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Ever wonder

Discussion in 'Humor - Jokes - Games and Diversions' started by Conagher, Sep 3, 2005.

  1. Conagher

    Conagher Dark Custom Rider Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Ever wonder where some of our expressions originated?

    In George Washington's days, there were no cameras. One's image was
    either sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington showed
    him standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others
    showed both legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not
    based on how many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were
    to be painted. Arms and legs are "limbs," therefore painting them would
    cost the buyer more. Hence the expression, "Okay, but it'll cost you an
    arm and a leg."
    As incredible as it sounds, men and women took baths only twice a year
    (May and October)! Women kept their hair covered, while men shaved their
    heads (because of lice and bugs) and wore wigs. Wealthy men could afford
    good wigs made from wool. They couldn't wash the wigs, so to clean them
    they would carve out a loaf of bread, put the wig in the shell, and bake
    it for 30 minutes. The heat would make the wig big and fluffy, hence the
    term "big wig." Today we often use the term "here comes the Big Wig"
    because someone appears to be or is powerful and wealthy.
    In the late 1700s, many houses consisted of a large room with only one
    chair. Commonly, a long wide board folded down from the wall, and was
    used for dining. The "head of the household" always sat in the chair
    while everyone else ate sitting on the floor. Occasionally a guest, who
    was usually a man, would be invited to sit in this chair during a meal.
    To sit in the chair meant you were important and in charge. They called
    the one sitting in the chair the "chair man." Today in business, we use
    the expression or title "Chairman" or "Chairman of the Board."
    Personal hygiene left much room for improvement. As a result, many women
    and men had developed acne scars by adulthood. The women would spread
    bee's wax over their facial skin to smooth out their complexions. When
    they were speaking to each other, if a woman began to stare at another
    woman's face she was told, "mind your own bee's wax." Should the woman
    smile, the wax would crack, hence the term "crack a smile." In addition,
    when they sat too close to the fire, the wax would melt . . . therefore,
    the expression "losing face."
    Ladies wore corsets, which would lace up in the front. A proper and
    dignified woman . as in "straight laced". . . wore a tightly tied lace.
    Common entertainment included playing cards. However, there was a tax
    levied when purchasing playing cards but only applicable to the "Ace of
    Spades." To avoid paying the tax, people would purchase 51 cards
    instead. Yet, since most games require 52 cards, these people were
    thought to be stupid or dumb because they weren't "playing with a full
    Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what
    the people considered important. Since there were no telephones, TV's or
    radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs,
    and bars. They were told to "go sip some ale" and listen to people's
    conversations and political concerns. Many assistants were dispatched at
    different times. "You go sip here" and "You go sip there." The two words
    "go sip" were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion
    and, thus we have the term "gossip."
    At local taverns, pubs, and bars, people drank from pint and quart-sized
    containers. A bar maid's job was to keep an eye on the customers and
    keep the drinks coming. She had to pay close attention and remember who
    was drinking in "pints" and who was drinking in "quarts," hence the term
    "minding your "P's and Q's."
    One more: bet you didn't know this! In the heyday of sailing ships, all
    war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired
    round iron cannon balls.. It was necessary to keep a good supply near
    the cannon. However, how to prevent them from rolling about the deck?
    The best storage method devised was a square-based pyramid with one ball
    on top, resting on four resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus,
    a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next
    to the cannon. There was only one problem...how to prevent the bottom
    layer from sliding or rolling from under the others. The solution was a
    metal plate called a "Monkey" with 16 round indentations. However, if
    this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it.
    The solution to the rusting problem was to make "Brass Monkeys.." Few
    landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than
    iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far,
    the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannonballs
    would come right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally, "Cold
    enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey." (All this time, you
    thought that was an improper expression, didn't you.)
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