Historically Speaking

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Posts Tagged ‘President Eisenhower’

Teed Off

Posted by Admin on July 29, 2011

It’s easy to see how someone might think the expression “teed off” is directly related to golf.  After all, a tee is a small peg with a concave top for holding a golf ball for its initial drive.  And indeed, when someone strikes a golf ball from a tee when starting a hole, it’s said that the golfer is teed off.

However, “teed off” is also a euphemism for making others angry, disgusted or annoyed for any number of reasons. 

In fact, sometimes the euphemistic use of the phrase can be intertwined with the literal sense of the phrase to make for interesting reading such as what was found in a news article published on August 2, 1993 in the Morning Star-News in Wilmington, North Carolina.  The story, from Honolulu, began with:

A golf course dispute between two foursomes over alleged delays on the tees escalated to gun shots.  No one was wounded.

The title of the news story was, of course, “Teed Off Golfers Fire Gunshots.”

The News-Dispatch newspaper of Jeannette, Pennsylvania published a news article on February 26, 1971 from the UPI feed in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  The article was about famous golfer, Arnold Palmer and was entitled, “Palmer Teed Off After Shooting 3-Over-Par 75.”  The story began with:

Arnold Palmer was in a blue funk.  He was teed off about the golf course and the weather but most of all he was teed off at himself.  Arnie had come here, to the home course of the PGA, to try, at age 41, to add his first PGA Championship to his collection of 56 other professional golf titles.

On October 25, 1956 the Baltimore Sun ran a story on the Queen Mary Ocean Liner and its possible seizure by the U.S. government for having carried 2 1/2 year old Tanya Shwastov to a foreign short.  The story was entitled, “Tanya Poses Liner Threat: Queen Mary Held Possible In Case Of Child” and read in part:

Hennessy explained to the sub-committee that he guessed he was “teed-off — my first reaction was to withhold clearance.”

The St. Petersburg Times edition of March 28, 1953 published a story about Virginia-born Viscountess Lady Astor and Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin.  It touched upon a comment she had made while attending a party given by Senator Robert A. Taft and his wife for the President and Mrs. Eisenhower four days earlier.  One newspaper editor in Wisconsin was so incensed that he suggested Lady Astor be jailed for her comments.  

A few days later, at a luncheon where she spoke before 200 ladies, she vowed she would “never make a joke again” only to break that promise 15 minutes later while cutting the Red Cross Anniversary cake.  The news story was entitled, “Lady Astor Tees Off On McCarthy” and began with:

With a gleam in her eye, Lady Astor described herself as “a dove of peace” yesterday — and then teed off anew on Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy, Republican of Wisconsin.

On October 7, 1952 the Calgary Herald newspaper ran a story about Illinois Governor and Democrat Adlai Stevenson, Republican Ike Eisenhower and a give-day, seven-state campaign swing he had just embarked upon.  The story, entitled, “Stevenson Tees Off On Eisenhower” included this paragraph:

The Democratic presidential candidate teed off on Eisenhower, his Republican opponent, as the general moved through the Pacific Northwest engaged in a long-range verbal duel with President Truman over public power.

With comments like that, it’s easy to see that if someone “teed off” on another, the other person would have good reason to be angry or upset with that person.

So somewhere between 1953 and 1956, the expression “teed off” adopted the euphemistic term.  That being said, the literal sense of the phrase is found in a set of rules for golf that was published by the Edinburgh town council in 1744.  According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the phrase “teed off” used in its literal sense was first published in 1665.

Posted in Idioms from the 17th Century, Idioms from the 20th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pour Salt In An Open Wound

Posted by Admin on December 9, 2010

Whether it’s “pour salt in an open wound” or “rub salt in an open wound” or simply “salt in wound” the meaning is the same.  Whatever has been said or done, hurts as much as having salt applied to a wound in the hopes that it will make everything better eventually.

In May 1965, “A Hurt Mother” wrote to Dear Abby wherein she complained:

I have never been a butting-in mother-in-law, but my sons’ wives never cared much for me.  I’ve never gone to their homes without an invitation, and those invitations were very rare.  But the wives’ families were always in and out.  I wasn’t missed.  My sons slowly turned away from me.  On Mother’s Day I always get expensive gifts with beautiful cards with verses saying what a wonderful mother I am and how much they love me! It is like rubbing salt in the wound.  One son hasn’t been in my home for three years.

