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Archive for the ‘Idioms from the 4th Century’ Category

Falling Asleep

Posted by Admin on August 16, 2010

From a scientific point of view, sleep happens in stages:  drowsiness (where you’re still aware of your surroundings); disassociation (where hypnagogic visions occur); and dream-consciousness (where the individual is in a state of self-consciousness but with every day parameters altered per the dreamer).  Falling asleep is not unlike a windmill turning, where the contents spin in the person’s consciousness while the person sleeps.

According to the America Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, the literal usage, which uses the verb fall  in the sense of “succumb,” dates from to the 14th century.  However, in the Annals of Ulster covering 431 through to 1540, it documents the falling asleep of the son of the Carpenter, Ciaran, in the 34th year of his age, or in the 7th year after he had commenced to build Clonmacnoise, Tigernach of Cluain-eois died.

From this, it is understood that falling meant passing suddenly from one state to another as in going from being awake to being asleep or being dead.

On August 15 of every year — and dating back to the 4th century — the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches (the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church joined in this celebration in later centuries) celebrate the Falling Asleep of the Virgin Mary.  So the phrase “falling asleep” dates back at least to the 4th century and possibly reaches back even further.

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His Name Is Mud

Posted by Admin on April 30, 2010

When John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln dead in 1865, he broke his leg trying to escape.  Booth sought — and received–  medical attention from a Dr. Samuel Mudd.  Now even though Mudd was convicted of being Booth’s co-conspirator in Abraham Lincoln’s death, and while it would be easy to conclude that the phrase came about as a result of this historic event, the fact of the matter is that the phrase “his name is mud” was already in use four decades before Lincoln was assassinated. 

Writing under the pen name John Bee, John Badcock’s book “Slang – A Dictionary of the Turf” published in 1823 stated:

“And his name is mud!” ejaculated upon the conclusion of a silly oration, or of a leader in the Courier.

What’s more, the “Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English” also referenced the phrase in its 1820 edition and stated that the phrase indicated an individual who was “utterly disgraced or defeated.”

However, an even earlier published record, the phrase can be found in the book by Tuus Inimicus entitled “Hell upon earth: or the most pleasant and delectable history of Whittington’s Colledge.”   This book was first published in 1703.

The phrase, however, goes back even farther to St. Gregory of Nyssa (335-390) — an unopposed advocate, along with Didymus and Diodorus of Tarsus, of universal redemption — who wrote in his “Sermo Catecheticus Magnus” that “man is mud whom God has commanded to become God.”

Posted in Christian, Idioms from the 18th Century, Idioms from the 19th Century, Idioms from the 4th Century, Religious References | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »