Idioms for Idiots: a Review in the Hand is Worth Absolutely Nothing

Guess you could say this place hit a dry spell. Hadn’t written here in a while, but y’know what they say: Rome wasn’t blogged in a day. So many other things going on, I suppose trying to keep this going was biting off more than I could chew. The writing was on the wall, but not on this site.

But now it’s time to turn over a new leaf! Time to let the cat out of the bag and out of the blue. I refuse to look like a flash in the pan to you. Besides, it’s true that absence makes the reader grow fonder, right? Truer words were never spoken, gang.

Um. Icing on the cake.

Okay, now that I’ve exhausted those idioms, it’s time for their second wind!

Ugh. If I didn’t love puns and ridiculous usages of the English language so much, I’d just X out this brows-DON’T. Don’t do it. Stay that cursor.

More often than not, we use idioms without even realizing it. Figurative phrases have become so ingrained within our everyday conversations that they don’t even appear figurative anymore. Granted, people today use “literally” to mean anything but. Heads-up: “that was literally the last straw” better mean someone just took the last means of drinking a Capri Sun from you, otherwise I will literally (and without solicitation) pluck your eyebrows with a pair of pliers and lack of a gentle touch.

So I racked my brain for a few examples of idioms that lack literal sense in modern society. I literally bent over backwards to–OW. OWW. Sorry! I’M SORRY, ME!

You knee brow, I knee brow

This kid’s going to make millions of dollars with that caterpillar.

All of these origins and definitions will be stemming from http://www.phrases.org.uk, so use that to your disadvantage.

A STITCH IN TIME SAVES NINE.

Let me initially state that unless this idiom has to do with a furry blue Disney character time travelling to save his nine pals, then I will care significantly less. I’m not a seamstress (seamster?), and I do poorly with surgical work (which is kind of like being a seamstress [seamster part deux?]). Let’s lead with the literal interpretation:

Still correct twice a day, and a good place to keep spare yarn. I guess.

Essentially this phrase is a variation of “early bird catches the worm;” if you fix your problems now, then you won’t have to worry about them later. Well, unless you get new problems. Problems abound, people.

There was eventually an addition to the phrase: a stitch in time, may save nine; many a little will make a mickle. Feel free to click the link to find out what a mickle is. I don’t want to know. I fear it will only enhance my life, and I’m a self-saboteur.

Mini-judgment!

Modern/Literal Sense: 2 out of 10. I had a vague idea what this phrase meant before this project, but it never really clicked. Are we actually stitching time to save nine, and what nine are we saving? Save the nine, save the world? It’s easier to say “don’t fuck up now if you don’t want to stress later.”

Vocal Enjoyment: 8.5 out of 10. Mind you, something doesn’t have to make sense to have fun saying it. Woodchucks don’t chuck wood, but I do relish chanting about it.

HAIR OF THE DOG.

I like booze. I work with booze. I dabble as a spiritual adviser, as long as that spirit comes in a bottle. For those that enjoy more than several drinks at a time, you’ve probably imbibed the hair of the dog once or twice to fix that hangover the next day. Besides, what fixes consequences of beer better than more beer? As Homer Simpson once said…nah, not going down that overplayed road.

But what does a man in the 21st century imagine when he hears that phrase?

Yum yum, drink ’em up.

As it turns out, “hair of the dog” is essentially “fight fire with fire.” If a dog bit you, it was said that putting that dog’s hair on your wound would heal it. Not sure that worked. Pretty sure it didn’t. I wonder if getting hair from a different dog or animal was akin to buying store-brand Ibuprofen. You know it works just as well (in the case of dog hair, having no effect whatsoever but sticky, bloody fur in your wound), but you don’t want to seem like a cheapskate.

Next time you’re shot, ask the assailant if you can borrow the gun to rub on your bullet hole. See how that feels. Get back to me.

Modern/Literal Sense: 1 out of 10. As you see in the “wonderfully” crafted picture comic, that’s what I thought of when it came to hair of the dog. Actually, in the period sense, I still don’t get it. Who came up with the idea that this would work? Probably someone who needed liquid hair of the dog the next morning.

Verbal Enjoyment: 3 out of 10. I don’t really dig saying this. I also don’t often follow this technique, either. If I’m hungover, it’s the couch and bad Comedy Central movies for me.

CHIP ON YOUR SHOULDER.

