo' or 'deep shit'.  It usually implies that dismissal or serious punishment are on the cards.

The allusion is to the hanging of a convicted criminal - the gallows being 'the high jump' - which was the former British judicial method for capital punishment.
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CathyCat
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Book To have a chip on one's shoulder

Post by CathyCat on Fri 31 Mar 2017 - 23:13

TO HAVE A CHIP ON ONE'S SHOULDER

To display an inferiority complex, to perceive oneself as an underdog, to have a grievance, often unjustifiably.

The expression is believed to have originated in America in about 1840 and may allude to a game of dare, in which a man challenges another to dislodge a chip - as in piece of wood, not French fry - he carries on his shoulder.

In American parlance, a chip was also a figurative term for consequences, and so the phrase may be a warning to an adversary not to aim too high.

There is an ancient proverb, 'Hew not too high lest chips fall in thine eye.'  By the late sixteenth century, this health-and-safety warning had become something of a challenge, a dare to a fearless woodcutter to look high up without regard to any falling chips of wood.

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CathyCat
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Part of the furniture

Book To have a field day

Post by CathyCat on Sat 1 Apr 2017 - 12:57

TO HAVE A FIELD DAY

A figurative expression for a day or occasion or time of particular excitement, often a day away from the usual routine.

The phrase is in fact a military term for a day when troops have manoeuvres, exercises or reviews - out in the field.  (The military refer to the area or sphere of operations as 'the field'.)

The term is now used more generally to mean a time of enjoyment, or making the most of things; we might say that the tabloid newspapers would 'have a field day' if they got hold of a particularly salacious story.

In the US Navy, 'a field day' is a day devoted to cleaning the ship in preparation for inspection.

Schoolchildren, meanwhile, enjoy field trips, on which they travel away from school, particularly to study geography.
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CathyCat
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Book To jump out of the frying pan into the fire

Post by CathyCat on Tue 4 Apr 2017 - 18:28

TO JUMP OUT OF THE FRYING PAN INTO THE FIRE

To leap from one bad predicament to another which is as bad or even worse.

In English, the phrase can be traced back to about 1530 when, in the course of a religious argument, Sir Thomas More, Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor and author of Utopia, said that William Tyndale (1494-1536), translator of the Bible into English, had 'featly conuayed himself out of the frying panne fayre into the fyre'.

Unfortunately, both men met a gruesome end.  Sir Thomas More was hanged as a traitor in 1535 for refusing to approve the marriage between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, while Tyndale was publicly strangled and burned as a heretic in 1536.
 
Most languages have an equivalent phrase; the French have tomber de la poêle dans le feu - 'fall from the frying pan into the fire' - from which the English is probably translated.  The ancient Greeks had, 'out of the smoke into the flame'; the Italians and Portuguese, 'to fall from the frying pan into the coals'; and the Gaelic is 'out of the cauldron into the fire'.

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CathyCat
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Part of the furniture

Book To keep one's powder dry

Post by CathyCat on Sun 9 Apr 2017 - 12:37

TO KEEP ONE'S POWDER DRY

To be prepared for action, but preserve one's resources until they are really needed.

The phrase comes from a saying attributed to Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), and the powder is, of course, gunpowder, which will not ignite if wet, or even damp.

During his savage Irish campaign of 1649, Cromwell is said to have concluded a speech to his troops, who were about to cross the River Slaney before attacking Wexford, with the rousing words, 'Put your trust in God, my boys, and keep your power dry.'

There is no contemporary recording of his use of this phrase, however, and it is possible that it was coined later by the soldier and historian Valentine Blacker (1738-1823) in his poem 'Oliver's Advice', which attributed the line to Cromwell.


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CathyCat
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Book Kiss of death

Post by CathyCat on Mon 10 Apr 2017 - 13:10

KISS OF DEATH

This phrase derives from Judas Iscariot's kiss given to Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane before he betrayed him (Luke 23:48 and Matthew 26:49).  It's also known as a 'Judas kiss', meaning an insincere act of courtesy or false affection.

In Mafia circles, a kiss from the boss may indeed be a fatal omen.

The phrase is often used today in political or business contexts, meaning that certain associations or actions may prove to be the undoing of a person or organization, or the downfall of a plan or project.



    Current date/time is Tue 22 May 2018 - 14:29