Historically Speaking

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Archive for December, 2013

Thanking Those Who Visit Idiomation

Posted by Elyse Bruce on December 31, 2013

I want to thank each and every one of my readers and visitors for visiting Idiomation in 2013.  Over the past year, Idiomation has continued to grow and our “Friends Of Idiomation” has increased in number.  As we make our way towards 2014, I’d like to share some milestones with you.

With hundreds of unique hits to the blog daily, our best day was March 12 with 579 hits!  While many of those visits went to the “Devil’s Bedpost” entry, there were other entries that were nearly as popular as the “Devil’s Bedpost.”

Busiest Day_Unique Hits_IMAGE

With hundreds of unique visits each and every day, it’s easy to understand how our monthly totals are in the five digits every single month (and in the six digits for the yearly total)!

Top 5 Idioms in 2013_IMAGE

As popular as the “Devil’s Bedpost” was, there were 5 idioms that garnered excellent averaged hits throughout 2013.  I was surprised to learn what the top 5 idioms were, and at the same time, pleased to see that many of them had their roots in serious literature.

I wasn’t surprised to see that Facebook and Twitter were among the top 5 referring sites in 2013.  But I was pleased to see that the Smithsonian and Wikipedia snagged the #2 and #3 spots respectively on the list of top referring sites, with Yahoo! Answers rounding out the group.

Top Referring Sites in 2013_IMAGE

This year, the blog spawned the first in a series of books, and is available through Amazon.com.  Just click HERE to visit Amazon and pick up your copy of “Idiomation: Book 1” and look for a follow-up book in months to come.

Idiomation_Book_1_Cover

I’m looking forward to adding more idioms to the blog in 2014, making IDIOMATION one of the premiere blogs for important information on idioms used in English-speaking countries around the world.

As the last few hours of 2013 bring us closer to 2014, I’m thanking all of you for visiting this blog site as well as my other blog sites — the Elyse Bruce blog, the Missy Barrett blog, and the Midnight In Chicago blog — as well as my Twitter (@ElyseBruce and @glassonastick), ReverbNation, SoundClick,  and Facebook profiles (both my personal Timeline as well as my Fan Page), and my websites: Midnight In Chicago, and Elyse Bruce.

May 2014 bring you health, wealth and happiness, and may all your heart’s desires come true this coming year.  I’m looking forward to seeing you back here in 2014 to read up on the histories of some of your favorite idioms, and to find out the meaning and histories of idioms you’ve always wondered about.

Elyse Bruce

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Cold Turkey

Posted by Elyse Bruce on December 20, 2013

When you quit something point blank instead of tapering off or cutting down gradually, you’ve gone cold turkey. Although some claim it relates to walking away from an addiction, the term applies to many other activities that are stopped immediately. In some cases, it also means to speak frankly, and in yet other cases, it has nothing to do with being frank or quitting a behavior.

In 2006, Brian Snowdon and Howard R. Vane wrote and published a book entitled, “An Encyclopedia of Macroeconimics.” On page 135, the following definition for cold turkey is given:

A rapid and permanent reduction in the rate of monetary growth aimed at reducing the rate of inflation.

The idea of cold turkey referring to economics isn’t new. When Sweder van Wijnbergen wrote his book “Should Price Reform Proceed Gradually Or In A Big Bang?” he included the idiom on page 26 where he wrote in part:

Thus cold turkey programs will unambiguously be more credible than gradual programs that actually cause increasing shortages in their initial phase: and even if gradual programs do not cause increasing shortages, cold turkey decontrol program will still be more credible.

In Mickey Spillane’s book “The Deep” published in 1961 the following exchange can be read:

“Easy, kid. You could have been part of a setup. The word goes out to stay clear of Bennett’s place during a certain time … or if you get clear to make a call to let somebody know … and then blooie, Bennett catches it and you’re clean. Almost.”

He didn’t like that last word.

“The cops figure like that and tie it in and you’ll be doing the turkey act downtown. Cold turkey. Think you could take it?”

“Deep … jeez! Look, you know I wouldn’t … hell, Bennett and me, we was friends. You know, friends!” He was perched on the very edge of the bed shaking like a scared bird.

Later on in the book, he author wrote:

I grinned nastily so Pedro could see it. “Nothing special. I just put our buddy in the path of law and order. He’s a junkie, so I dropped a few days’ poppilng [sic] in his pocket with the gimmicks and if he gets picked up he goes cold turkey downtown. In five minutes a cop’ll walk in here and off this laddie goes. Unless he talks, of course. In that case he can even keep what’s in his pocket.

In fact, in the book, by Vincent Joseph Monteleone entitled, “Criminal Slang: The Vernalucar of the Underground Lingo” published in 1945 and reprinted in 1949, he states that cold turkey means a number of things including:

1. to speak frankly;
2. to be arrested with the loot in one’s possession; and
3. to quit using drugs without tapering off or without drugs to relieve the withdrawal.

Going back to 1928 and the magazine “The Author & Journalist” the idiom is used on page 28 in an article by Alan Streeter entitled, “Putting ‘Cold Turkey‘ Into Writing.” Alan Streeter wrote:

… in getting stories by the “cold turkey” method. [The writer] must be able to ascertain the general standing of the merchant or the store about which the article is to be written.

Oddly enough, in a book by Theodore Roosevelt published in 1888, and again in 1904, and entitled “Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail: An Account Of Life In The Cattle Country Of The Far West” he wrote of a gentleman known as Cold Turkey Bill in Chapter VI entitled, “Frontier Types.” In this chapter he wrote:

He was victorious over the first two or three eminent citizens whom he encountered, and then tackled a gentleman known as “Cold Turkey Bill.” Under ordinary circumstances, Cold Turkey, though an able-bodied man was no mater for The Pike; but the latter was still rather drunk, and moreover was wearied by his previous combats. So Cold Turkey got him down, lay on him, choked him by the throat with one hand, and began pounding his face with a triangular rock held in the other. To the onlookers the fate of the battle seemed decided; but Cold Turkey better appreciated the endurance of his adversary, and it soon appeared that he sympathized with the traditional hunter who, having caught a wildcat, earnestly besought a comrade to help him let it go.

No explanation is proffered in the book explaining how Cold Turkey Bill got his nickname. That being said, it was in August 1915 that the following was printed in the Oakland Tribune:

This letter talks cold turkey. It gets down to brass.

Even back in 1915, cold turkey meant to speak frankly without any gradual minimizing of words to get to the subject at hand. Unfortunately, Idiomation was unable to find an earlier published version of cold turkey, and since it was used so eloquently in 1915, it’s reasonable to peg this idiom to the previous generation. In other words, it most likely was an expression that came out of the 1880s, and quite possibly from the expression talk turkey.

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Talking Turkey

Posted by Elyse Bruce on December 18, 2013

When someone talks turkey, they’re being honest and direct about an issue. The intention is to discuss something seriously, and to resolve the issues that are part of the issue.

On November 23, 2013, Directors Magazine published an article with information compiled by Mark Newel, Jon Campbell and Lou Yost. The focus was on geographical locations across America that had key Thanksgiving themes in their names such as Turkey, Pilgrim, and Cranberry. The article was aptly titled, “USGS: Let’s Talk Turkey Across The Landscape.”

In Volume 39 of the Magazine of Business published in 1921, an article titled, “Over The Executive’s Desk” used the idiom repeatedly. The opening paragraph read thusly:

When business folks begin to “talk turkey,” interest grows. And those interested in the “talk” work, think and progress with increasing intensity. This is not theory; we all know it to be a fact. It was on this principle that the general sales manager of the American Slicing Machine Company based his campaign against tardiness and absenteeism in the office.

The American Clay Magazine reported on anything and everything relating to clay workers and the clay industry. Published by the American Clay Machinery Company, the company was touted as a brick manufacturer that not only made bricks, but one that also made a speciality of building machinery adapted to every peculiarity of clay regardless of location or country in which the clay was found. In one of the 1907 issues, one of the articles discussed the continuous kiln in Youngstown on the Bessimer yards, and within that article the following was stated:

But shaw! what’s the use of talking to you, Mr. Brickmaker, about the benefits of a brick home. What is necessary is for you to talk turkey to your customers or rather to those who ought to be your customers. You are missing a heap of good business every day and if you put up the rich argument you could get it. We’ve been trying to help you on the selling end of the game by printing selling talk and selling articles — matter which boosts brick.

In “John Beedle’s Sleigh Ride, Courtship, and Marriage” by Captain William L. McClintock of the U.S. Army and published by C. Wells in New York back in 1841, an amazing story that was actually a collection of anonymous writings published in the Portland Courier over the years, under the pen name of John Neal. Under the section of “Marriage” the following can be found in this book:

Patty Bean was not the first that I run against by a long shot. I never lost any thing for want of asking; and I was plaguy apt to begin to talk turkey always when I got sociable, if it was only out of politeness. Now then one would promise, and then fly off at the handle; but most all contrived some reason or other for giving me the bag to hold.

The Niles Weekly Register, Volume 52 of June 3, 1837 alleges that the Oneida Democrat attributed the phrase to a Native American Indian and told a humorous story that allegedly passed between a white man and a Native American Indian that resulted in the idiom.  This story first appears in print in 1837 but is repeated with multiple variations to the story throughout the 1840s with the story happening in a number of states, and the companion bird sometimes being a crow and sometimes an owl.  Based on this, the story is most likely an urban myth of the time period.

Prior to the publication of Captain McClintock’s story in book form in 1841, the complete story was printed in serialized form in Atkinson’s Casket of 1835, with attribution to the Portland Advertiser newspaper. In fact, in Atkinson’s Casket, Chapter III (where the idiom is used), is introduced in this way:

All who have heretofore read the “Sleigh Ride” and “The Courting” will need no further recommendation of the following, than to be informed that it is from the same gifted pen from the Portland Advertiser.

Since the idiom was used in this story dating back to at least 1835, it is reasonable to peg it to at least 1800 in light of the fact that Idiomation was unable to find an earlier published date for this idiom than the one in the Atkinson’s Casket edition of 1835.

Posted in Idioms from the 19th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Like Turkeys Voting For Christmas

Posted by Elyse Bruce on December 16, 2013

If people are like turkeys voting for Christmas, it means they have decided to accept a situation that will end badly for them. In other words, the action taken to resolve a situation is also ont that’s self-defeating at the same time. This doesn’t make for a good situation or a good solution no matter how you look at it.

When Nuala Nolan in Galway wrote to the Independent newspaper on January 4, 2011 she was concerned with the water distribution systems and the installation of water meters that would be unworkable with the next cold spell in Ireland. She wrote succinctly, and ended her Letter To The Editor with this question:

Are we not just like turkeys voting for Christmas when we agree to water charges in circumstances where the majority of working people will find a huge drop in their pay as a result of the recent Budget?

In the Financial Times article of November 28, 2010 entitled, “Europe Is Edging Towards The Unthinkable” by journalist, Wolfgang Münchau, the macro-arithmetics of the financial crisis in Europe were of great concern.   The eurozone strategy appeared to be the last bail-out option available, even though there was a small cushion amount between how much had already been spent and how much could be spent. He wrote in part:

Ms Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, were last week putting the final touches to their new bail-in rules, to introduce collective action clauses in sovereign bond contracts. I would not be surprised if at least one member state rejected the Franco-German diktat. For example, I cannot see how Spain or Italy can conceivably support them. To use a seasonal analogy, it would be like turkeys voting for Christmas.

It was on May 7, 2002 that Tobey Walne’s article “Equitable On The Brink” was published by the Daily Mail in London, England. The news story addressed Equitable’s assets and liabilities and the company’s current condition which was thought to possibly be worse than what was being presented. The second to last paragraph read:

Paul Braithwaite, chairman of the Equitable Members’ Action Group, says: ‘Equitable is running on paper-thin liquidity and the writing is on the wall. There are no prospects for it adding to holdings in stocks and shares or bringing back bonuses. For loyal policyholders, it has been like turkeys voting for an early Christmas.’

In 1978, Alistair Michie and English journalist and broadcaster, Simon Hoggart (born 26 May 1946) published a book entitled, “The Pact: The Inside Story of the Lib-Lab Government.” In 1977, James Callaghan (27 March 1912 – 26 March 2005) of the Labor government forged an agreement with the Liberal party led by David Steel to safeguard against a successful motion of no confidence pushing through. The pact was confirmed on September 7, 1978 and the Labor government was able to remain in power until May 1979 when a general election was called. This passage appears in the book:

“Us voting for the Pact is like a turkey voting for Christmas,” said David Penhaligon. But they did agree that Steel should see Callaghan that afternoon.

The person identified as having used the idiom was David Charles Penhaligon (6 June 1944 – 22 December 1986) — a British politician from Cornwall, and a Liberal Member of Parliament for the constituency of Truro. But contrary to what the Oxford Dictionary says, he was not the originator of the expression as the idiom was used in The Alice Glenn Report, Volume 1, Number 3 dated May 1986.  Alice Glenn (17 December 1921 – 16 December 2011) a Fine Gael candidate for Dublin Central in Ireland, was an outspoken person during the 1986 Divorce Referendum in Ireland, and in her leaflet of May 1986 she entitled the front page story, “A Woman Voting For Divorce Is Like A Turkey Voting For Christmas.”

The expression is actually an Irish proverb: A turkey never voted for an early Christmas. Idiomation hasn’t found any resource book disputing that the proverb is, indeed, an Irish proverb, however, a date cannot be affixed to the proverb.

That being said, turkeys were brought from America to England and Ireland by William Strickland in 1526, and it’s believed that King Henry VIII was the first to enjoy roasted turkey. When turkeys were introduced to England and Ireland, families ate goose, boar or peacock at Christmas. By the early 1600s, turkey was found at major Tudor banquets held by those of financial means and power. As the 17th century rolled around, families of means were able to add turkey to the options for Christmas meals. Just as turkey replaced good as the main dish at Christmas, so it replaced it in the proverb which used to be: A goose never voted for an early Christmas.

It would be at this point (one would think) that if geese and turkeys could vote, that they would vote for the other to be served up for Christmas.  It would be unthinkable that they would vote for their own kind to be on the menu.  Likewise, no reasonable person would put themselves in danger and vote to be put in an untenable position.

Idiomation, therefore, pegs the original saying of a turkey  never voted for an early Christmas to the early 1600s, with the variation following afterwards, modified as proverbs often are.

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Hold The Line

Posted by Elyse Bruce on December 13, 2013

Sometimes holding the line has nothing to do with taking a position and defending it. Sometimes it simply has to do with waiting on the phone while an operator or administrative assistant puts you through to another extension. The caller holds the line instead of hanging up.

In the Boston Globe edition of November 26, 1962 the news story by Lloyd Shearer entitled “The President’s Time Of Decision” questions why any man in his right mind would want to become the President of the United States. Found on page 3 in section B6 of the newspaper, it included this line:

He asks Mr. Khrushchev please to hold the line and picks up the SAC phone.

On April 29, 1947, the Evening Independent of St. Petersburg, Florida reported on the telephone company strike and its effect on customers placing long distance calls. The writer — known only as The Rambler — wrote about a long distance call he placed to his daughter in Washington. Setting up the story, he wrote:

He asked the operator here if the call could be put through quickly. She said she would try and told the Rambler to hold the line. He heard her asked [sic] Jacksonville for a line to Washington, then heard the Washington operator answer and get then umber of the telephone in Alexandria. Then he heard the ring of the bell in his daughter’s home and almost immediately, she answered.

The Boston Daily Globe published a serial story under the heading “The Web Of Intrigue” by Coralie Stanton and Heath Hosken back in 1913. Not every story or novel written by Coralie Stanton (1877 – unknown) and Heath Hosken was published in volume form, and many were serialized in various newspapers and magazines, including Munsey’s Magazine. Coralie Stanton was actually Mary Alice Cecil Seymour Keay and Heath Hosken was her husband, journalist and author Ernest Charles Heath Hosken (1875 – 1934) who sometimes went by the pen name, Pierre Costello. Their co-written stories as well as their solo efforts focused on romance and intrigue in exotic locales. The serialized story was described thusly: “The Snares of Clever and Designing Women Appear in High Relief in This Romance, the Plot of Which Centers About a Baffling Murder Mystery.”   It’s in the May 16, 1913 edition that the expression is used, when the question is asked of one of the story’s characters: Hadn’t he better hold the line?

It was in the book, “Regulations for United States Military Telegraph lines: U.S. Signal Corps” prepared under the direction of Brigadier-General James Allen, Chief Signal Officer of the Army in 1909, the following was written:

US Military Signals_Rule 89_1909

Although the U.S. Military rule has to do with the telegraph, in 1908 telephone companies also talked about holding lines — and giving them to others as they saw fit — as seen in this advertisement published in the American Telephone Journal (Volume 18) on page 9.  In fact it states that no subscriber “can hold the line to the detriment of services nor against the Emergency Signal.”  Don’t forget to check out the three-minute rule comment!

American Telephone Journal_Volume 18_1908

During the American Civil War (1861 – 1865) newspaper reporters competed for open telegraph lines and to hold the line while preparing their breaking news dispatches, they would have operator punch out verses from the Bible to their editors back home.

American painter and inventor, Samuel Morse (April 27, 1791 – April 2, 1872) had approached Washington almost two decades earlier with the proposal that he build an experimental 38-mile telegraph line between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland that would follow the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad right-of-way. Congress set aside $30,000 USD in 1843 for that purpose, and the line was unveiled on May 1, 1844. Exactly one year later, the Magnetic Telegraph Company was established, and Samuel Morse patented the telegraph in 1847. In 1851, his telegraph was adopted as the standard for telegraphy in Europe and the United States.

This is important because it shows that holding the line was not possible before Samuel Morse invented the telegraph (which pre-dates the telephone by 25 years). To this end, Idiomation pegs the idiom hold the line as it pertains to communications to the start of the Civil War in 1861.

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Hold The Line

Posted by Elyse Bruce on December 11, 2013

When you hold the line, you make sure you maintain an existing opinion, position, or status regardless of what outside or opposing forces may try to do. Even the military has a mission referred to as a Hold The Line mission.

The Pittsburg Post-Gazette reported on what was going on in Murrysville in their November 20, 2013 edition. It was all about mills and taxes: mills for the general tax rate, mills for capital improvements, mills for municipal debt repayment, mills for road improvements. It seemed that if there was a mill, there was a discussion. The opening paragraph read as follows:

Murrysville council members reviewed recommendations from the administration to hold the line on taxes for the coming year, giving unanimous approval Wednesday night to advertise an ordinance setting the tax rate at 12.15 mills for 2014.

Back on December 1, 1971 the Spokesman-Review reported on President Richard Nixon’s announced intention to veto his own tax cut bill. It seems that what had happened to the President’s bill was that the Senate attached additional provisions to the bill that, if the bill went through, would result in another $11 billion dollars added to the deficit. The story was entitled, “Hold The Line.”

During World War II, what was happening on the front was vigorously reported in the newspapers regardless of what country was reporting on the war. The Calgary Herald edition of October 27, 1941 carried international news that was cabled from the Calgary Herald‘s London bureau courtesy of the London Times. As the Russian campaign continued, battles raged near Rostov-on-Don anda round Kharkov. The Germans hoped to reach Roslov to cut the main railway line from the Caucasus to Moscow. The report included this news byte:

When the Red armies failed to hold the line of the lower Dnieper, German forces, with the aid of Hungarians, Rumanians and Italians were able to undertake a determined eastward drive and Marshal Budenny had no adequate line of defence available until he reached the River Don.

When the New York Times ran an article entitled, “Boxers Engaged In Big Battle” on June 8, 1900 many were alarmed at the events unfolding in China. The article claimed that the Daily Express had sent the following dispatch from Shanghai on June 7 with regards to the results of the Dowager Princess’s orders to General Neih-Si-Chong to take 3,000 men and protest the railroad at Peking. British was unable to send more than 900 troops as they were involved with the situation in South Africa, and the United States was urged to act. The article included this information:

Attempts to repair the damage to the railway between Tien-Twin and Peking have been frustrated by the Boxers who, thousands strong, hold the line against the engineers, gangs attacking the trains arriving.

Another show of force was reported in the American and Commercial Advertiser of August 23, 1864 — thanks to the New York Tribune newspaper — this time with regards to the skirmishes of the Fifth Corps against Rebel forces at Weldon Railroad just below Petersburg. The focus of this mission was to destroy the road completely this time. It was seen as a successful mission no three counts: It resulted in greater losses being inflicted than suffered; it prevented the Rebel forces from sending more troops into the Valley; and Fifth Corps achieved its main objective. The newspaper story reported the following in part:

Exactly one half of all the Rebel forces in Virginia are in the Shenandoah Valley awaiting Heridan. The other half hold the line from Richmond to Petersburg. From Gen. Birney’s Headquarters, the right of the line of operations, to Gen. Warren’s, the extreme left, is a distance of over twenty-five miles by the shortest roads. The whole distance is entrenched and two large rivers straddled. Grant having much the larger army, can afford to stretch the line of operations and thus attenuate Lee’s forces.

Jumping back to 1805, the idiom was used in “The Vindication of Mr. Maurice’s Modern India” also known as “A Vindication of the Modern History of Hindostan From The Gross Misrepresentations, And Illiberal Strictures of the Edinburgh Reviewers” by schoolmaster and former chaplain to the 87th regiment, Thomas Maurice. In his book, he wrote:

It seems however, by the Edinburgh standard of criticism, at least, that an author can no longer be permitted to mark out for himself the outline of any work which he may meditate, or of the limits by which his prudence may lead him to bound, or his temerity to extend his excursion in the wide field of literary research. The Reviewer must hold the line of demarcation, and let the author transgress it at his peril. The direst anathemas of critical vengeance, infallibly attend the slightest deviation.

The word hold is from the Old English word geheald which means keeping, custody, or guard and dates back to 1200, and the word line (as in demarcation) dates back to the middle of the 15th century. That being said, it doesn’t seem that the words met up and became an idiom until later. Although the idiom was used easily in Thomas Maurice’s book, and research hints at the idiom being used in the early 1700s, Idiomation was unable to find an earlier published version than the one in 1805. Taking into account that those who read Thomas Maurice’s book would have understood what he mean when he used the expression hold the line, it is most likely that the idiom hit its stride two generations prior to the publication date, putting it somewhere in the 1750s.

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Snow Cone

Posted by Elyse Bruce on December 4, 2013

When it comes to baseball, a snow cone is used to describe the appearance of a baseball caught in the tip of the webbing of a glove … making it look like a snow cone.   It’s also occasionally referred to as an ice cream cone.

On June 30, 2010, the MLB Advanced Media uploaded a video on their website with a description that read:

Bobby Abreu makes an amazing snowcone catch in right field, somehow hanging onto the ball to retire Michael Young in the first.

On September 8, 1985 the Gainesville Sun newspaper carried New York Times columnist, George Vecsey’s article “Reality And The Baseball Games.” With four days to go before Baseball Thursday happened (when both New York teams would find out their fates and learn who their nearest competitors were), baseball was really under the glass. The article stated in part:

It was some night to be perched in the fetid air of early September in the Bronx, watching Mattingly and then Dan Pasqua hit three-run homers. It was also some night to listen to Bob Murphy, his voice undulating like a calliope, describing Tom Paciorek’s “snow cone” catch to save the game, and, long after midnight, watch, on television, Darryl Strawberry’s radar-guided double beat the Dodgers in the 13th inning.

Now the baseball term snow cone is difficult to trace back, and for that reason Idiomation decided to approach the search from another angle by tracking down when the term snow cone was coined. Going back to 1919 when Samuel Bert was selling snow cones. In 1920, he invented the first snow cone making machine, and introduced at the State Fair that year. Delving further into snow cone history, there were different variations on the theme of where snow cones were first made. Having hit another difficult crossroad, Idiomation decided to come at the idiom from the direction of baseball’s history.

In September 1845, the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club was founded, and a set of rules were codified that were the basis for the modern game of baseball thanks in large part to bank clerk Alexander Joy Cartwright. The rules included details for a diamond-shaped infield, foul lines and the three-strike rule, making it faster-paced and more challenging than its predecessor, cricket. The New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club played its first official baseball game against a team of cricket players in 1846 thereby kicking off this American sports tradition we’ve all come to know and love. Fast forward to 1876, as fielding gloves were introduced to the game, and history says that the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs was formed.

With this information in hand, Idiomation tracked down proof that the first constructed ball park anywhere in the world was Shibe Park (later renamed Connie Mack Stadium in 1953) in Philadelphia which opened on April 12, 1909. The stadium was named after Ben Shibe, an Athletics stockholder and manufacturer of baseball products, and built by William Steele and Sons (the stadium cost $141,918.91 for the land and $315,248.69 for construction). It could hold up to 13,600 spectators!

What we have then is this:  The first ball park constructed was built in 1909.  The first snow cone making machine was marketed in 1920.  And the term snow cone was used in parenthesis in a newspaper sports article in 1985.  In other words, the idiom was recognized by baseball fans and newscasters but not necessarily by everyone who read the newspaper.  For that reason, Idiomation is pegging the expression snow cone as it pertains to a baseball catch to a generation before the newspaper article in 1985 and a generation after the snow cone making machine was invented, putting the date at some time in the 1950s.

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Giving Tuesday

Posted by Elyse Bruce on December 3, 2013

Right after Cyber Monday, there’s a new idiom being shopped around and  it’s called Giving Tuesday.

According to the Los Angeles Times of December 2, 2013 this is the second year that Giving Tuesday has made an appearance. It hasn’t quite caught on yet (in that it’s not a recognized buzz phrase yet) but people are doing their best to give charities a boost with this bit of marketing. The hope is for Giving Tuesday to become as big as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The article stated in part:

Giving Tuesday, which will be held December 3, is a daylong national event designed to help charities raise money online.

In an article in USA Today written by Jon Ostendorff and published on December 1, 2013, the beginnings of Giving Tuesday were explained in this comment:

Giving Tuesday started last year as a charitable answer to the retail shopping days of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday with help from such big names as Sony and Microsoft.

This quickly pegs the idiom Giving Tuesday to November 2012 … no doubt about it!

Posted in Advertising, Idioms from the 21st Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Cyber Monday

Posted by Elyse Bruce on December 2, 2013

After Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, retailers kick off the following week with Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday refers to the sales that can be had exclusively online and while many stores offer online savings on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday is just another one of those clever marketing ideas that seems to have popped up online in recent years.

Before Cyber Monday was successfully marketed, the Monday after Black Friday was the 12th busiest of the year … or in the top 3.5% for most profitable days.

A press release dated December 3, 2012 from PR Newswire Europe stated the following in part:

Cyber Monday is also called “Mega Monday” by some UK retailers. However, “Mega Monday” is a trademarked term of The Hut.com Limited. Cyber Monday is a generic term created by Shop.org in 2005. Today, nearly all U.S. Retailers hold Cyber Monday sales on the Monday following Thanksgiving and Black Friday. The term Cyber Monday is now used internationally by online stores in Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Portugal.

In the St. Petersburg Times newspaper dated November 25, 2006 Times Staff Writer, Mark Albright shared some insights into Cyber Monday in an article entitled, “Cyber Monday Mostly Hype, Experts Say.” In this article’s opening paragraph, he wrote:

Now that Black Friday is history, online retailers are bracing for their own version called Cyber Monday that kicks off in two days. In 2005, it was the busiest day of the year for online retailers, whose sites were jammed with 27.7 million unique site visits, according to Neilsen/Net Ratings.

The title of the article came from this quote in the article:

Cyber Monday is more hype than reality,” Marshal Cohen, analyst for market research firm NPD Group, told the New York Times.

And the term can definitely be pegged to November 2005 with a news article by Robert D. Hof and published in Business Week on November 28, 2005 that begin with this paragraph:

Do a Google search on “Cyber Monday,” and you get as many as 779,000 results. Not a bad haul for a term that was created just a week and a half ago to describe the jump in online shopping activity following the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. While Black Friday is the official kickoff of the traditional retail season, the story goes, online retail really takes off the following Monday.

The article also stated that the term was created during a brainstorming session where other variations were suggested and quickly discarded: Black Monday (too much like Black Friday), Blue Monday (not very cheery), and Green Monday (too environmentalist).

That being said, the idea kicked around for a year before the label Cyber Monday surfaced, according to Shmuel Gniwisch, chief executive of the online jewelry site Ice.com. Shmuel Gniwisch claimed in the Business Week article that in 2004 Shop.org sent an email to member retailers suggesting that online retailers needed to come up with a marketing hook of their own to compete with Black Friday.

Idiomation pegs the idiom to November 2005 with a nod to the year it took to come up with the label that stuck: Cyber Monday.

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