Archive for January, 2011
Posted by Elyse Bruce on January 31, 2011
Have you ever watched a movie and heard the expression, “Here’s mud in your eye?” It sounds awful but it’s actually an interesting way of wishing success or happiness to someone who is drinking with the person making the wish. The history of the phrase is complex, confused and disputed by a number of sources and so Idiomation was unable to track back who first used the phrase.
This toast may have been popular with the soldiers slogging through the muddy trenches of WWI, but it did not originate with them, as many believe. Some say that back in the day the phrase symbolised a plentiful crop when farmers used to raise a glass to the success of a good harvest. It was being bandied about in U.S. saloons as early as 1890 and was popular with the English fox hunting and race horse crowd before then.
According to Morten’s List, the roots are found in the Gospel of John (Chapter 9) where there’s mention of the medicinal qualities of “mud in the eye” but the toast doesn’t appear anywhere in the New Testament.
Back on Christmas Eve 1931, the Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper ran a humourous parody of the well-loved poem, “Twas The Night Before Christmas.” Entitled simple as “Night Before Christmas” the poem went as follows:
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the apartment house
Everybody was stirring, including a prohibition enforcement department souse
Who might better have remained home with his wife and kiddies, I think
But he apparently figured it was his privilege to snoop around and bum himself a drink.
He polished his badge, then rang each apartment bell,
And when admitted, rubbed his hands and exclaimed, “Well, well, well!
If any one in this her apartment is in illegal possession of bourbon and rye,
They better pour the evidence in a glass. Thanks. Here’s mud in your eye!”
And then, in a flash, he’d tip toe out the door
And go right back to some apartment he had called on before.
Consequently he was able to make a long report to his chief
In which he went into considerable detail to express the belief
That the particular district on which he was assigned to keep an eye
Was, thanks to his personal efforts, by now practically dry.
On May 14, 1930 the Pittsburgh Press ran an article written by Joe Williams entitled, “Tannery, That’s Where He’s Going: Colonel’s Hot Derby Tip” about the upcoming Derby in Louisville. It read in part:
I am not surprised to learn that mud is the favorite dish of my hoss and that the theme song of his whole family has always been “Here’s Mud In Your Eye” — a song which is sung with splashing effect on training fields. Tannery’s daddy, Ballot, was weaned on mud and his mammy, Blemish, wouldn’t leave the barns unless it was raining pitchforks and pearl necklaces, and nobody could ever persuade the old gal to carry a parasol and even put on her galoshes. Well, this makes it pretty nice as I say I am not surprised because I have known for more than a week that my hoss was as good as in, and if he needs a muddy track I am sure that something will happen to see that he gets one.
The fact of the matter is that it’s a relatively new phrase with which to toast others when expressed as “mud in the eye” or “mud in your eye.”
The phrase was used back in the 1930s but did the previous generation use the phrase? It would appear the answer is “yes” as evidenced by a very popular song from 1905 that was heard at many American Baseball Leagues games, entitled, “Let’s Get The Umpire’s Goat” that includes these lyrics:
We’ll yell, “Oh, you robber! Go somewhere and die,
Back to the bush you’ve got mud in your eye!
Oh what an awful decision! Why don’t you put spectacles on?”
Let’s holler like sin, and then our side will win, when the umpire’s nanny is gone.
Idiomation was unable to trace the phrase back any further than this however it’s a given that if it was used so easily in 1905 in song lyrics, then it was likely common use for that generation which means it is not unreasonable to believe it was in use the generation before that, taking us back to the 1870s.
Posted in Idioms from the 19th Century, Idioms from the 20th Century | Tagged: 1905, 1930, 1931, Christmas Eve 1931, Here's Mud In Your Eye, Joe Williams, Kentucky Derby, Let's Get The Umpire's Goat, Louisville (KY), Milwaukee Sentinel, mud in the eye, mud in your eye, Night Before Christmas, Pittsburgh Press, song lyrics with mud in them | 5 Comments »
Posted by Elyse Bruce on January 28, 2011
In case you are wondering, yes, “shake” is a recognized unit of time. At the time of the first atomic bomb, scientists needed a term for an interval of time equal to 10 nanoseconds. Since two shakes of a lamb’s tail is very quick, scientists coined the word “shake” to describe this unit of time. But where does this phrase come from originally?
