It’s time again for Percussive Etymology (now sporting its very own header, courtesy of the wife). In this fortnightly feature my trusty hammer and I will explore the origins of one of the many quirky phrases contained in the English language.
The continued positive response to this feature truly warms my heart. Following the brass monkey shenanigans I have been inundated with suggestions of other phrases to
mutilate explain, and even a specific request to once more debunk a popular fallacy regarding the origins of a particular expression. While mythbusting was not part of my initial plan for this feature, I acknowledge that I can provide a valuable service to the linguistic sciences by making this small addition.
In that vein we will today address the expression “rule of thumb”, suggested by Misha Burnett. (By the way, Misha recently published the final instalment in his Book of Lost Doors trilogy, The Worms of Heaven. Why don’t you stop by his blog and give it a look?)
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It’s time for the second instalment of Percussive Etymology. In this fortnightly feature my trusty hammer and I will explore the origins of one of the many quirky phrases contained in the English language.
After the resounding success of my post on “gumming up the works” it’s a bit intimidating to write another one of these. What if people don’t like it as much? What if I get no comments at all? What if I unwittingly offend my readers and they all unfollow this blog at once? (Do bestselling authors live with this pressure each time they submit a new novel to their publishers?)
However, let no
man person call me a coward. Today’s phrase (and pardon the French), “Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey”. Thanks to Matthew Wright for the suggestion.
(By the way, the best part of today’s post is at the very end, below the line.)
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Welcome to the first-ever instalment of Percussive Etymology. In this feature, which will initially publish once a fortnight, my trusty hammer and I will explore the origins of one of the many quirky phrases contained in the English language.
I’m kicking this off with the phrase, “Gumming up the works”. Why? Because a couple of weeks ago the phrase, along with the idea for this feature, simply popped into my head while I was in the shower. Some people sing in the shower, some solve mathematical formulae, I think up wacky blog ideas that will probably not survive until the end of the year.
Got your hammer? Then hold on tight!
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