Historically Speaking

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Posts Tagged ‘USA Today’

Giving Tuesday

Posted by Admin 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 »

Brown Thursday

Posted by Admin 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 »

Right As Rain

Posted by Admin on August 28, 2013

An online friend was wondering what the expression right as rain really means and how it wound up being part of the English language. To answer her question, when something is right as rain everything is functioning optimally … perfectly, in fact.

USA Today sometimes has the most unexpected articles, and the one about Portland, Oregon on March 29, 2010 certainly surprised a number of readers. Portland’s storm sewer system, it was reported, was a tourist attraction for eco-friendly tourists interested in checking out Portland’s system of curbs, gutters, roofs and rain gardens. Who knew? Of course, the article was aptly entitled, “Portland’s Sewers Right As Rain.”

Back on July 17, 1952 the Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper reported on how the Russian government in Moscow was unhappy about the upcoming conference in Honolulu that intended to set up a permanent Pacific defense council. The Russians were said to be against the prospect of such a defense council. In fact, the situation was such a hot button for both sides that the reporter wrote in part:

The Reds suspect that a treaty organization designed to prevent the spread of Communism in the Pacific world, similar to the existing North Atlantic Treaty Organization already service the same purpose in Europe, will come out at the Honolulu conference in August, and they are right as rain about that.

The Saskatoon Phoenix newspaper edition of July 3, 1915 carried a news article entitled, “Tommy Is An Optimist.” Written by a special correspondent with British Headquarters in the Field during WWI, the journalist rose above the horrors of war to include the personal side of global conflict. It’s not that he didn’t acknowledge that war was ugly business and that everyone suffered because of it, but rather, he chose to give insight into the humanity that still existed among soldiers. The article included an anecdote that happened between the chaplain and one of the soldiers brought in on a stretcher to be treated by doctors.

“Would you like to send your people a postcard, my boy?” said the Chaplain, and went on to the next stretcher. “Does — does this mean that I am going to die?” asked the lad, as he tried to scrawl a name across the front of the card.

“Nonsense,” retorted an orderly who was passing. “You’ll be as right as rain in a week.”

“Then I’ll wait before I write,” said the soldier. “There’s no use wasting the card. Besides, it says ‘I am wounded.’ I am not wounded — I’m full of this bloody gas, and as soon as me chest is clear I’m going back to ‘do’ for some of those Germans. Give us a drink!”

Some sources claim that the expression was first published in 1894 however Idiomation found a published version in a Boston Daily Globe newspaper dated March 21, 1893 in a serialized story entitled, “Fated To Suffer: The Mystery of the Blood Red Star.”  While Idiomation was unable to find an earlier publication of the phrase, that it is found in a newspaper dating back to 1893 indicates that it was already in use among the masses and as such, it can be assumed that it most likely dates back to at least 1880.

That being said, the qualifier right as has been used in a number of idioms before this date. Some of the alternatives include:

1.  Right as an adamant from “Romance Of The Rose” translated by Geoffrey Chaucer (1300 – 25 October 1400) from the poem by Guillaume de Lorris (1200 – 1240):

For by ensample tel I this,
Right as an adamant, ywis,
Can drawen to hym subtelly
The yron that is layde therby,
So draweth folkes hertes, iwys,
Syluer and golde that yeuen is.

2.  Right as a line from “Minor Poems” by John Lydgate (1370 – 1451) and published in 1430:

That heuenly spyce, hit is ful swete;
Help us perof, good bysshop Fermyae,
Sacred Cipriane, zif hit wold be gete,
With Cosme and Damane wold I dyne,
Lede us pederward as ryght as a lyne,
Seynt Myghel, to pat heuenly kyngdome
Helpyng the holy doctour Seynt Ierome.

3.  Right as is my leg from the translation by Sir Thomas Urquhart (1611 – 1660) of “Gargantua and Pantagruel” originally written by François Rabelais (1490 – 1553) and published in 1653:

I saw another surrounded by a Croud of two sorts of Women; some were young, quaint, clever, neat, pretty, juicy, tight, brisk, buxom, proper, kind-hearted, and as right as my Leg, to any man’s thinking. The rest were old, weather-beaten, over-ridden, toothless, blear-ey’d, tough, wrinkled, shrivell’d, tawny, mouldy, ptysicky, decrepit hags, beldams, and walking Carcasses.

4.  Right as my leg from “The Comical History of Don Quixote: As It Was Acted At The Queen’s Theater In Dorset Garden By Their Majesties Servants” in Part III, Act III Scene ii by Thomas D’Urfey (1653 – 26 February 1723) and published in 1696:

Jolly Ralph was in with Pegg,
Tho freckled like a Turkey-Egg;
And she as right as is my leg,
Still gave him leave to touse her.

