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(Some Gal)   Origins of the phrases "Bee's Knees," "posh," "Head over Heels" and more   ( arts.telegraph.co.uk) divider line
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31697 clicks; posted to Main » on 07 Jun 2004 at 9:08 PM (14 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2004-06-07 10:58:09 PM  
"...acronyms didn't get into general circulation until the Second World War and later. There are almost no examples of words of acronymic origin before 1900. Indeed, the very word "acronym" wasn't coined until 1943."

I wonder where "For Unlawfull Carnal Knowledge" comes from then.
2004-06-07 11:00:10 PM  
Bee's knees

Wasp's nipples? The entire set of erogenous zones of all the insects in the Western Hemisphere?
2004-06-07 11:02:04 PM  
No Offense Mr. Lawson,

But someone who teaches how to use a computer should be familiar with the changing color of hyperlinks based on whether or not they have been visited.

/just saying
2004-06-07 11:09:18 PM  
Mr. Neutron: Certainly not!! A Dutch Oven is being MUCH nicer to your significant other than giving her a Cleveland Steamer.
2004-06-07 11:10:53 PM  
I actually like the sound of this "all fur coat and no knickers'' business.....

Agree that "monkey's eyebrows" isn't used nearly enough these days!!! But I plan on changing that.

/although I could be barking up the wrong tree?
2004-06-07 11:15:20 PM  
From Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary:

Inflected Form:-ed/-ing/-s
Etymology:of Germanic origin; probably from or akin to Dutch fokken to breed (cattle), from Middle Dutch, push, thrust, copulate; akin to Swedish dialect fock penis

intransitive verb
1 : COPULATE usually considered obscene; sometimes used in the present participle as an intensive
2 : to mess around used with with; usually considered vulgar
transitive verb
1 : to engage in coitus with usually considered obscene; sometimes used interjectionally with an object (as a pronoun) to express anger, contempt, or disgust
2 : to deal with unfairly or harshly usually considered vulgar
2004-06-07 11:28:51 PM  
can anyone explain where the phrase "ape sh*t" comes from?
2004-06-07 11:29:00 PM  
ouroborus- I'm sorry old boy, I don't quite understand your banter....

wicked cool, was thinking the same thing
2004-06-07 11:29:24 PM  

Monkey's Eyebrow, KY, USA is an actual town. But it probably doesn't hurt to try to kiss up to Drew. I believe it was named after what was thought to be a curious ridge formation.
2004-06-07 11:30:59 PM  

A nice site because when the author doesn't actually know something, he is honest enough to say so.
2004-06-07 11:31:16 PM  

They need to add: -able to the inflected form
2004-06-07 11:36:38 PM  
Another of my favorites:

"I have to go see a man about a dog"
2004-06-07 11:51:39 PM  
From the phrase "ape's ass."
2004-06-07 11:57:51 PM  
My mom has been calling me bees knees all my life. And now I call my son that.
2004-06-08 12:00:44 AM  
Michael Quinion, the author of the linked article, also has a website with hundreds of word and phrase origins. His stuff tends to be pretty solidly researched. It's at www.worldwidewords.org/.
2004-06-08 12:01:13 AM  
Thanks for the "whole nine yards" origin.
And i always thought it came from WWII, when a fighter pilot used an entire belt of bullets on a target, which was nine yards long.
2004-06-08 12:08:29 AM  

let everyone else tell you what it means.
2004-06-08 12:12:38 AM  
My favorite is "driving the porcelain bus" as in, on hands and knees gripping the toilet bowl while losing the 30 beers you just drank.
2004-06-08 12:19:58 AM  
Beagle's Bollock's
Terrier's Testicle's
Duck's Gut's

2004-06-08 12:21:18 AM  

I know those words, but that post makes no sense.
2004-06-08 12:24:03 AM  
I'm nursing the pet theory that "the whole nine yards" comes from the 'shoot the works' extravagance of the zoot suit, but was made patriotically correct by changing it to the 'shoot the works' thoroughness of pasting your enemy with every round in your aircraft.
2004-06-08 12:40:32 AM  
"He's had the radish"
2004-06-08 12:47:04 AM  
Aww, neither the article nor this thread so far has answered the question that has cost me much sleep over the decades...

Who first coined the phrase, "to coin a phrase"?
2004-06-08 01:20:45 AM  
tr.v. coined, coining, coins

1. To make (pieces of money) from metal; mint or strike: coined silver dollars.
2. To make pieces of money from (metal): coin gold.
3. To devise (a new word or phrase).
2004-06-08 01:30:39 AM  

I heard or read, that cop came from the copper buttons English police officers wore while, the derogatory 'Pigs' came from hippies, meaning pigs, which officers turned into Pride, Integrity, GutS.

The derogatory 'attractive and successful African-American' is supposed to be a designation concerning the Niger River, meaning that's where slaves came from. nubianrdly, however, has meant stingy and tight with ones cash for ages.

Cracker comes from the old Florida mule team drivers, where they walked alongside the mules hauling heavy loads or barges, cracking their whips to keep them moving.

Current phrases can be found in the Urban Dictionary, usually stemming from a deliberate bastardizing of a word or phrase to create a 'cool' lingo specific to a racial party.

'Jive' was a deliberate attempt to separate from the norm by creating a 'language' specific only to those in the know.

Like, around the time of the Musketeers 'zounds 'tis blood' was swearing and the still used 'bloody' is an explicative similar to swearing. Darn is the non-offensive shortening of damn. Heck, as you can guess, is the same for hell.

I can't recall which gas company it was, but they selected a new name and had to change it because in Japan, it was swearing. (I think it was the original company that later became Exxon.) GTO, the car, meant Grand Touring Otissimo (or something) in Italian, but later was shortened to GTO, which came to mean, aptly (having owned a 1967 GTO) Gas, Tires and Oil.

I don't know where the 70s 'cool' came from but the 90s 'chill' meant to cool or settle down.

Honky is a Black negative term for a White man, though I don't know where it came from. (It's kinda hard to insult someone when they don't know what it means.)

The old 'a pox on ye' was a curse meaning for you to catch small pox or the plague.

Having consumption meant having tuberculosis, which was and is a wasting disease.

Where 'whore' came from I don't know, but 'ho' is a bastardization of whore. The associated term 'John' for a prostitutes client probably came from John Doe because they rarely gave their real names. The all-too-frequently used negative term 'biatch' comes from a female dog.

The Beatnik era of the 50s had many, many slang words, most made up to separate the 'cool' from the 'squares' (normal people).
2004-06-08 01:49:23 AM  
Rik01: The Niger river has nothing to do with it. The word is a corruption of the Spanish "negro" which means black. IF you say it allowed to yourself and then alter emphasis and slur it a bit it is easy to see how the corruption occured.

"Cool" existed long before the 70s. It's origin is part of that jive you mentioned and dates back as far as the 1930s, though mainstreamed in the 50s. "Chill" is not a 90s creation, going back to at least the 70s, though usually with the phrase "chill out," though simply "chill" was sometimes used too, especially in the 80s.
2004-06-08 01:50:29 AM  
"Allowed" was supposd to be "aloud."
2004-06-08 01:58:22 AM  

"Whore" is a very ancient word, attested very old Old English texts.

The word "charity," which we get from Latin caritas, derives from the same ancient root word.
2004-06-08 02:01:40 AM  
2004-06-07 10:28:38 PM DasCoop

Oh, I want to know if anyone uses this.. I picked it up lately from lord knows where...

Grip. meaning "a large amount" As in:

I lost a grip of money at the track.


I waste a grip of time on fark.

Been around since at least the mid ninties and maybe earlier here in minneapolis.
2004-06-08 03:29:33 AM  
Article was crap. Even AWOL was botched. It's Absent Without Official Leave, Something that Bush knows about from personal experience.

So, what's the origin of the word "ho"?

It's like "fo" for four, get it?
2004-06-08 03:52:54 AM  
Well, one of NY customers at my bar in Puerto Rico made a really good one up in 1989. He had taken this girl home from the bar the prior night and when he came in the next morning to have a Bloody Marry I asked him, "so, how did you get along with that girl last night?" He did not hesitate an eighth of a second and said "Man! she was red on the head like a d.i.c.k on a dog and she could honk on bo bo!"

I guess bo bo was his winky. I love New York surfers. Very cool people.
2004-06-08 06:25:54 AM  
What exactly does Posh mean?
Here we go:

You're on a Transatlantic Boat from England to New York. You want the Morning Sun. So on the way to NYC, you have your cabin on the Port side, the side that gets the sun in the morning. On the way back, you swap to the Starboard side, so again you get the sun in the morning. POSH.
2004-06-08 06:31:50 AM  
Except that if you read the article, you'll see that "port out, starboard home" is NOT the real origin of posh.

Coming from Viking days. The rudder was on one side of the boat meaning "Stear Board" or Starboard. The other side could be brought right up against the dock without damaging anything. One side was reserved for docking one for steering.

Just a guy who used to be in the USCG who watches to much History channel.
2004-06-08 06:50:33 AM  
What exactly does Posh mean?
Here we go:

And there you go. Urban myth. Buhbye.
2004-06-08 08:45:49 AM  
What exactly does Posh mean?

Actually, "posh" is an anangram of the word "shop," because all the rich ladies . . .

NAAH! Just messin' with yuh.
2004-06-08 08:50:19 AM  
For more information on this very subject, check out the book "Made in America" by Bill Bryson - An "informal history of the English language in America".
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0552998052/qid=1086698864/sr=​1-9/ref= sr_1_11_9/026-8550986-3885210
2004-06-08 08:54:31 AM  
I should mention that thanks to "Masde In America", I discovered that the Pennsylvanian Dutch actually had a word for the little pieces of shiat that hang from the hairs of ones arse.....arshnoddle.
2004-06-08 09:13:41 AM  
I thought Cop was short for Copper as in Bobby, old english words for a policeman. Copped is when you get something, as in 'Bill copped a punch in the face' so one could say that if you got busted, or 'copped' then the person that copped you was a 'copper', or cop for short.

Like 'owned' - 'owner'
2004-06-08 09:18:24 AM  
One of my favourites is 'Butterfly', it was a victorian joke, a spoonerism - before that they really were called 'Flutter-By'.
2004-06-08 09:56:00 AM  
I must disagree with the authors explenation of "dressed to the nines"; "The whole nine yards" reffers to the amount of fabric it takes to make approximately a three piece suit and "dressed to the nines" is a deviation of that.

Yah, I guess I'll trust some farker because he says two phrases with the same word are derived from each other.

You know, as opposed to a farking etymologist. I mean, you're making the exact farking mistake he points out that people make all the time.

"I have to disagree" blah blah blah. Disagree all you want dude, you don't know what the fark you're talking about.
2004-06-08 09:57:04 AM  
Just in case anyone was still interested, etymologist Evan Morris, a.k.a. The Word Detective has this to say about the word POSH.

/my two cents.
2004-06-08 11:08:29 AM  
The two I don't get are:
"Bollocks"=bad, shiat, etc..
while "Dog's bollocks"=good, cool, etc..
2004-06-08 11:29:19 AM  
I dunno.

dypchit's 'whole 9 yards' explanation sounds feasible for 'dressed to the 9s.' Especially when you look at old pictures of people back in the 20s and so on, when almost every guy wore a suit and fedora. A well made suit, complete with baggy pants and a higher waist than today, would probably consume 9 yards of material.

BTW: The insane and ludicrous 'zute suit' thankfully didn't last long because WW2 came along shortly after it's creation and material was needed for the war effort. The suit took too much material to make.

Anyone recall the old, old movies like the ones Fred McMurray (great actor) was in, where college kids drove 'flivvers' and usually wrote on them things like 'Oh! You kid!' and '23 skiddoo'? They wore huge raccoon fur coats back then.
2004-06-08 11:51:33 AM  
What happened to "He was all trouser, no snake?" We used that all the time!
2004-06-08 11:51:50 AM  
One of my favourites is 'Butterfly', it was a victorian joke, a spoonerism - before that they really were called 'Flutter-By'.

I think is this an urban legend too.

In some old North German dialects (which have many words that are more Old English based rather than Modern German) a butterfly (schmetterlinck) used to be called Buttervogel, literally "Butter bird" or "Butter wing", and I believe it refers to the golden-yellow wings of some of the larger butterflies (Monarch?) often seen.
2004-06-08 11:54:20 AM  
2004-06-08 11:58:52 AM  
Actually, it's "zoot suit".

/I'm just sayin..
2004-06-08 12:00:11 PM  
According to the American Heritage New College Dictionary, butterfly comes from Old English butterfleoge (notice the similarity of fleoge and the German vogel), and literally means butter-fly.

They say it make come from the old wives' belief that they steal milk and butter. I'd still argue that the color of the Monarch's wings in the sun are like nothing so much as butter.
2004-06-08 01:39:35 PM  
GIS for "posh"
[image from supyo.com too old to be available]
2004-06-08 02:44:21 PM  
"Suaaave! God DAMN, you are one suave fark!"
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