In the Toledo Blade newspaper of March 30, 1961 in the “Tell Me Why” column, A. Leokum started the column by writing:
Suppose you ask someone to do something for you quickly. He might say: “I’ll do it in a minute.” But he might also say: “I’ll do it before you can say Jack Robinson” or “I’ll do it in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.” The point is that when we set up a unit of time such as an hour or a minute, we are doing it by agreement or convention. We have decided that so much and so much time shall be called a “minute” or “hour.” But in setting up divisions of time there are certain natural events that can guide us.
That being said, two shakes of a lamb’s tail was a recognized time unit in the 1920s as evidenced in Pittsburgh (PA) in an advertisement that ran in The Gazette Times newspaper on May 3, 1920. The advertisement for The Men’s Store of Pittsburgh: The Only Place In Western Pennsylvania Where You Can Buy New York’s Finest Rogers Peet Clothes read:
In two shakes of a lamb’s tail! Replenishing your wardrobe may take even less time than that — our stock of Spring Suits and Overcoats is so ample. A size for every build. They’re “made to fit” not “to measure.” Highest type of tailoring. Prices reasonable.
Back on September 28, 1881 a Letter to the Editor appeared in the Nelson Evening Mail in New Zealand. The letter began with:
A Brooklyn man spent seven hours writing an essay to prove that a woman is inferior to a man, and then spent two hours more and a heap of profanity in an ineffectual attempt to thread a needle, a job which a woman finally did for him in about two shakes of a lamb’s tail.
A generation before that on August 26, 1853 in an article entitled “Turning The Tables” and published in the New Zealand newspaper, the Daily Southern Cross, the following was published:
A correspondent of the ‘Dublin Warder’ shows how an old acquaintance once turned the tables upon the bailiffs. Two smart-looking fellows dressed as sailors, and with a rolling seaman-like gait, called at his house, and chucking the servant under the chin, told her to tell her master that they had brought commands from his brother, who was at that time at sea. The credulous debtor eagerly opened the door and was soon in the arms of the bailiffs. After complimenting them upon t heir ingenuity, he invited them into a back parlour, and begged they’d wait till he’d send off a bit of a note to a friend that he expected would arrange it for him. “The messenger was back in the shakin’ of a lamb’s tail; and, my dear life, ’twasn’t long till the tables wor rightly turned, and the brace o’ shoulder tappers frightened out o’ their seven sinses by the arrival of a press gang; and, says Misther Blake, throwin’ the freemason’s sign to the officer, who happened, as Providence would order it, to be a Leithrim man. Here’s a pair o’ light active chaps that have deserted their ship and are disgracin, the blue jacket by actin’ as bailiffs.” Sure that was a sore day for the disguised bailiffs, for notwithstanding their entreaties, they were obliged to go with the gang!
In the end, the phrase first appeared in Richard Barham’s book “Ingoldsby Legends” published in 1840 however that it was used with such ease in a news article in 1853 gives reason to believe that the phrase existed in modern language long before 1840.
Posted in Idioms from the 19th Century | Tagged: 1840, 1853, 1881, 1920, 1961, Daily Southern Cross, first atomic bomb, Ingoldsby Legends, Men's Store of Pittsburgh, Nelson Evening Mail, Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Richard Barham, scientific unit of time, shake equals 10 nanoseconds, shaking of a lamb's tail, Toledo Blade, two shakes of a lamb's tail, two shakes of a nanny goat's tail | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Elyse Bruce on January 27, 2011
Weather folklore has been around for centuries and sometimes what works in one part of the world, doesn’t work nearly as well in other parts. Regardless, all sorts of interesting rhymes have come into existence due to weather folklore and “red skies at night, sailors delight” is just one of those rhymes.
In North America, we know the entire rhyme as being:
Red sky at night, sailors delight,
Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.
But in the United Kingdom, it’s not sailors who pay attention to the skies. It’s shepherd’s that keep an eye on the colour of the sky.
Red sky at night, shepherds delight,
Red sky in morning, shepherds warning.
William Shakespeare – who appears often in Idiomation entries — wrote the poem Venus and Adonis in 1592 with the following weather folklore included:
Like a red morn that ever yet betokened,
Wreck to the seaman, tempest to the field,
Sorrow to the shepherds, woe unto the birds,
Gusts and foul flaws to herdmen and to herds.
Going back to the Bible, the following passage is found in Matthew 16:1-3:
The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.
In 650 BC, the Babylonians predicted the weather from cloud patterns and in 340 BC, Aristotle described weather patterns in Meteorologica. But as to when the rhyme “red skies at night” came into existence during that time is anyone’s guess.
Now, the question whether weather folklore has any basis in science is an interesting question to ask. The fact of the matter is that when we see a red sky at night, this means that light from the setting sun has a high concentration of dust particles which usually indicates high pressure and stable air coming in from the west. So yes, a red sky at night means one can expect that good weather will follow.
Likewise, if you experience a red sun at morning, take heed. A red sunrise is reflecting the dust particles of a system that has just passed from the west. What this means is that a storm system may be moving to the east. If the morning sky is a deep fiery red, it means a high water content can be found in the atmosphere and it’s reasonable to believe that rain is on its way.
Posted in Ancient Civilizations, Babylonia, Bible, China, Christian, Greece, Religious References | Tagged: 1592, Aristotle, Babylonia, Christian Bible, Matthew 16:1-3, Meteorologica, Old Testament, red skies at morning, red skies at night, sailors, Shakespeare, shepherds, Venus and Adonis, weather folklore, William Shakespeare | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Elyse Bruce on January 26, 2011
The proverb “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” is commonly misattributed To Benjamin Franklin, who quoted it in his Poor Richard’s Almanack back in 1732.
Back in 1639, John Clarke wrote and published “Parœmiologia Anglo-Latina” or ‘Proverbs English, and Latin’ and it contained the proverb, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
Just a shade over a century before that, in 1532, author Anthony Fitzherbert wrote and published “The Book of Husbandry” which states the following:
One thinge I wyl aduise the to remembre, and specially in wynter-tyme, whan thou sytteste by the fyre, and hast supped, to consyder in thy mynde, whether the warkes, that thou, thy wyfe, & thy seruauntes shall do, be more auauntage to the tan the fyre, and candell-lyghte, meate and drynke that they shall spende, and if it be more auantage, than syt styll: and if it be not, than go to thy bedde and slepe, and be vppe betyme, and breake thy faste before day, that thou mayste be all the shorte wynters day about thy busynes. At grammer-scole I lerned a verse, that is this, Sanat, sanctificat, et ditat surgere mane. That is to say, Erly rysyng maketh a man hole in body, holer in soule, and rycher in goodes. And this me semeth shuld be sufficient instruction for the husbande to kepe measure.
A similar expression dating back to 1496, provides an earlier version of the saying and appeared in “A Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle” that provides this:
Also who soo woll vse the game of anglynge: he must ryse erly. Whiche thyng is prouffrable to man in this wyse / That is to wyte: moost to the heele of his soule. For it shall cause hym to be hole. Also to the encrease of his goodys. For it shall make hym ryche. As the olde englysshe prouverbe sayth in this wyse. Who soo woll ryse erly shall be holy, helthy and zely.
For those who don’t know, zely means to be happy and fortunate. There’s no mention of going to bed early however the sense of the proverb is similar in tone to the later version. The author introduces the text by stating “as the olde englysshe prouverbe sayth in this wyse” and this is to be noted because it establishes the fact that the proverb is considerably older than 1496.
Also in 1496, in the “Book of Hawking” mention that the proverb is an old saying is referenced thusly:
As the olde englysshe proverbe sayeth in this wise: who soo woll ryse erly shall be holy, helthy, and zely.
So it is reasonable to believe that the proverb goes back considerably farther than 1496. We have the Latin version: “Sanat, sanctificat, et ditat surgere mane” which translates to “That he may be healthy, happy, and wise, let him rise early.”
And we also have Aristotle writing, “It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.”
Posted in Ancient Civilizations, Greece, Rome | Tagged: 1496, A Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle, Anthony Fitzherbert, Aristotle, Benjamin Franklin, Book of Hawking, early to bed, early to rise, John Clarke, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise, Parœmiologia Anglo-Latina, Poor Richard's Almanack, The Book of Husbandry | 1 Comment »
Posted by Elyse Bruce on January 25, 2011
We know that a New York minute is packed with all sorts of excitement and happen faster than any other sort of minute. Texas time is the exact opposite and is a slow, relaxed, laid back sort of measurement of time although not lacking in a starting or ending point.
Back on April 16, 1994 Journalist Kimberly Johnson of the Wilmington (NC) Morning Star News reported on an outdoor concert by country singer Ronnie McDowell. The news article reported:
After country singer Ronnie McDowell came onto the field in a red sports car and sung, “I’d make love to you in a New York minute / take my Texas time doing it,” Mr. Smiley went right on swaying and bobbing. So did 14-year-olds Robyn Norris, Heather Hayes and Serena Stanley.
Idiomation was unable to locate the phrase “take my Texas time” published prior to the release of the Ronnie McDowell song.
Posted in Idioms from the 20th Century | Tagged: 1983, Kimberly Johnson, Ronnie McDowell, take my Texas time, Wilmington Morning Star News | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Elyse Bruce on January 24, 2011
People believe that everything happens more quickly in New York City than anywhere else in the world and so it makes sense to hear the phrase “in a New York minute” and to expect it’s going to be faster than any other minutes.
Maybe it’s because there’s so many things to do in New York City what with Broadway shows, music in parks and on streets as well as in restaurants with city views and sidewalk cafés, the Statue of Liberty, Chinatown, the Chelsea Piers, South Street Seaport, the Empire State Building, Little Italy, Little Brazil, Central Park, horse-drawn carriages, Park Ave, Fashion Ave, Battery Park, Wall Street, the Village, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Times Square, Herald Square, Union Square and more.
In the Spartanburg (SC) Herald Journal edition of October 20, 1986, page 3 has an article that states:
“Welcome to Houston,” wrote Forbes magazine in 1983, “where lizard-skin boots go with pin stripes, and business is done quicker than a New York minute.”
The phrase — evidently a Southernism used with particular frequency in Texas — was given further national currency as the title of a song by Ronnie McDowell that made the country music top 40 in 1985.
On September 14, 1985 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on court proceedings in its story “Immunity Johnson’s Toughest Decision.” The story dealt with the case of Philadelphia caterer Curtis Strong who was charged with 16 counts of selling cocaine to players in Pittsburgh between 1980 and 1984. The paper reported in part:
[U.S. Attorney J. Alan] Johnson was asked if he could charge any of the players with crimes if he learns later that any of them were selling drugs. “Not only could I, but I’d do it in a New York minute,” he responded.
No ball players were called to testify during the trial yesterday. But defense attorney Adam O. Renfroe Jr. dais he believes the emphasis of the trial has shifted away from his client and that professional baseball has been put on trial.
Although it can’t be proven, it’s believed that the phrase may have something to do with a misreading of news reports about Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh‘s tour of the country in his Spirit of St. Louis. He and the plane arrived one minute ahead of schedule and of course, the headlines on that day in October 1927 read:
LINDBERGH ENDS NATIONAL TOUR: Lands on Mitchel Field at New York Minute Before He Is Due.
The news stories stated that the crowd cheered and jostled as the Spirit of St. Louis crossed over the field, banked, sideslipped and dipped to earth at 1:59 p.m. The plane then taxied into a police-ringed hangar and Lindbergh, bareheaded and leather-jacketed, stepped into a car which bore him between cheering crowds to the airport’s operations office. While the crowd outside pushed against the windows and shouted for another view of Lindbergh, he greeted newspaper men.
However, it’s also possible that the phrase draws on such historical events as the Underground Railway between Brooklyn and New York City. On January 24, 1890 the Chicago Daily Tribune published a news article entitled, “Brooklyn To New York In A Minute.” The story commented on Major B.S. Henning, the leading spirit in the Henning Gravity Tunnel Company and the newly formed East River Railway Company, where the details of the one-minute Brooklyn-to-New York scheme was laid out for newspapermen.
Posted in Idioms from the 20th Century | Tagged: 1890, 1927, 1983, 1985, 1986, Chicago Daily Tribune, Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh, East River Railway Company, Forbes, Henning Gravity Tunnel Company, in a New York Minute, New York City, New York Minute, Pittsburg Post-Gazette, Spartanburg Herald-Journal, Spirit of St. Louis, U.S. Attorney J. Alan Johnson, Underground Railway | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Elyse Bruce on January 21, 2011
The phrase as the crow flies refers to the shortest distance between two points. But here’s something else you may not know about crows. British coastal vessels used to carry a cage of crows with them in the days before radar (this is also why the lookout perch on sailing vessels is known as the crow’s nest). When released while at sea, crows fly towards the nearest land which was particularly useful back in the day if the ship’s captain was sailing in foggy waters and was unsure as to where land lay. The reason crows fly towards the nearest land is because crows detest large expanses of water.
It wasn’t until 1934 that a patent was granted in the United States to Taylor, Young and Hyland for a system for detecting objects by radio and further interest in radar development was shown in America by the Naval Research Laboratory, US Army Signal Corps, RCA and AT&T Bell Laboratories. Research and development continued throughout the 1930s in countries around the world.
In The Living Age magazine, in Volume 0164, Issue 2121 published on February 14, 1885, the magazine contained a story that said:
Towards evening, they sky above the mountains opposite to my place of observation yielded a series of the most splendidly-coloured iris-rings; but on lowering the selenite until it had the darkness of the pines at the opposite side of the Rhone valley, instead of the darkness of space as a background, t he colours were not much diminished in brilliancy. I should estimate the distance across the valley, as the crow flies, to the opposite mountains, at nine miles; so that a body of air nine miles thick can, under favourable circumstances, produce chromatic effects of polarization almost as vivid as those produced by the sky itself.
Over a century before that, the London Review Of English And Foreign Liturature, by W. Kenrick published in 1767 provides this passage:
The Spaniaad [sic], if on foot, always travels as the crow flies, which the openness and dryness of the country permits; neither rivers nor the steepest mountains stop his course, he swims over the one and scales the other.
In 1540, Garci Lopez de Cardenas led a party to the Grand Canyon. Pedro de Castaneda Najera recorded the event and said that the Spaniards estimated the width of the canyon to the north to be:
… three or four leagues as the crow flies across to the other bank of the stream which flowed between [the rims].
In the accounts of Sultan Mahmud‘s Kanauj campaign of AD 1018, there are multiple references to “as the crow flies” when stating distances. And 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer, Josephus (37 AD – 100 AD) used the term “as the crow flies” when stating distances. For example, the distance from Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives was six furlongs (3,637 feet) but only five furlongs (3,031 feet) as the crow flies.
As a side note, the most important works by Josephus were The Jewish War written around 75 AD that dealt with the Jewish revolt against Roman occupation and Antiquities of the Jews written around 94 AD that dealt with the history of the world from a Jewish perspective.
It is very likely that the phrase “as the crow flies” goes back even further however Idiomation was unable to find any records going back beyond this date for this particular phrase.
Posted in Ancient Civilizations, Rome | Tagged: 1018, 1540, 1767, 1885, 1934, 94 AD, as the crow flies, AT&T Bell, Garci Lopez de Cardenas, Josephus, London Review Of English And Foreign Liturature, Naval Research Laboratory, Pedro de Castaneda Najera, radar, RCA, Sultan Mahmud, The Living Age, U.S. Army Signal Corps, W. Kenrick | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Elyse Bruce on January 20, 2011
The phrase “dead duck” is a funny sounding phrase. It brings to light an interesting visual and questions about how a dead duck became synonymous with the concept of being ineffectual.
The Irish Canadian newspaper of May 20, 1886 reported on Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Gladstone of the Liberal Party by stating that
Protests are even now coming home to him, charging him with having almost accomplished the ruin of the Liberal party, and declaring that his usefulness as a leader is gone. His vanity has destroyed all chances to the succession and his treachery of his chief has made it painfully manifest that he can no longer be trusted. Come what may, one this is certain: Mr. Chamberlain is a dead duck politically. Not so, however, with Mr. Gladstone. He is cheered by many voices all over the land, urging him, in the event of an adverse vote upon his bill, not to resign, but to appeal to the people. It is thought that this course will be adopted, provided her Majesty consents to a dissolution.
The term “dead duck” referring to politicians wasn’t something new in 1886. History shows that in 1866, Andrew Johnson referred to John W. Forney, publisher of Philadelphia and Washington newspapers, as a dead duck. In fact, when the New York Times reported on it on February 28, 1866, it came with the headline “Degree Conferred” and read in part:
On Thursday last, President, ANDREW JOHNSON, of the Union College, Washington City, conferred the honorary title of “dead duck” upon JOHN W. FORNEY, Esq. This exaltation creates some surprise, since it is not known that the recipient was ever in holy orders, and some go so far as to say that the President is making game of him.
Back on May, 15, 1829 the Glasgow Herald reported a very strange thing indeed. It stated that the following had been published in the Dublin Morning Register:
In opposition to the dictum of Judge Littledale, that a dead duck was not a duck, Mr. Serjeant Adams has decided that a dead rabbit is a rabbit. The vitality of a duck is one vitality, and the vitality of a rabbit is another vitality.
The phrase “dead duck” is an Americanism from the 1830s, originally it was political slang referring to a person who has lost influence or power and was therefore useless. In fact, it was used in conversation without hesitation by the 1840s.
There are even Letters to the Editor such as the one dated August 29, 1839 and published in the Hartford (CT) Courant newspaper. The editor prefaced its publication by stating, “The following communication was received two or three weeks since. The subject of it was considered rather small game for the writer, and it was laid on the table. Other considerations now induce us to give it a place.”
The author of the Letter to the Editor describes the accusations made by another party with regards to the next General Election in this way:
Respecting this accusation, he let off his popgun at the dead duck.
So somewhere between 1829 a dead duck that was not a duck came to mean — within a decade – an ineffectual person. How that happened is something Idiomation could not track down.
What Idiomation did learn is that the word dead comes from the Old English word dead which hails from the Germanic word *dauthaz” from the 13th century. Somewhere between “dead drunk” of 1599 and “dead on” of 1889, the phrase “dead duck” came into existence and has been around ever since.
Posted in Idioms from the 19th Century | Tagged: 13th Century, 1829, 1839, 1866, 1886, Andrew Jackson, Chamberlain, dauthaz, dead duck, degree conferred, Dublin Morning Register, Gladstone, Glasgow Herald, Hartford Courant, Irish Canadian Newspaper, John W. Forney, Liberal Party, New York Times | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Elyse Bruce on January 19, 2011
The saying has been around for years and everyone from your great-grandmother to your kindergarten teacher and all kinds of people in between. On September 30, 1911 the Chicago Tribune reported on the Cubs and Giants game in the pennant struggle. The news article read in part:
Don’t count your chickens until they are hatched is an old saying, and it holds good in baseball.
Poet and satirist Samuel Butler (1612 – 1680) used this advice in his poem, Hudibras, written in 1664:
To swallow gudgeons ere they’re catch’d,
And count their chickens ere they’re hatched.
English poet, Thomas Howell published a book entitled The Arbor of Amitie, wherein is comprised pleasant Poems and pretie Poesies, set foorth by Thomas Howell, Gentleman in 1568. Two years later in 1570, in his new book, New Sonnets and Pretty Pamphlets he wrote a poem that had this couplet:
Counte not thy Chickens that vnhatched be,
Waye wordes as winde, till thou finde certaintee.
However it was Aesop’s fable from 570 B.C. entitled “The Milkmaid and Her Pail.”
A milkmaid was going to market carrying her milk in a pail on her head. As she went along she began calculating what she would do with the money she would get for the milk.
“I’ll buy some fowls from the farmer next door,” said she, “and they will lay eggs each morning, which I will sell to others. With the money that I get from the sale of these eggs, I’ll buy a new dress for myself. This way, when I go to market, all the young men will come up and speak to me! Other girls will be jealous but I won’t care. I will just look at them and toss my head like this.”
And with those words, the milkmaid tossed her head back. The pail fell off her head and all the milk was spilled on the ground. She had no choice but to go home and tell her mother what had happened to the milk.
“Ah, my child,” said the mother, “Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.”
Posted in Ancient Civilizations, Greece | Tagged: 1570, 1664, 1911, 570 BC, Aesop, Chicago Tribune, Cubs, don't count your chickens until your eggs are hatched, Giants, Hudibras, New Sonnets and Pretty Pamphlets, Samuel Butler, The Milkmaid and the Pail | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Elyse Bruce on January 18, 2011
Back in 2008, it was reported in The Telegraph newspaper in the UK that the reason that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush had been uncovered by scientists.
Human nature is such that supposedly individuals overvalue what he or she has and undervalue what he or she doesn’t have. A sense of entitlement actually more to do with the fear of losing a desired possession than wanting it in the first place.
The earliest English version of the proverb is from the Christian Bible translated into English by William Tyndale in 1528 and before Tyndale, by John Wycliffe in 1382.
However, the phrase reaches back to 100 A.D. when Ancient Greek author Plutarch wrote Of Garrulity, where he states:
He is a fool who lets slip a bird in the hand for a bird in the bush.
However, back in 600 BC, Greek storyteller Aesop wrote a fable entitled “The Hawk and the Nightingale.” The story went like this:
A Nightingale, perched on an oak, was spotted by a Hawk, who swooped down and snatched him.
The Nightingale begged the Hawk to let him go, insisting he wasn’t big enough to satisfy the hunger of a Hawk, who ought to pursue bigger birds.
The Hawk said, “I’d be crazy to release a bird I’ve already caught in favor of birds I don’t even yet see.”
The moral of this story is: “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush.”
Posted in Ancient Civilizations, Greece | Tagged: 100 AD, 1382, 1528, 600 BC, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, Aesop, John Wycliffe, Of Garrulity, Plutarch, The Hawk and the Nightingale, The Telegraph, William Tyndale | Leave a Comment »