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Friday, 8 March 2013

Friday Five- Five popular expressions and the meanings behind them

People say the funniest things. Just today, a friend was feeling out of sorts, I read someone the riot act and drove home in a real pea-souper! I love our language, and how people use it, and I've had some fun this week listening to the various strange-sounding phrases and expressions used around me, as well as paying attention to the ones I use automatically. How many of these do you use?


I love this- so cheerful! This feels very British, but the expression probably comes from India, where "Tikai babu" means something along the lines of "It's fine, sir".

Blowing a hoolie

Having moved around a bit, I've come to the conclusion that this expression to describe extreme wind or a storm is most well-known in Sussex, though I've no idea why. It possibly comes from a legendary Irish family, the Hoolihans (which is also where we get the word hooligans) who were apparently a bit wild.

Shake a leg

This one is a naval expression, and dates from the nineteenth century. Back then, women were allowed to sleep onboard if the ship was docked (I can't imagine why) and were afforded the luxury of a lie-in. When the shout came through to "Show a leg" everyone in bed had to stick one leg out- if it was smooth, they were left alone, but if it belonged to a hairy sailor they were turfed out to report for duty.

Put a sock in it

Early gramophones had no volume control, so the only way to muffle the sound was to, literally, put a sock or other wad of material into the horn. For some reason, whenever I hear or use this, I have a different mental image though...

Little jugs have big handles

A variation on the proverb "little pitchers have great ears", and used as a warning to adults that children are listening in to a conversation that maybe they should not be. This is fun because it's like speaking in code! I'm so sad...

Have you got any more good ones for me? I'd love to add to my collection!

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