Obscure Sayings/Terms

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Obscure Sayings/Terms

Post by Guest on Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:01 am

One per post. Define it, give the origins and put it in context.

Slap mah fro! - 70's Jive, an exclamation of surprise, particularly when learning of something one did not know before.

"You mean to tell me that the girl I slept with last night was married? Well, slap mah fro!"

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Re: Obscure Sayings/Terms

Post by Kalon Ordona II on Wed Sep 16, 2009 9:00 pm

How has no one replied in here yet? Laughing
Hm, let me see now....

I'll start with one of my favorites.
by the skin of [one's] teeth - From the Bible, Job 19:20. The expression means narrowly or barely. Usually used in regard to a narrow escape from a disaster.

"I got to work on time by the skin of my teeth!"
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Re: Obscure Sayings/Terms

Post by Guest on Wed Sep 16, 2009 9:13 pm

Nutmeg - Soccer or Hockey, to slip the ball (or puck) between the legs of an opponent during a pass or shot.

"Not only does [Kieran Gibbs] nutmeg [Cristiano Ronaldo] but he also leaves him flat on his backside. A 19-year old kid nutmegged the player of the year."

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Re: Obscure Sayings/Terms

Post by Kalon Ordona II on Wed Sep 16, 2009 9:24 pm

Have you ever read Casual Lex by Webb B. Garrison?
There are all sorts of sayings and terms explained.

Also, I found this cool place:
The Phrase Finder

There are TONS of obscure sayings there. Like....

The Phrase Finder wrote:At one fell swoop

Meaning
Suddenly; in a single action.

Origin
This is one of those phrases that we may have picked up early in our learning of the language and probably worked out its meaning from the context we heard it in, without any clear understanding of what each word meant. Most native English speakers could say what it means but, if we look at it out of context, it doesn't appear to make a great deal of sense. That lack of understanding of the words in the phrase is undoubtedly the reason that this is often misspelled, for example, 'at one fail swoop', or even, with some more justification as it might be though to relate to birds, 'one fowl swoop'. It isn't difficult to find examples of 'one foul swoop'. 'Stoop' is sometimes substitued for 'swoop' in all of the above variants, again drawing on avian imagery.

So, what's that 'fell'? We use the word in a variety of ways: to chop, as in fell a tree; a moorland or mountain, like those in the northern UK; the past tense of fall, as 'he fell over'. None of those seem to make sense in this phrase and indeed the 'fell' here is none of those. It's an old word, in use by the 13th century, that's now fallen out of use apart from in this phrase and as the common root of the term 'felon'. The Oxford English Dictionary defines fell as meaning 'fierce, savage; cruel, ruthless; dreadful, terrible', which is pretty unambiguous.

Shakespeare either coined the phrase, or gave it circulation, in Macbeth, 1605:

MACDUFF: [on hearing that his family and servants have all been killed]

All my pretty ones?
Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
At one fell swoop?

The kite referred to is a hunting bird, like the Red Kite, which was common in England in Tudor times and is now making a welcome return after near extinction in the 20th century. The swoop (or stoop as is now said) is the rapid descent made by the bird when capturing prey.

Shakespeare used the imagery of a hunting bird's 'fell swoop' to indicate the ruthless and deadly attack by Macbeth's agents.

In the intervening years we have rather lost the original meaning and use it now to convey suddenness rather than savagery.
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