Back on September 12, 1957, the Milwaukee Journal carried a somewhat amusing story about President Eisenhower.  It seems that he had taken some time away from his formal duties as President for a round of gold in Newport, Rhode Island.  The news bite entitled “Ike’s Gold Slips, Then He Gets Salt In Wound” relayed that:

President Eisenhower has been playing something less than satisfying golf since he started his vacation at this seaside resort.  He has been shooting two and three strokes over par on an embarrassing number of holes at the Newport Country Club.  And as though his own efforts were not enough, the chief executive underwent a shaking experience the other day.  A man playing in front of him shot a hole in one.  The lucky golfer was Gus Pagel, an electrical designer who plays at the country club on week ends.  Pagel, of course, was delighted to the point of jabbering to every person within range of his voice.   The president made the clubhouse turn and encountered Pagel, who told him in painstaking detail about his wonderful shot.  “I’ve only seen two of those,” the president said seriously.  “Well, sir, I’ve only seen one,” Pagel replied.

In 1949, The Spartanburg Herald carried a column by Robert Ruark.  On March 4 he wrote a piece entitled “Robert Ruark Says Navy and Air Force Carrying On Cold War.”  It was a lengthy piece and near the end of the piece, he wrote:

A lot of Navy feels today that if Mr. Symington fulfills an undeclared but fairly obvious aim to control everything that flies then the big Navy is a defunct duck.  Along these lines the Air Force’s successful public relations coups, such as stealing the Navy’s present show with a dashing feat like the round-the-world nonstop trip, is sheer salt in wound, and regarded as remarkably dirty pool.  The assumption is that a tour de force like the big round-tripper is coldly designed to impress Congress and the public with the fact that you no longer need a special air branch in your sea forces, and that ground-based airpower can win all alone.

The Glasgow Herald published a review of the movie “Sweet Devil” on June 21, 1938 that read in part:

British comedy films in many foreign countries have the reputation (however unjustly) of being close to the custard pie stage.  It would have been much better in this film if the custard pie throwing had been omitted — it was too much like rubbing salt in the wound.  Bobby Howes and Jean Gillie can hardly be expected to rise above such adolescent humour.  Such characters as t hey are supposed to portray never existed, except in Mack Sennett’s earliest efforts.

In the end, though, the phrase “salt in the wound” comes from the days when salt was rubbed into wounds as an antiseptic.   During the earlier centuries, when England was establishing its navy, most sailors were forced into service.  While at sea, punishment was often lashes with a cat’o’nine tails. These whippings would almost always break the skin, and salt was rubbed into the wound to prevent infection.  In this way, “salt in wound” was a very literal, stinging phrase.

And then there are those who will tell you that the early beginnings of the phrase come from the Bible.  Jesus did not tell his disciples, “You are the sugar of the world.” He is credited as saying to them, “You are the salt of the earth.”  Even back then in ancient times, doctors would sprinkle wounds with salt in the hope of fighting off infection. 

Since salt was an antiseptic that performed the negative function of preventing meat from spoiling and the positive function of disinfecting wounds.  The sting of having one’s negative behaviours brought to the forefront by the teachings of the disciples was akin to “salt in wound.”

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Weasel Out

Posted by Admin on September 9, 2010

This is an American colloquialism from the early years of the 1900s.

The Daytona Beach Morning Journal reported on July 27, 1973 that then-Ambassador Daniel P. Moynihan sent a cable to the U.S. State Department threatening to resign.  In part, Mr. Moynihan wrote:

I quite understand that it might appear that we are off our rocker out here, but it comes down to a simple matter of good faith.  The trust account agreement of May 1966 … states that nonexpendable property shall be transferred to the Government of India when no longer required for the support of the U.S. assistance program.  We might have tried to weasel out, but you will need another Ambassador for such work.  The U.S. keeps its word.

Nearly 20 years earlier, on May 19, 1955, The Spokesman Review out of Spokane, WA headlined an article reporting on the dissent within President Eisenhower’s administration with regards to minimum wage proposals.  The headline boldly proclaimed:  “Extending Wage Floor Is Urged: Solon sees Effort to ‘Weasel Out’ of Proposal.”

A decade before that the St. Petersburg Times reported on February 13, 1944 that:

There is no tendency here to even think about any peace that would let Japan weasel out of complete occupation by Allied troops.

The Los Angeles Times published an article on February 16, 1938 entitled “Farmers of Pacific Coast Organize to Defend Rights” where the staff reporter wrote:

Rathburne said the board had tried to “weasel out of a tight situation and to play politics” including Postal employees in the Northwest and in Boston, Kansas City, Indianapolis and Jacksonville from the election.

While there appears to be good reason to believe that the phrase was used in the mid-1920s, since it was used with ease by print journalists in the 30s with the expectation that readers would know what was meant by the phrase .  Still,  the earliest published use of the phrase “weasel out” is from 1938.

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