Historically Speaking

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Posts Tagged ‘Ann Landers’

Hair of the Dog

Posted by Admin on September 11, 2021

You may have heard someone say the morning after a night of heavy drinking that they need some hair of the dog to help them deal with their hangover and other physical symptoms of having overindulged in alcohol. They usually mean they need another shot of alcohol to help them cope with the symptoms of having a hangover. It doesn’t work, and yet, it’s been a long-touted remedy. How long?

On 18 March 2006, Robert Riley’s “On The Street” column in the Lawrence Journal-World newspaper asked people how they took care of a hangover. The first answer was from Tyler Hehn, a Junior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lincoln (NB) who responded: “I’ve got to go with the hair of the dog that bit you, but a little Gatorade or water to rehydrate never hurt.”

It’s a phrase many have heard for years, and even Ann Landers used the expression in her column of 9 September 1983 that was carried by the Southeast Missourian where a reader congratulated Ann Landers on her list of the characteristics of a compulsive gambler. The writer shared his or her list entitled, “Alcoholic: How Can You Tell?”

The third question on the list was: In the morning, do you crave a “hair of the dog that bit you?”

Perhaps one of the most descriptive commentaries using the idiom is from the Wilmington (DE) Sunday Morning Star of 27 September 1936 in the “Local Color: The Week’s Odds and Ends” by Charles M. Hackett (1909 – 29 September 1970).

One of the better-known grog shops was having trouble this week. It was just beginning to blossom with the lads and lassies trying the hair of the dog for excessive hangover trouble when, outside, a pneumatic concrete breaker went into action. The anguished faces inside told the story of heads rent with clatter.

A few decades earlier, in The Pittsburgh Gazette of 11 April 1902 shared a quick commentary between news of the availability of lecture tickets in support of the Stone ransom fund and what the newspaper reported as a ‘pernicious pest’ who was setting off false alarms. It read as follows:

The governors of the Carolinas were together at Charleston Wednesday in honor of the president but the recording angels of the daily papers are silent as to whether any hair of the dog was in demand yesterday.

The complete idiom is actually the hair of the dog will cure the bite, but over time, it has been whittled down to just the first half of that claim with the second half implied. The expression comes from the ancient notion that the hair of a dog is an antidote to its bite.

As the saying went, similia similibus curantur, or like is cured by like. In many respects, it seems to be the theory that drives homeopathy.

On page 92 of Volume 15 of The New Sporting Magazine published in 1838, the magazine identified this idiom as a proverb.

The proverb “Take a hair of the dog that bit you” recommending a morning draught to cure an evening’s debauch, is derived from the prescription which recommended as a cure for the bit of a dog, that some of his hairs should be bound over the wound.

That same year, in the book “Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland” compiled by Irish author and antiquary Thomas Crofton Croker (15 January 1798 – 8 August 1854), one of the stories recounted how two men who had overindulged in poteen awoke the next morning with hangovers.

Back they both went most lovingly to the house, and Jack wakened up Coomara; and perceiving the old fellow to be rather dull, he bid him not be cast down, for ’twas many a good man’s case; said it all came of his not being used to the poteen, and recommended him, by way of cure, to swallow a hair of the dog that bit him.

The second edition was printed in 1838 and in the publisher’s preface to the new edition, it was stated that the book had been out of print for a number of years. Research indicates the first part was published in 1825, and the next two parts were published in 1828.

Two centuries earlier, Randle Cotgrave (unknown – 1634) mentioned the hair of the dog as a cure for hangovers in his book “A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues” published in 1611.

In drunkennes to fall a quaffing, thereby to recouer health, or sobrietie; neere vnto which sence our Ale-knights often vse this phrase, and say, Giue vs a haire of the dog that last bit vs.

INTERESTING SIDE NOTE 1: Randle Cotgrave was possibly the son of William Cotgreve of Christleton in Cheshire. It is certain that Randle Cotgrave belong to Cheshire, and that he was a scholar at St. John’s College in Cambridge on the Lady Margaret foundation on 10 November 1587. Later, he became secretary to William Cecil, Lord Burghley, eldest son of Thomas Cecil, First Earl of Exeter. Subsequently, he became the registrar to the Bishop of Chester. He married Ellinor Taylor of Chester, and had four sons: William, Randolf, Robert, and Alexander. He also had a daughter named Mary.

INTERESTING SIDE NOTE 2: A copy of Randle Cotgrave’s book was presented to Prince Henry, eldest son of James 1, and in return, Randle Cotgrave received from Prince Henry ten pounds as a gift, not as payment. This Randle Cotgrave’s death was given in Cooper’s “Memorials of Cambridge” as 1634.

John Heywood included the phrase in a drinking reference in his book, “A Dialogue Conteinyng the Nomber in Effect of All the Proverbes in the Englishe Tongue” published in 1546.

I praie the leat me and my felowe haue
A heare of the dog that bote vs last nyght.
And bytten were we both to the brayne aryght.
We sawe eche other drunke in the good ale glas.

A more recognizable translation is this:

I pray thee let me and my fellow have
A
hair of the dog that bit us last night
And bitten were we both drunk.
We saw each other drunk in the good ale glass.

Yes, back in John Heywood’s day, if you were bitten to the brain, it was another way of saying you were drunk.

At the end of the day, since the idiom was known and used in 1546, it’s safe to say it was a common expression of the day, and while the first published reference Idiomation could find for this idiom is 1546, it was already a well-known expression among those looking to get over a hangover.

Posted in Idioms from the 16th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dumb Cluck

Posted by Admin on March 23, 2012

A dumb cluck is, well, a dull-witted, stupid person … a blockhead … a dolt.  Some will tell you it’s a corruption of the Yiddish word klutz which means blockhead, and others will tell you it’s a corruption of the German word dummkopf which also means blockhead.  Still others will tell you it has to do with how smart a chicken really is.

On March 12, 2012 the Miami Herald ran a story entitled “Local Sports Franchises Take The Prize.”  The journalist, Glenn Garvin, wrote in part:

Marlins President David Samson, thinking he was safely in the company of his fellow robber-baron plutocrats at the Beacon Council, delivered a smirking speech in which he bragged about how easily he snookered $315 million or so out of our dumb-cluck local politicians. And he doesn’t want to hear any complaints out of you, buddy. The purpose of local government is to extract your money to pump up his bottom line.

Back in February of 1991, Max Baer Jr won a $2-million award Wednesday against ABC.  He claimed that ABC had prevented him from getting the film rights to Madonna’s song “Like A Virgin” which he had hoped would form the basis of a movie he wanted to produce.  On February 21, 1991 the Herald Journal in Spartanburg, South Carolina reported:

Baer — best known for his role in the 1960s TV series — has filed a multimillion dollar suit in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming that ABC-TV tried to take advantage of Jethro’s “big, dumb cluck” image in a 1986 dispute over film rights to the hit song.

The Ann Landers column published in the Spokane Daily Chronicle on April 9, 1962 ran a letter from a writer named, Dutch Uncle.   The problem was that the businessman had hired the daughter of a friend to work for him in a secretarial position.  At first, it appeared that the biggest problem was her inability to spell, but there was more to the story as Dutch Uncle added:

Linda is a nice person and tried hard, but in addition to her lack of skills she arrives late (from 20 to 30 minutes) about three days every week.  Her absentee record is the worst in the office.  She has not worked a single Monday in nine weeks. I pay this dumb cluck $310 a month.  What can I do in view of the close relationship?