Maybe I thought of this one while I was chomping some Baked Lays, what of it? Originally, I went with “chip off the old block,” but that one made perfect sense to me: what came off the block is much like its origin. Not much fun when you’re talking about something you’re attuned to, right?

Anyway, literal interpretations:

Photobucket

This phrase has quite the disputed history. Apparently the chips used to be surplus wood, and if you could carry it on your shoulder, you wouldn’t get rid of it. If it could be carried underarm, then it was consider unsubstantial, and you could toss it.

Does this have anything to do with the punchy phrase we use today? Nope.

The first usage relating to the definition today comes from Somerset Maugham’s Gentleman in the Parlour, wherein someone dares another to knock the chip off his shoulder if he wishes to rumble. A more confrontational version of a line drawn in the sand.

I prefer Ruffles to this.

Modern/Literal Sense: 6 out of 10. Initially, I thought of this like carrying a burden that makes you irritated. I was wrong, but it made sense in my head. Sure, the Maugham usage makes more sense, but…well, I like what my brain comes up with, even if it is largely sans-sense.

Verbal Enjoyment: 2 out of 10. Nothing particularly exciting about it. I prefer carrying my chips in a bowl. Scratch that. In my mouth.

No, that’s not what she said. She doesn’t talk with her mouth full.

Damnit. Let’s just move on before that degenerates even more.

CLEAN AS A WHISTLE.

Our mouths are gross. We can only brush our teeth so often. I chew gum extremely often to spare others of anything the human mouth can offer odor-wise. Why would a whistle, something you have to put between your lips, be considered clean? That’s like saying “as pristine as navel lint.” Well, unless you’re being snarky, you dick.

Well, the “whistle” in question is not one that the refs swallowed when the Miami Heat would blatantly foul others. Yeah, I went there. Sure, I’m bitter. I’m sour. I’m so many of the harsher tastes in that dirty mouth of yours.

Wait. I take that back.

Actually, the “whistle” refers to the sound of a sword in the air before it decapitates its target. Alternatively, it could be somewhat of a misinterpretation with the original intent to be “clean as a whittle” regarding wood after its initial carving.

Considering my whistle sometimes sounds like the dude linked below, I’d call that anything but clean.

Modern/Literal sense: 7 out of 10. I suppose I was being a bit closed-minded about the phrase. The sound of whistling can be quite pure, but my mind jumped to the instrument drum majors employ. This followed with the gross-mouth theory, and voila! Dirty as a whistle.

Vocal Enjoyment: 5 out of 10. Only because I’ll now whistle in place of the word “whistle” when I use this phrase. Which is never.

KICK THE BUCKET.

Just be happy this isn’t “kick the can,” lest all our childhoods would be rife with memories of a game that meant “to die.” Or was I the only one that grew up in the 1920’s?

Literality!

Photobucket

As I write this…from beyond the grAAaaAAAAaaAAAaave!

Have you ever stubbed your toe so hard that you thought you were going to die? No? Haha, yeah…me neither. I’m…I’m not THAT big of a wuss. Shyeah.

This idiom has a murky history. Like many English words and phrases, this one is sometimes attributed to the great Billy Shakes, or William Shakespeare if you want to get formal about it. “Swifter then he that gibbets on the Brewers Bucket,” where “gibbets” means “hangs.” I don’t know. Gibbets IS fun to say, though.

There are other interpretations. Where pre-slaughtered animals were hung was called a “bucket,” wherein they would spasm and kick it. It might be related to kicking a bucket from underneath you when hanging yourself.

This is morbid. Let’s fix that with obscure Community references:

Modern/Literal Sense: 1 out of 10. How does kicking a bucket lead to death? Is it a bucket of nitroglycerin? When you buy the farm, is it a farm of rabid animals with a taste for human flesh? Why is a Texas Cakewalk the only cakewalk you can take after you’re deceased? Actually, I didn’t even know of that last one until I wiki’d it. I bet those cakes dry out quickly.

Vocal Enjoyment: 10 out of 10. Only because the hard K sound is hilarious. Well, unless you hate non-whites; then it’s serious business. For as much as someone of that ilk would say that “the gays ruined rainbows” (actually, they made them that much more vibrant), I could say that the KKK ruined from letters. Nothing funny about hate. Except Lewis Black. Guy loves to hate.

Guess we’ve reached the point where you can kiss this post goodbye.

Advertisements