Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Posts Tagged ‘never cast a clout until May is out’

Thanking Those Who Visit Idiomation

Posted by Admin 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

Posted in News | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WordPress Reviews Idiomation’s First Year

Posted by Admin on January 2, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010 — Idiomation‘s first year in existence — and here’s a summary of this site’s overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter reads This blog is doing awesome!

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747 400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,900 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

Started on January 20th, there were 219 new posts; not bad for the first year!

The most popular post was She’s A Pip.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, en.wordpress.com, en.search.wordpress.com, twitter.com, and alphainventions.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for never cast a clout till may is out, she’s a pip, absence makes the heart grow fonder shakespeare, never cast a clout, and wewoka switch.

Attractions in 2010

Thanks to WordPress and our readers for supporting the Idiomation blog site.  And to end off this blog entry, here are the top 5 posts and pages of 2010!

1

She’s A Pip July 2010

2

Never Cast A Clout Until May Is Out March 2010

3

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder March 2010

4

Friends of Idiomation March 2010

5

I Brook No Truck With You July 2010

Posted in News | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Never Cast A Clout Until May Is Out

Posted by Admin on March 30, 2010

Ne’er cast a clout till May be out is an English saying with a long and difficult history.  In 1855, F. K. Robertson’s Whitby Gazette published the following rhyme:

The wind at North and East
Was never good for man nor beast
So never think to cast a clout
Until the month of May be out
.

The earliest published version of the rhyme can be found in Dr. Thomas Fuller’s  “Gnomologia” published in 1732. 

Since at least the early 15th century ‘clout’ has been used to mean a fragment of cloth or clothing and was spelled as clowt, clowte, cloot, or clute.   It’s here that the saying took on two meanings rather than just the original.  The new meaning was a reminder not to be too quick to shuck the warmer winter clothes before cooler days during the month of May were most likely over.

That being said, English farm-workers working the fields in their winter clothes throughout the month of May could suffer from heat exhaustion if they kept all their winter layers on until the end of May!   The flowering of the hawthorne (May) tree was a more reliable guide to the state of the weather.

This means that the original meaning goes back even further than the 15th century and indeed, it can be traced back to the 12th century.  During Medieval times in Brittany, a man proposed to his beloved by leaving a hawthorne (also known as a Mayflower) branch at the door of his beloved on the first of May. By leaving the branch at the door she accepted his proposal.

Traditionally, it was taboo to bring hawthorne into the house in Medieval England because it was feared it would bring death with it.  This is because the hawthorne blossom has a distinctive fragrance and in medieval times, the blossom was said to carry the ‘stench of death’.  (This is due to the trimethylene that the flowers give off as they deteriorate.) 

The exception to that rule was during May-Day celebrations (for one day only) when it was permitted to bring flowers into the house for decoration.  No marriages were allowed during the month of May and it was considered unlucky to marry in the hawthorne month since most people during Medieval times rarely bathed, June was usually one of the months in which most people had baths.  The exception to the rule, of course, would be those who lived in castles. 

It would make sense for the general population to keep at least some (but not all) of their winter clothes on until they could bathe and be fresh for any wedding celebrations coming up during the month of June.  This is verified by another English saying:  “Marry in May and you’ll rue the day.”  What’s more, washing in May was not a favoured activity as evidenced by yet another English saying:  “Wash a blanket in May; wash a dear one away.”

Posted in Idioms from the 12th Century, Idioms from the 15th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »