Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Archive for the ‘Idioms from the 21st Century’ Category

Head-Desking

Posted by Elyse Bruce on January 24, 2017

Pop culture hits again, this time with head-desking which is exactly what you think it is.  Someone faced with a situation that is frustrating and seemingly unsolvable can literally and figuratively lead to head-desking.  To head-desk is to reach a perceived impasse that causes the person to experience a level of frustration that is so intense that one feels it must literally be smacked out of one’s head to relieve the pressure.

NaNoWriMo author Zanzibar 7. Schwarznegger published “Veneri Verbum” through Chizzy Press in 2015 where the word head-desk was used as a verb.  The novel is listed in the humorous science fiction & fantasy category and tells the story of Christopher Cullum and the problems he experiences as a writer.

“I can hear your thoughts here. Third-person narrative, but thoughts are transparent.  Thoughts are pretty much as transparent as glass, clear as a summer day.  Why do you have to have so many terrible sayings in your head?”  She leaned over to head-desk against the wall a few times.

SIDE NOTE 1:  Zanzibar 7. Schwarznegger is the humor/satire writer of the Figment series and The Chronicles of the Bobian, and is said to live in the Pacific Northwest.  Little else seems to be known about the author.

The activity was mentioned by Charles J. Muir (who also has ties to NaNoWriMo) in his 2013 book, “Word Ninja” in the chapter titled, “Smashing Writer’s Block: It’s All About The Tools” which is part of the “Write Life” segment of the book.

Writer’s block.  It’s pernicious.  Its sources are many, as are its manifestations.  It may drive you to head desking, to obsessively playing videogames, to cleaning things that have not seen a dust cloth in decades.  But the defining characteristic is this – you want to write, you try to write, and you can’t.

Now head-desking should not be mistaken for desking (which is also a thing).  In fact, desking was used in the book “The Path That Led To Africa” written by Michael Longford (30 May 1928 – 2005), with a Foreword by Peter Bottomley, and published in 2003.  The word desking appears in Chapter 3 titled, “Westminster In The Country (1939 – 1945).”

On another occasion, I can not remember exactly what offence I had committed, but I was sentenced by the Head of  House to be ‘desked’ for three days.  I do not remember any other boy ever being given this punishment while I was at school.  ‘Desking’ consisted of being made to spend the whole of one’s leisure time at one’s desk.   No one was allowed to speak to the delinquent boy at his desk, and he was not allowed to speak to anyone else, except at mealtimes, and then only to ask his neighbour to pass some item of food which was not within his own reach.  Desking is not a punishment which fills an offender with contrition or a resolve to behave better in future.

SIDE NOTE 2:  The author’s father was Captain Terence Ackley Fitzmaurice Longford and his mother was Dr. Geraldine Nora Longford née Geary who married in 1920.  Michael Longford attended Westminster School and Oxford University, served in the Royal Signals, and joined the Colonial Administrative Service before moving on to being secretary to Lord Twining, Governor in Tanganyika which gained its independence from Britain in 1961.  After his retirement from the British Civil Service, Michael Longford continued to work in various positions including being a member of the UK Committee of UNICEF.

SIDE NOTE 3:  Three years after Tanganyika gained its independence from the British Commonwealth, it found itself embroiled in the Zanzibar Revolution of 1964 which overthrew the Sultan and his primarily Arab government.  Zanzibar merged with Tanganyika and became the nation of Tanzania.  The name was decided on by taking the first three letters of both countries and adding a suffix.

SIDE NOTE 4:  Michael Longford’s wife Jennifer May Longford née Stevenson (4 October 1929 – 5 March 2012) also had an interesting childhood.  Her mother, Frances Stevenson was the mistress of former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) from 1912 (a year after she became governess to his daughter Megan in 1911) until they married in 1943, two years after the death of his first wife Margaret George née Owen (4 November 1864 – 20 January 1941).  Jennifer was 13 years old.

For years, there were rumors that Jennifer was the illegitimate daughter of Lloyd George’s political secretary, Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Tweed (1 January 1890–30 April 1940).  However, when her mother died in 1972, Jennifer discovered a note written by her mother to Lloyd George months before her birth wherein her mother stated she suspected she was pregnant with his child.  Twice, Jennifer Longford considered DNA testing to confirm her father was Lloyd George, however, she never went through with it.   It is generally accepted that Lloyd George was undoubtedly her father.

SIDE NOTE 5:  Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Tweed (1 January 1890–30 April 1940) was awarded the Military Cross in World War I and at the age of 26 was named the youngest lieutenant colonel in the British Army at the time. He became a political adviser to David Lloyd George from 1927 until Tweed’s death.

As interesting as all that is, head-desking appears to be a new expression over the last five years.  Idiomation was unable to find published versions of head-desk or head-desking earlier than 2012.  The repeat NaNoWriMo references and connections found while researching this entry seems to imply it’s because there’s not much more history to track.  We therefore peg this to 2010 to allow time for social media to move the word from obscurity to active verb status.

Advertisements

Posted in Idioms from the 21st Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dutch Reach

Posted by Elyse Bruce on January 10, 2017

Idiomation came across the expression Dutch reach in an article published by CBC Manitoba on January 10, 2017. The article reported that St. Boniface (MB) councilor was promoting the Dutch reach as a way to fight collisions between bicyclists and parked motorists. The article read in part:

Allard has authored a motion asking the city to work with Manitoba Public Insurance to popularize the “Dutch reach,” a manoeuvre intended to ensure people in cars don’t fling open their doors and into the path of oncoming cyclists without warning.

It was a topic of discussion on the Road Bike Review website in September 2016 with some cyclists supporting the concept while others felt it wouldn’t reduce the number of door prizes cyclists get while cycling city streets.

IMPORTANT NOTE 1: A door prize is the colloquial expression for a traffic collision in which a cyclist is struck by a car door.

The practice was mentioned in Martine Power’s article for the Boston Globe on September 22, 2013. The practice was also mentioned in a New York Times article dated July 30, 2011 and written by contributing writer Russell Shorto.

The practice however was not called the Dutch reach in either of those article even though the practice has been the law in the Netherlands for decades.

In 2016, retired American physician Michael Charney named the practice the Dutch reach. After the death of a cyclist in Somerville (MA) in the summer of 2016, Michael Charney, in partnership with the Somerville Police Department, promoted the “Dutch Reach’’ on an electronic sign board that was positioned outside the city’s Veterans Memorial Rink

IMPORTANT NOTE 2: Dr. Michael Charney swapping driving a car for driving a bike in 1992, and has been an ardent cycling advocate in Cambridge (MA) over the years.

This means that the term Dutch reach is about six months old even, and mainstream media and politicians are already making use of the expression in articles about car doors and cyclists. Idiomation therefore pegs Dutch reach to 2016 as attributed to retired American physician Michael Charney.

Posted in Idioms from the 21st Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Dilly Ding, Dilly Dong

Posted by Elyse Bruce on May 26, 2016

Lately you may have read or heard people saying dilly ding, dilly dong.  It’s an interesting idiom that expresses a celebratory feeling while underscoring focus and hard work leading to the celebration.  The history behind this is short and sweet.  It was coined by 64-year-old Claudio Ranieri.

In December 2015, the Italian manager spoke about the Leicester City Football Club (also known as The Foxes) officially qualifying for the EUFA Champions League — a championship that the club went on to win as they nabbed the Premier League title — and he used the term dilly ding, dilly dong.

Claudio Ranieri uttered the idiom dilly ding, dilly dong again in March 2015. and once again, to the delight of mainstream media, at a press conference on April 22, 2016.

Dilly ding, dilly dong! Come on!  You forget.  You forget.  You speak about blah-blah-blah.  But we are in the Champions League. Come on, man! Oh, it’s fantastic. Fantastic. Terrific.

The Foxes were an under-performing football club in 2010 when Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha bought the team.  Claudio Ranieri came on board in the summer of 2015 and led the team to victory months later.

However when he said dilly ding, dilly dong in 2015 and 2016, this wasn’t the first time Claudio Ranieri used the idiom.  Over his 30-year managerial career, dilly ding, dilly dong is a phrase he’s used often.  Originally, it was used as a lighthearted way of seriously underscoring the need for a wake-up call to members of the teams he managed, and it oftentimes led to positive results.

Idiomation adds dilly ding, dilly dong to the list of fun expressions we’ve researched, and we wish it a very long life.

Posted in Idioms from the 20th Century, Idioms from the 21st Century | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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.

Posted in Advertising, Idioms from the 21st Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Brown Thursday

Posted by Elyse Bruce on November 28, 2013

If you’re wondering about Brown Thursday, wonder no longer as it’s the latest idiom hooked into the Black Friday mythos. Brown Thursday is supposedly the shopping day before Black Friday. In other words, Brown Thursday is the day formerly known as American Thanksgiving.

On November 28, 2013, CBS Pittsburgh posted an article to their website entitled, “Brown Thursday Shoppers Line Up To Cash In On Deals.” The article began with this paragraph:

Shoppers looking for bargains set their alarms for 6 a.m. when some stores like Kmart opened for Brown Thursday.

Even CBS television station affiliate, Channel 5 WCSC in Charleston, South Carolina was looking for stories from viewers on their Brown Thursday shopping experiences, On their Facebook page they posted:

Some stores are already open for “Brown Thursday” deals. Are you out shopping, or standing in line for sales?

In the November 22, 2013 edition of USA Today, an article entitled, “The New Black Friday Is Brown Thursday” the new idiom was referred to thusly:

As most have probably heard, more retail outlets are diving into what they hope will be an even bigger money-making trend this year. Instead of opening their doors the Friday after Thanksgiving, they are trying to pull shoppers in even earlier, at 6 a.m. on the holiday. Another growing trend? Calling the holiday Brown Thursday. One comedian said that people who use that phrase should be choked on sight.

Even the Las Vegas Express edition of November 24, 2013 had this to say about the new idiom in an article entitled, “Thanksgiving Now Being Called Brown Thursday By The Media.”

First off, that just sounds disgusting. Who in their right mind will be going around saying “It’s Brown Thursday!”? It sounds like they are excited to go poop. But, the problem is how the media loves to try to make up buzz words to catch on.

But believe it or not, the earliest reference for Brown Thursday was found on Jezebal.com in a blog article written by Jenna Sauers on November 21, 2011  entitled, “Forget Black Friday, This Season It’s All About Brown Thursday” where she wrote:

Sears, which opened on Thanksgiving day in 2010, won’t do so again this year. (“There was a sentiment from customers to keep Thanksgiving as a holiday,” admitted a sheepish-sounding spokesperson.) But the overall trend is still for longer hours, hence why shopping on Thanksgiving, by the way, now has a name: Brown Thursday

It wasn’t just the fodder of blog, however.  It was also written about on the InStyle magazine website (a registered trademark of Time Inc.) in an article published on November 22, 2011 entitled, “Brown Thursday 2011: The New Black Friday?

Just as retailers originally didn’t like the idiom Black Friday, consumers aren’t enamored with the idiom Brown Thursday.  Still the media seems to be pushing this idiom as the replacement name for American Thanksgiving, and so Idiomation pegs this unfortunate idiom to 2011.

Posted in Advertising, Idioms from the 21st Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Horse Collar Tackle

Posted by Elyse Bruce on November 4, 2013

What would football or rugby be without perfect tackles, high tackles, diving tackles, grass cutter tackles, broken tackles, slam tackles, and wing tackles? But one tackle that’s been banned in the last ten years by the National Football League (NFL), the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is the horse collar tackle.

So what exactly is a horse collar tackle? When the defender reaches a hand inside the ball carrier’s collar by their necks from behind and pulls the player down, that’s a horse collar tackle. The dangers associated with this kind of tackle are that it can cause severe injuries to the tackled player’s neck, broken legs and ankles, and tears to ligaments in the knees and ankles.

The rule instituted in 2005 that forbids the use of the horse collar tackle was euphemistically referred to as the “Roy Williams Rule” due in large part to the fact that the 2004 NFL season saw 6 major injuries thanks to horse collar tackles. Four of those six major injuries were a result of Roy Williams’ horse collar tackles. On May 23, 2005 and as reported in a number of newspapers including the May 25, 2005 edition of the Lewiston Tribune, owners of NFL teams voted 27 to 5 to ban the tackle. The 5 times that didn’t want it banned were the Dallas Cowboys (the team with Roy Williams), the Detroit Lions, the New England Patriots, the New Orleans Saints, and the San Francisco 49ers. In the Lewiston Tribune the Associated Press story entitled, “Owners Prohibit Horse Collar Tackle” the article stated in part:

The owners’ only definitive action was the 27-5 vote to ban the horse collar tackle, in which a defender grabs the back inside of an opponent’s shoulder pads and yanks the player down. Dallas safety Roy Williams does the tackle as well as anybody, but he seriously injured All-Pro received Terell Owens of Philadelphia with the maneuver last season.

On August 28, 2013 Jaimie Uribe of Fort Lauderdale, under the headline “Around The League” posted this to his Google Plus account:

Can’t hit high, cant hit low, cant hit from the blindside, cant hit with unnecessary force, cant grab from the horse collar, can’t grab from the facemask, cant hit with the arm, helmet, or shoulder, oh yeah, and can’t trip someone either as that is just too rough. Is the NFL one rule away from jumping the shark?

Now the game of football (more or less as we know it) in America has been around since 1889 and the rules have evolved ever since. In 1974, there were serious changes in the rules to add action, color and tempo to the games. Four years later, more rule changes were made, this time permitting a defender to maintain contact with a receiver within five yards of scrimmage. Restricted contact was allowed after that point.

But nowhere in all the research done was Idiomation able to identify when horse collar tackle was first used.  Idiomation’s best guess is that it was some time after 1978 and before 2000. If readers or visitors have additional links they can provide to help pin point the origin of the expression, please post them in the Comments section below.

Posted in Football, Idioms from the 21st Century, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Brick And Click

Posted by Elyse Bruce on April 15, 2013

With the clear separation between online shopping and brick-and-mortar store shopping, it wasn’t long before the expression brick and click was heard more and more in business conversations. Offline (brick) shopping and online (click) shopping meant that corporations and entrepreneurs had to pay attention to the way they marketed their brand to their customers, since those who preferred brick shopping appeared to have a different mindset than those who preferred click shopping.

Now, not every business is click-friendly just like not every business is brick-friendly. When reporter Randall Stross wrote his news story “Why Bricks And Clicks Don’t Always Mix” for the September 18, 2010 edition of the New York Times, he wrote in part:

Blockbuster’s experience shows that executing a bricks-and-clicks strategy entails a high degree of difficulty, managing not just two very different kinds of businesses, with dissimilar domains of expertise, but also a third challenge: integrating two separate systems. An online-only service can remain a best-in-class operation because its executives focus, focus, focus on just the online business.

This was clear back in July 2001 when the eCommerce Times online magazine edition of July 7, 2001 published their story entitled, “Brick-and-Click Does Not Mean Overnight Success.” Of special interest in the article was mention that not every brick-and-mortar store should become a brick-and-click store as evidenced by this tidbit:

While Federated is only going to narrow its offerings and eliminate less popular categories on Macys.com, the company is shutting down the e-commerce aspects of its Bloomingdales.com operation. From now on, Bloomingdales.com will be nothing more than an informational and marketing site for the company’s brick-and-mortar department stores.