5.  Right as my glove from “Antiquary” by Sir Walter Scott (15 August 1771 – 21 September 1832) and published in 1816:

“Right, Caxon! right as my glove! By the by, I fancy that phrase comes from the custom of pledging a glove as the signal of irregragable faith — right, I saw, as my glove, Caxon — bet we of the Protestant ascendancy have the more merit in doing that duty for nothing, which cost money in the reign of that empress of superstition, whome Spenser, Caxon, terms, in his allegorical phrase.”

6.  Right as ninepence from “Frank Fairlegh: Scenes From The Life Of A Private Pupil” by Francis Edward Smedley (4 October 1818 – 1 May 1864) and published in 1850:

“Well, let her say ‘no’ as if she meant it,” said Lawless; “women can, if they like, eh? and then it will all be as right as ninepence. Eh! don’t you see?”

“Easier said than done, Lawless, unfortunately,” replied Coleman; “my fat rival is the son of an opulent drysalter, and last year he contrived to get rid of his father.”

And so while the idiom right as rain can only be traced back to the late 19th century, it would seem that what follows right as isn’t always important as long as it’s right as … as the many examples have proven.  So it’s actually right as that determines that everything is perfectly fine and good, and in the case of right as rain, it’s just a nice bit of alliteration as well.

Posted in Idioms from the 14th Century, Idioms from the 19th Century, Unknown | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Tune Out

Posted by Admin on June 17, 2011

For those who have actually tuned out, you know how difficult it can sometimes be to stop paying attention to sounds and noises in one’s immediate environment.  It’s not a new problem; it’s been around for centuries.  However, it’s been less than a century since the expression tune out was introduced into conversational English.

On March 18, 2011 USA Today ran an article entitled, “Tennessee Tries To Tune Out Pearl Controversy.”  The article dealt with Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl and the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations Bruce Pearl allegedly committed and allegedly lied about.

Just over a decade before that article was published, the Post And Courier newspaper of Charleston, South Carolina published an Associated Press article on March 7, 2001 entitled, “Napster Must Tune Out Songs.”  Like the previous story mentioned, this article dealt with crimes committed (in this case copyright infringement) and the Federal court order directing Napster to remove copyrighted music (as identified by a list that had been submitted to the court) from the music-swapping service.

The decade before that, the Milwaukee Journal published a news story by Dale R. Steinke entitled, “State Wants To Tune Out New Show.”  The article reported on the national television news program aimed at high school students that the State Department of Public Instruction in Wisconsin refused to allow into their schools.  While the Department did not object to the news in the program, it did object to the commercials for junk food and razor blades.

The Chicago Tribune wrote about voter turnout in their November 23, 1977 edition.  The article was aptly named, “The Voters Tune Out.”  The article states in part:

Who was it who said, “What if they gave a war and nobody come?” Well, whoever it was, if he took a look at the turnout at the polls two weeks ago he might be tempted to give it a new twist and ask, “What if they gave an election and nobody voted?”

On October 14, 1964 the Sarasota Journal carried a news story entitled, “Networks Caught In The Squeeze: Viewers Tune Out Political Ads.”  It addressed the problem the 3 American networks of the day were experiencing when they pre-empted entertainment programs to make room for short paid political broadcasts.  The reason was because even a 50-minute paid political broadcast meant that the network would invariably lose part of their audience because the ad ran.

However, 30 years before that, on February 2, 1934 the New York Times ran an article entitled, “Dry Areas To Be Invited To Tune Out Gin On Radio.”  It stated in part:

For the first time on record a radio announcer will invite persons listening in tomorrow night to tune out his station. The invitation was devised by Station WOR to safeguard a program, for which a liquor company is the sponsor, from being construed as advertising in sections banning alcohol.

The Los Angeles Times ran a series in the spring of 1922 entitled, “Times Radio Department.”  The April 1 column began with:

In the last lesson we showed how radio waves are sent out by the transmitting antenna. Our purpose today is to discuss the simplest method by which these waves may be detected at a distant station. It will be remembered that radio waves were first described as changing magnetic fields moving outward from the transmitter as a ripple in a pond moves out from the place where a pebble may have struck the surface of the water.

The article ended with:

Tomorrow we shall tell you how you can buy add a few more instruments to “tune out” or filter out that which the listener does not wish to hear.

It should be noted that in 1916, Frank Conrad began broadcasting from his Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania garage with the call letters 8XK. It was relaunched as KDKA on November 2, 1920 with the claim of being “the world’s first commercially licensed radio station”. Interestingly enough, KDKA was the first radio station to broadcast the results of the 1920 American Presidential Election or Republican candidate, Warren G. Harding and  Democratic cnadidate, James M. Cox.

Radio station CFCF in Montreal began broadcasting on May 20, 1920; radio station WWJ in Detroit began broadcasting on August 20, 1920.  Because the expression “tune out” links directly back to radios and broadcasting, Idiomation was unable to find an earlier published version of the expression than the one from the Los Angeles Times newspaper article series of 1922.

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

Never Two Without Three

Posted by Admin on March 9, 2011

The saying “never two without three” means that something, either positive or negative, that has already occurred twice before is likely to happen a third time. It is a direct translation of the French proverb, “Jamais deux sans trois” and the Italian proverb, “Mai due senza tre.”

Just a few years back, in a story published on September 18, 2006, USA Today interviewed then-French President, Jacques Chirac.  The interviewer stated that perhaps this would be the last time — this interview being the second such interview during his time in office — that USA Today would have the opportunity of interview Jacques Chirac as the President of France.  His response to that comment was this:

You never know. There’s an old proverb in French that says “never two without three.”

In the Indian Express newspaper published in Madras, Tamilnadu, India dated November 3, 1940,  an article appeared entitled, “Axis-Vichy Settlement Chances Evaporating” that reported:

Expectation of the an early settlement between France and the Axis have evaporated.  This wide-spread conviction in well-informed circles proves the oppositeness of the old French proverb “Jamais Deux Sans Trois” for it was already being taken for granted that Hitler’s wheedling of France had miscarried and many are at least doubtful whether Mussolini’s bolt in Greece has not misfired.

On October 24, 1935 a staff correspondent wrote an article for the Christian Science Monitor out of Boston (MA) entitled, “France Awaits Radical Swing To Left Or Right.”  It was the eve of the re-opening of Parliament in France and due to pressure from an international crisis at the time, the Radical Party knowing it held the fact of the then-French Cabinet in its hands.  It read in part:

The annual Congress of the Radical Party has resulted under somewhat similar circumstances in the overthrow of the French Government. There is a popular French proverb which says, “Never two without three.”

Agatha Christie’s short story “Never Two Without Three” is a Miss Marple story from the book “The Tuesday Murders” published in 1933.  The UK title was “The Thirteen Problems.” The original title for the story was “A Christmas Tragedy” but as was the way of publishers back in the day, the editor of the short story collection was renamed “Never Two Without Three.”

The publication “Italica” carried an article in 1983 entitled, “James Joyce and the Italian Language” in which readers learned that James Joyce’s elective affinity for Italian began in 1894 at the age of 12. James Joyce, it would appear, was familiar with the Italian proverb, “Mai due senza tre.”

Interestingly enough, Idiomation did find both the French and the English versions of this saying on the Hennequin Venteuil Coat of Arms.  The Blason de Venteuil, which is the crest from the Champagne region in France, dates back to January 13, 1722.

Try as Idiomation did, Idiomation was unable to track the phrase back in French, Italian or English any further than the early 1700s even though it appears to have already been established in both English and French conversational language as a proverb in 1722.

Posted in Idioms from the 18th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Strong As An Ox

Posted by Admin on February 8, 2011

Based on the concept that an ox is a very strong animal, the cliché “strong as an ox” is well-known but not used as often as one would think.

It certainly packs a certain punch when used, such as in the article by journalist Paul Wiseman published in USA Today on December 28, 2009 where the headline read “Texas’ banks are strong as an ox.”

The cliché has been a favourite of some established writers, whether we’re talking novels or cartoon scripts. In fact, in 1946 when Foghorn Leghorn burst on the animated scene, he was oftentimes heard uttering characteristic catch-phrases such as “the gal reminds me of the highway between Forth Worth and Dallas — no curves” and “that boy’s as strong as an ox, and just about as smart.”

In Chapter 9 (How The Wogglebug Taught Athletics) of “The Emerald City of Oz” written by L. Frank Baum and published in 1910, Baum wrote:

“It’s a fine thing,” declared Aunt Em, admiringly. “If we’d had it in Kansas I guess the man who held a mortgage on the farm wouldn’t have turned us out.”

“Then I’m glad we didn’t have it,” returned Uncle Henry.

“I like Oz better than Kansas, even; an’ this little wood Sawhorse beats all the critters I ever saw. He don’t have to be curried, or fed, or watered, an’ he’s strong as an ox. Can he talk, Dorothy?”

Almost 100 years before that, James Fenimore Cooper wrote “Imagination and Heart” published in 1823 where readers find:

“I guess he is–he’s as strong as an ox, and active as a cat,” said the other, determined he should pass.

“Well, then,” said the aunt, in her satisfied way, “let every thing be ready for us in Albany by next Tuesday. We shall leave home on Monday.”

The cliché goes back for centuries, all the way back to Psalm 92 of the Christian Bible and translates as follows:

You have made me as strong as a wild ox; you have blessed me with happiness.

It appears this way in a number of languages including French (“Et tu me donnes la force du buffle; Je suis arrosé avec une huile fraîche”), Spanish (“Pero tú has exaltado mi poder como el del búfalo; he sido ungido con aceite fresco“) and Italian (“Ma tu mi dài la forza del bufalo; io son unto d’olio fresco”).

Posted in Bible, Christian, Jewish, Religious References | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »