Thursday, March 15, 2012


Do you think Jesus actually did a lot of jumping? You’re right, who knows? So where’d you think that saying came from anyway? “Holy Jumpin’ Jesus.” Our love of alliteration perhaps? Maybe it was the first thing that popped into someone’s mind just after hitting their thumb with a hammer? My research says that “Holy Jumpin’…” is a Canadianism and many weird sayings begin with the two words “Holy Jumpin’” as in “Holy Jumpin’ Jehosophat” or “Holy Jumpin’ Jellybeans” or “Holy Jumpin’ Weasel Fritters on a Hot Cross Bun!”??? Seriously? You’re kiddin’? People actually say that? But, anyway, the colourful phrase might be blasphemous and shocking to some but it sure gets used a lot.
One of my all-time favourite expressions came from an old Snickers Chocolate bar ad which aired a few years ago. Maybe you’ll remember it. There was this old grounds crew guy painting the home team’s name in the end zone of a football stadium when one of the team’s players walks by as the old guy was putting the last strokes of his masterpiece on the grass when the football player asks him, “Whose the Chefs!?” To which the old guy looks at his work and says, “Great Googly Moogly!” noticing that he left out the “i” in what was supposed to be “Chiefs”. As the exasperated old guy shakes his head the voice-over announcer states; “Not going anywhere for a while? Grab a Snickers.”
Another head scratcher saying is “cute as a button”. Where’d this come from? I was holding my five-month-old granddaughter Ava on my lap and I was telling her that she was so darn cute, which she is if I do say so myself, but I think she’s a lot cuter than any button I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of buttons in my day, I’ll tell ya.
Of course there are conflicting answers to the question of the origin of the saying stating that “cute as a button” meant, "cute, charming, attractive, almost always with the connotation of being small”. Cute and keen were two of the most overused slang words of the late 1920s and 1930s. But someone else wrote that “cute as a button” actually has nothing to do with a button, as in a button on a shirt, they say that the button quail is a very small gray super, super fluffy squishy looking (or “cute” if you will) bird. People used to say “cute as a button”, meaning “cute as a button quail” because the bird was considered so adorable. Whatever. You pick one. It still doesn’t change the fact that my granddaughter is cuter than any button or bird.
There are a lot of sayings and expressions out there in the old English language. Some of them are more common than others, of course, and many of them are self explanatory while others are just, as stated earlier, head scratchers. The following are some expressions from the English language that you may or may not have heard and you may or may not know their meaning.
“Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish”; “Plain as a Pikestaff”; “According to Hoyle”; “Bats in the Belfry”; “Bees Knees”; “Shilly Shally”; “Short Shrift”; “Sweat like a Beefsteak”; “Mind your p’s and q’s”; “Navel Gazing”; “Three Sheets to the Wind”; “Not Worth a Tinker’s Damn”; “That’s a Corker”; “Happy as a Sandboy”; “Mad as a March Hare”; “Mealy Mouthed”; “Neat as Ninepence”; “Over the Moon”; “Out of the Blue”; “On a Sticky Wicket”… there’s a million of ‘em. Whenever you get a couple of moments, or maybe a couple of hours, look some of these up they just might “Pique your Interest”.
“Our language is funny—a “fat chance” and a “slim chance” are the same thing.”- J. Gustav White.

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