Now Chris Lester, Assistant Managing Editor for the Kansas City Star newspaper reported on February 1, 2000 reported on the struggle to create a term for shopping online. The article, entitled, “Not Brick, But Click And Mortar” it was clear that no one was sure what the expression would be. The article began with this insight:

Here’s a new equation for retail and real estate at the dawn of the Internet epoch.

Brick and mortar + click and order = click and mortar.

That’s the hopeful word coming from retailers, vendors, brokers and developers who gathered last week at the Ritz-Carlton for a day of brainstorming sponsored by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Sometime between February 2000 and July 2001, all that was worked out and the accepted term for stores that had both offline and online shopping for customers became known as brick and click.

Posted in Idioms from the 21st Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fuzzy Math

Posted by Elyse Bruce on February 27, 2013

When you read or hear about fuzzy math, what’s being suggested is that the arithmetic doesn’t add up. It’s a phrase that’s oftentimes used to dispute government programs and taxes.

Paul Krugman wrote about fuzzy math in his book, “Fuzzy Math: The Essential Guide To The Bush Tax Plan” published in 2001, and the phrase has appeared in a number of newspaper headlines over the past decade.

On July 3, 2010 the Boston Globe published a Letter To The Editor written by J. Whitfield Larrabee of Brookline, that addressed the subject of the risks of using painkiller medication. The article was entitled, “Fuzzy Math Used To Help Make Case” and the first sentence read:

Even though I am just a lawyer and not a mathematician, it seems to me that biotech entrepreneur Christoph Westphal used some fuzzy math in his recent op-ed, “The Myth Of The Perfect Drug,” June 28.

The L.A. Times opinion staff (yes, that’s the actual designation) provided an OpEd piece on June 22, 2007 that discussed fuzzy math and the court system. It compared how the New York Times viewed the court decision arrived at with regards to challenging a sentence that fell within the guidelines issued by the United States Sentencing Commission, and how the L.A. Times editorial board viewed the court decision. The editorial was aptly entitled:

Fuzzy Math At The Supreme Court

In an Editorial published in the Providence Journal on June 3, 2000 entitled, “Beware Fuzzy Math” the dangers the latest math (newer than new math) were discussed. The Editorial began with this commentary:

In recent years, elementary schools across the nation have increasingly adopted a newer version of the “new” math that was such a widespread disaster in the 1960s. The latest fad is called the “constructivist” method. Critics, both enraged parents and troubled mathematicians, refer to it, sardonically, as “fuzzy math. According to a long report in The New York Times (April 27), they have begun rebelling against it. May their tribe increase.

Safire’s Political Dictionary by William Safire states that the expression was promoted by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 1989. Whole math (as it was known) no longer required students to memorize those math functions that could easily be handled by a calculator (for example, multiplication) and focused on discussions of word problems instead. When parents proved to educators and administrators that students were oftentimes unable to perform the basics of adding and subtracting, the Council moved away from the approach.

But no one popularized the expression more than George W. Bush when he took on Vice-President Al Gore in Boston back in 2000. So while the expression actually came about in 1989, this one has to go to George W. Bush in 2000 for making it part of the lexicon.

Posted in Idioms from the 21st Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

My Pears Are Poaching

Posted by Elyse Bruce on May 13, 2011

When someone says their “pears are poaching” they mean that something they have said or done in the past is sneaking up on its intended goal for the sole purpose of overtaking the goal and making an example of the goal by way of using the goal’s own claims or words in such a way as to make overtaking the goal all the sweeter!

The phrase was originally posted by Danielle Carey Corley on her Facebook page on May 9, 2011.  She was actually poaching pears at the time however Elyse Bruce thought the phrase sounded very much like some of the popular idioms people are apt to use in polite discussions.

After much thought, a proper definition for “my pears are poaching” was arrived at on May 12, 2011 and was included in the list of idioms at Idiomation the following morning.

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