The Hartford Courant published a report by Grantland Race on March 26, 1941 entitled, “Fighter Who Beats Louis Will Have To Be Smart.”  The subtitle read:

‘No Dumb Cluck Is Going To Have Much Of A Chance,’ Says Jack Kearns In Discussing Current Crop Of Heavyweight Challengers

On December 20, 1937 an animated short was released.  The name of the short?  Why it was “The Dumb Cluck” produced by Walter Lantz (27 April 1899 – 22 March 1994), the man who brought us Chilly Willy and Woody Woodpecker.  The character of the Dumb Cluck first appeared two months earlier on October 18, 1937 in the animated short “The Keeper of the Lions.”  The Dumb Cluck was the creation of writer Charles R. Bowers (June 7, 1877 – November 26, 1946).

And let’s not forget the Three Stooges who filmed “Three Dumb Clucks” that same year!  In this movie, the Stooges are in jail when they learn that their father, Popsie-Wopsie is about to marry a gold-digger named Daisy.  Of course, they have to get out of jail and save Popsie-Wopsie and get him back home to the loving arms of Momma.

Pulp fiction writer and Iowan, Dwight V. Babcock (1909 – 1979) published a story in 1934 entitled, “Dumb Cluck.”  Like his contemporary, Raymond Chandler, Dwight V. Babcock was known for writing longer stories and reworking each story until it was a good as it could possibly be.  That 1934 story is one of those stories.

Writer Joseph Patrick McEvoy (1895 – 1958) — he eventually became a roving editor for Reader’s Digest — wrote “Denny and the Dumb Cluck” which was published by Simon and Schuster in 1930.  It told the story of a salesman with the Gleason Card Company named Denny Kerrigan and Chicago shop girl, Doris Miller — the dumb cluck of the title.  If you’re interested in knowing more about the novel, it was reviewed in Book Review Digest on page 658 in 1930.

Author Edmund Wilson only wrote three novels in his lifetime, one of which was entitled, “I Thought of Daisy” which was published in 1929.  A colleague of both Scott Fitzgerald and John Dos Passos, Edmund Wilson‘s book was a realistic depiction of the 1920s.  The expression dumb cluck is found in this passage in the book:  

The door into the dining room opened, and Larry Mickler and Daisy appeared.

“Come on, yuh dope!” said Daisy to Pete Bird.  “What d’ye think yuh are, brooding around the kitchen?  — a cockroach?” 

“Get away, yuh dumb cluck!” replied Pete, relunctantly opening his eyes, “and leave me to my meditations!”

“Let’s leave him to his slumbers,” said Larry Mickler, who was evidently drunker than ever.  “The boyfriend’s passed out!  Too many of those rich liverwurst sandwiches!”

This American slang doesn’t seem to appear before 1929 however for the expression to be used so freely in Edmund Wilson‘s book, it had to be part of the vernacular and with that, Idiomation is willing to guess that it likely dates back to about 1920.

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Dutch Treat

Posted by Admin on August 29, 2011

A Dutch treat, also known as going Dutch or a Dutch date, refers to an outing where everyone involved pays his or her own expenses.

Just three days ago, the Leesville Daily Leader newspaper in Louisiana published a story about the local Chamber of Commerce’s newest developments in the community entitled, “Fort Polk Progress Seeks To Predict Region’s Destiny.”  More than 44 area business leaders were in attendance at the meeting which took place over the lunch hour.  A photo accompanied the news article with the following description included:

The Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce conducted its general membership meeting for August at Catfish Junction Wednesday during a dutch treat luncheon. Speaker for the event was Mike Reese, of Fort Polk Progress.

On October 16, 1974 the St. Petersburg Times ran the Ann Landers column aptly titled that day as, “Husband’s Dutch Treat Lunches Worry Her.”  A woman in her 60s, married to her husband for 36 years, was worried about the latest work arrangement at her husband’s new job.  The distraught wife wrote in part:

He has been going to lunch nearly every day with his secretary, who is in her 30s.  He told me about it himself, making a big deal out of the fact that they go Dutch.

The Day newspaper published an interesting human interest story on November 14, 1931 that reported that a group of University of California co-ed students announced to the media they were in favour of splitting the cost of a “date” between a man and a woman provided the man met their standards of the perfect date. 

A date was rated as follows:  20% for intelligence, 20% for personality, 15% for cultural and social background, 15% for personal appearance, 10% each for courtesy and for dance ability, and 5% each for physical fitness and for social poise.  However, the catch was that if such a man existed, he wouldn’t allow the woman to go Dutch; he’d pay for the date.  The news story was entitled:

College Girls Describe Perfect Male Escort For ‘Dutch Treat’

On July 21, 1893 the Morning Herald of Baltimore, Maryland published a news story that set tongues wagging.  It told the story of the exploits of 13 Newport women who set society talking by engaging in a unique feast.  In fact, what they did was so unheard of that they made the idea fashionable.  Yes, they had a “very jolly dinner without the men and boldly braved superstition” by actually having what the newspaper headline announced was a “Ladies’ Dutch Dinner.”  The story reported in part:

In the private dining-room, trimmed and decorated with yellow striped silk, the women referred to decided to have their “Dutch treat” or, in other words, each lady was to pay her own expenses, little realizing that they were setting the seal of their approval on a custom which needed it.  Had this custom been inaugurated before Newport would have been benefited in a substantial manner, and many families would not have ceased their social functions as summarily as they did.

The term, according to the The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, dates back to 1870.  Idiomation is willing to concede that this is most likely the correct year for the expression since the 1893 article states “the seal of their approval on a custom which needed it.”  It was a known social convention that hadn’t been given a place in society until people such as those delightful 13 Newport women brought society up to speed on the option.

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

Chill Out

Posted by Admin on June 14, 2011

Chill, chill out, chellaxin’ … they all mean the same thing: to calm down and relax. And who doesn’t like to chill out? It’s such a cool term, that there’s a category of electronic music known for its mellow style and mid-tempo beats that’s been around since the early 1990s known as chill out music. And yes, chill out music is part of what dance clubs refer to as “smooth electronica” and “soft techno.”

The Mirror newspaper in London, England ran an article on August 20, 2005 entitled, “Your Life: Guide To Taking A Year Out.” It dealt with those people who take a year off between going to school and moving on to the next phase of their lives by travelling abroad.

India is cheap, thought not always cheerful. However, after the seething humanity of Mumbai, Delhi and Calcutta, you can chill out on the golden beaches of Goa.

Back on October 20, 1992 the Deseret News of Salt Lake City, Utah published an article entitled, “Memo to America, Canada: Chill Out.” It began with this comment:

I just made it through Canadian customs. This flag thing had me worried. This was no time to be an accidental tourist, stumbling off an airplane in Toronto. Before World Series Game 2, a Marine — apparently from the Atlanta barracks of “F Troop” — hung the Canadian flag upside down, creating an international incident.

The expression chill out first appeared on the scene in 1983 as a variation of the former expression which was simply, chill.

Back in 1979, the popular hip hop group Sugarhill Gang reworked Ecclesiastes into their hit song “Rapper’s Delight” resulting in this:

now there’s a time to laugh a time to cry
a time to live and a time to die
a time to break and a time to chill
to act civilized or act real ill
but whatever ya do in your lifetime
ya never let a mc steal your rhyme

And Ann Landers, in the March 25, 1972 edition of the Calgary Herald, heard from an unhappy “southern lady” who wrote in part:

My question is, should a wife be concerned about such a mutual admiration society? Should I chill the relationship? Or should I relax and not worry?

Oddly enough, the expression “chill out” and its earlier variant, “chill” don’t appear to go back past the 1970s and Idiomation was unable to find an published version that pre-dates the 1972 version cited. However, that it would appear so easily in a letter to Ann Landers indicates that the use of “chill” meaning to calm down and relax was part of every day language by 1972 means it most likely dates back to the late 1960s.

Posted in Idioms from the 20th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »