10 October 2018

Erasmus Said...

Many of the adages that have become commonplace in many European languages, are attributed to Erasmus.

Equivalents in English include:

More haste, less speed
The blind leading the blind
A rolling stone gathers no moss
One man's meat is another man's poison
Necessity is the mother of invention
One step at a time
To be in the same boat
To lead one by the nose
A rare bird
Even a child can see it
To walk on tiptoe
One to one
Out of tune
A point in time
I gave as bad as I got (I gave as good as I got)
To call a spade a spade
Hatched from the same egg
Up to both ears
As though in a mirror
Think before you start
What's done cannot be undone
Many parasangs ahead (Miles ahead)
We cannot all do everything
Many hands make light work
A living corpse
Where there's life, there's hope
To have one foot in Charon's boat (To have one foot in the grave)
To cut to the quick
Time reveals all things
Golden handcuffs
Crocodile tears
To lift a finger
You have touched the issue with a needle-point (To have nailed it)
To walk the tightrope
Time tempers grief (Time heals all wounds)
With a fair wind
To dangle the bait
Kill two birds with one stone
To swallow the hook
The bowels of the earth
Happy in one's own skin
Hanging by a thread
The dog is worthy of his dinner
To weigh anchor
To grind one's teeth
Nowhere near the mark
To throw cold water on
Complete the circle
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king
No sooner said than done
Neither with bad things nor without them
Between a stone and a shrine (Between a rock and a hard place)
Like teaching an old man a new language
A necessary evil
There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip
To squeeze water out of a stone
To leave no stone unturned
Let the cobbler stick to his last
God helps those who help themselves
The grass is greener over the fence
The cart before the horse
Dog in the manger
One swallow doesn't make a summer
His heart was in his boots
To sleep on it
To break the ice
To die of laughing
To have an iron in the fire
To look a gift horse in the mouth
Neither fish nor flesh
Like father, like son
Not worth a snap of the fingers
He blows his own trumpet
To show one's heels
A snail's pace

04 October 2018

Crank, cranky and crank it up

Sometimes word origins are not very complicated. Such is the case with the English word "crank" (noun) and "cranky" (adjective).

In our modern usage, cranky means describes someone who is irritable or ill tempered.

Etymologically, our use goes back to late 19th century Germany. The German word spelled krank meant to be sick or cross or out of sorts. English speakers anglicized the word and swapped the k for a c and added the -y to make the adjective.

What's the connection to crank meaning the lever used to make a rotary or oscillatory motion to a rotating shaft? None that I can find.

In the early days of automobiles and airplanes, you need to crank the engine to get it started. That handle or propeller turned the crankshaft of the engine and created the initial spark. Much later, when cars no longer needed that hand starting, people began to use the work in phrases such as "crank it up" to mean to kick up or increase something. "Crank up the volume" might still be used, though even that is less likely to mean turning a volume dial, but rather to click a volume icon.

21 September 2018

Boob, booby trap, boobs

Jeremy the Boob, the foolish Nowhere Man in The Beatles Yellow Submarine

You are probably aware that the word “boob” can be used to describe a “stupid”, “foolish”, or otherwise “clumsy” person. This particular definition is generally thought to have derived from the Spanish word “bobo” which roughly means “dunce.” This Spanish word comes from the Latin “balbus” meaning “stammering" and there is a theory that “boob”, meaning “stupid”, has Gaelic origins.

In English, this meaning appears in the late sixteenth century. later, it was applied to birds of the Sula genus that seem foolish because of their very large feet that make them rather clumsy walkers. They would often land on ships, were easy to catch and sailors began to call them “boobies.”

Much later, other things had the term attached with a similar meaning: the “boob-tube” for stupid TV programming, a “booby trap” being a trap that a foolish person would fall for, and a "booby prize” being a prize for the "top loser."

But somewhere along the way, "boobs" as a noun became slang for women's breasts. This usage seems to have went wide around 1929 as U.S. slang. But theories are that it probably much older.

The term boobies for breasts appears in the later 17th century. It may have been derived from the Latin puppa, literally "little girl," though it may also have come from the French poupe ("teat") or the German dialectal bubbi which begat the English bubby.

"Bubby" is defined as a vulgar slang that goes back to 1675 and it may have just evolved into "booby" then to be shortened to "boob."

An explanation that almost definitely not true, but is amusing is that the word itself is a visual representation of what a pair of breasts when viewed from above B, from the front oo and from a side view b

In 2013, an Australian women’s clothing chain, Bonds, found in a survey that 74% of Australian women typically used the word “boobs” to refer to their own breasts. The company decided to use the word in their “Bonds for Boobs” ad campaign to advertise their  bras and as a partnership with the National Breast Cancer Foundation.