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#1 Jan 27, 2020 4:26 pm

New Historian
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Origins of phrases and habits

People used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot and then once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were "Piss Poor". But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't even afford to buy a pot. They "didn't have a pot to piss in".

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water!"

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence. The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, "Dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: a thresh hold.

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old. Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would Sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.

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#2 Jan 27, 2020 4:32 pm

Expat
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Re: Origins of phrases and habits

Yer upper crust is a stretch. While loaves were not like our regular sliced bread, it should have been mostly cooked fairly evenly.


Etymology:

    This idiom originated in the start of 19th century. The objective meaning came from the upper crust of the loaf that is considered the best and tastiest. The expression “upper crust” was used to refer to people that belong to the elite of the society. They are usually considered the most intellectual, economic and social stability.

Last edited by Expat (Jan 27, 2020 4:38 pm)

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#3 Jan 27, 2020 5:41 pm

Real Distwalker
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Re: Origins of phrases and habits

I dunno man, that sounds pretty fishy to me?  Get married in June to avoid a bath?  Doubtful. 

I was given to understand that "raining cats and dogs" originated when a heavy rain resulted in flash floods that left drowned cats and dogs in the streets. People seeing this imagined fancifully that it had rained them.  This seems more probable to me.

In any case, those seem like a stretch, bro.

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#4 Jan 27, 2020 5:43 pm

Real Distwalker
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Re: Origins of phrases and habits

This seems most probable.... The month of June derives its name from Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage.

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#5 Jan 27, 2020 5:57 pm

gripe
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Re: Origins of phrases and habits

NH, I enjoyed reading your expressions-origin piece especially because I have always been intrigued by the things people say, why they say things with interesting expressions, and, obviously, the origins of those expressions. I note that many of our expressions have a faithful, some may say fateful, source: the Bible! It will be good to list some on another day in another post.

I wish, however, not so much to spoil the fun, but to address one misconception among the expressions that you mentioned: "Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water!" Research suggests that the explanation that you gave for that expression is not accurate. See the arguments at the following link:

https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/don … water.html

For example, as the linked article states: "One of the claims in one version . . . is that "in medieval times" people shared scarce bathwater and by the time that the baby was bathed the water was so murky that the baby was in danger of being thrown out unseen. Complete twaddle, of course."

Rather, again according to the linked article, the expression dates to about 1512 in Germany and did not find its way in the English setting until the 19th century. (Note the connection of the expression to slavery as well!)

Finally, a less controversial interpretation of the phrase is that it is merely an idiomatic way of describing an avoidable error where some good is eliminated while trying to actually correct a problem.

Maybe another source may prove what I've here provided to be incorrect.

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#6 Jan 28, 2020 12:17 am

Expat
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Re: Origins of phrases and habits

Cats and dogs balone, as it originates as dogs and polecats in a satirical play.

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#7 Jan 28, 2020 12:22 am

Expat
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Re: Origins of phrases and habits

Here is a more likely summary of those origins

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/555 … ns-phrases

Beware the wisdom of the web, it could lead you into a world of hurt if you chose the wrong source.

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#8 Feb 09, 2020 4:53 pm

Dancer
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Re: Origins of phrases and habits

New Historian  .... good post 'phrases and  habits '  .... but you is a comedian now  ? ,,,,,,, and everybody so nice ...
Lawd

! lol.

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#9 Feb 09, 2020 5:11 pm

Slice
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Re: Origins of phrases and habits

yep agree, it was kinda funny.

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#10 Feb 09, 2020 8:27 pm

Calypso
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Re: Origins of phrases and habits

The lovers are at it again. Wow! Men in love! Love in men!

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