What’s the Beef?

What was said? “What’s the Beef?”

Did someone really say that? Yes, Jimmy Fallon has a segment on the Tonight Show called “What’s the Beef?” where he creates fictional fights between famous actors. I was watching with my parents and they were naturally questioning… “why beef?”

What does it mean? It means to have a problem or issue with someone or something, so in the context above, “what’s the issue/argument all about?”

Origin:

There are many ideas as to where this phrase started… all the way from it originating from rap songs signifying that when someone has “beef” with you, it ends up with a street fight where your face could get so banged up that it resembles ground beef, all the way to having to do with cow ownership and “beefy” situations:

  • The phrase “I have a beef with you” originated in the old west among sheep farmers who were competing for grazing land with cattle farmers. The sheep farmers used the term with each other to refer to a conflict, which was what they had with the cattle farmers, or “beef” farmers (answers.com)
  • Having to do with the ownership of cows and “cow feuds” which resulted as owners argued over the best interests of the cow and typically the cow got slaughtered and led to owners having “beef” with one another (10poundhammer blog)
  • First appearing in the U.S. during the late 1800s, “beef” describes a situation or complaint that might well escalate into a “beefy” muscular conflict (Word Detective)

So it seems, that there is not one origin for the phrase, but either way, Jimmy’s segment will make a lot more sense now!

Jimmy Fallon's "What the Beef?" Segment - Click to Play!

Jimmy Fallon’s “What the Beef?” Segment – Click to Play!

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Dog’s Breakfast

Volume 3. Issue 9.

What was said? “The meeting was a complete dog’s breakfast…”

Did someone really say that? Yes, in response to the question “how did the meeting go?” and apparently it was a disaster

What does it mean? It really just translates to a complete mess, mish-mash, hodgepodge or something that has gone very badly where the outcome wasn’t what was intended to be

Origin: Since the 1930′s, the saying “dog’s breakfast” has been used in the U.K. and Commonwealth countries as slang for “a complete mess.”  First recorded instance is from Eric Partridge, in the 1937 edition of his A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, the expression is listed as “a mess.” Although the origin isn’t exactly known, it alludes to the fact that if what you don’t succeed at what you are cooking, then the results are only fit for a dog. It’s usage can be widespread – from what a messy room looks like, to how a meeting went (like the example above).  It is suggested that this dates from a time before canned dog food when a pup’s breakfast would have consisted of dinner leftovers from the night before; hence, “a mess.” Not to be confused with a  parallel expression “a dog’s dinner” which means quite the opposite and usually comes in the form of “all dressed up like a dog’s dinner” and sarcastically means over-dressed / showy.

Dog Breakfast Pic

Sources:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dog’s%20breakfast
http://www.nytimes.com/1993/03/07/magazine/on-language-dog-s-breakfast.html

http://dogknowledge.net/dog-stories-and-facts/dog-funny-stories/a-dogs-breakfast-and-a-dogs-dinner.php

http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/a+dog’s+breakfast

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=dog%27s%20breakfast

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/114550.html

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Belt and Suspenders

Volume 3. Issue 8.

What was said? That was so “belt and suspenders” of us anyway…

Did someone really say that? Yes, my friend Rita and I were walking to a restaurant in Nashville with both our Google maps app open on our iPhone and a paper printout of the directions. When we realized we lost the printout along our walk, Rita proclaimed the phrase above.

What does it mean? Someone who wears a belt and suspenders is very cautious and takes no risks. It refers to redundant systems, a form of “double insurance,” where either the belt or the suspenders serve as a backup in the event of the other failing (literally – no one needs to wear both a belt and suspenders to hold up their pants!)

Origin: First found in print in 1935 in the Galveston Daily News, where the ‘News Behind the News’ column states: “A pessimist wears both belt and suspenders.” Today, the phrase “belt and suspenders,” is used mainly in business and law when two strategies are used to minimize the risk that would be exist should only one strategy be in place.

http://ep.yimg.com/ca/I/suspenderstore_2269_8233259.jpg

Sources:

http://onlinelaw.wustl.edu/legal-english-belt-and-suspenders/
http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/61250.html
http://www.usingenglish.com/reference/idioms/belt+and+suspenders.html
http://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/belt-and-suspenders.asp
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/belt_and_suspenders
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=belt-and-suspenders%20man

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Johnny on the Spot

Volume 3. Issue 7.

What was said? We need a printer in Chicago… Johnny on the spot. You got it?

Did someone really say that? Yes, when working on a proposal and we needed to make sure we had a print house ready to meet our oddest and slightly unrealistic demands.

What does it mean? A person who is on hand and ready to perform a service or respond to an emergency (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Origin: The phrase dates back to 1896 and was the subject of an article in the New York Sun titled “Johnny on the Spot: A New Phrase Which Has Become Popular in New York.” The article details the expression that had become very popular in NYC. According to the writer, the phrase is from a slightly longer version, ‘Johnny is always on the spot when wanted.’ … where Johnny refers to a general male (like John Doe). Although, the author does venture to provide a little more detail on who Johnny is: “a man or youth who may be relied upon to be at a certain stated place when wanted… an individual who is prompt and farseeing, alive to his own interests and keenly sensible of means for promoting his own advantage is a ‘Johnny on the spot.’”

The original article was syndicated and below is the reprint found in the San Francisco Call from April 1896

The original article was syndicated and below is the reprint found in the San Francisco Call from April 1896

Side Note:  There are few companies appropriately named “Johnny on the Spot” in the US. They are suppliers of portable restrooms / bathrooms and are on-hand and ready to preform a service / respond to an emergency!

Portable Toilet

Talk about a Johnny on the Spot!

Sources:
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/johnny-on-the-spot
http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-joh3.htm
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_etymology_of_Johnny_on_the_spot

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Blue Bird Opportunity

Volume 3. Issue 6.

What was said? “If they are all the right ‘blue birds,’ then no action is required”

Did someone really say that? Yes, in an email referencing a list of potential project / sales opportunities.

What does it mean? An easily made sales opportunity that is unexpected or very profitable.

Origin: Bluebird is defined as ‘happiness’ by the Oxford English Dictionary with its origin dating back to 1909. Most of us know the bluebird (also blue-bird and blue bird) as an actual bird found commonly in North America. The first mention of bluebird was in the “l’Oiseau bleu” 1909 play by Belgian dramatist and poet Maurice Maeterlinck, literally translating to “The Blue Bird” with the figurative speech used in the play “the bluebird of happiness.” Bluebirds tend to elicit happiness as seen in the song “ Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly” from the Wizard of Oz from 1939. The term has been increasingly used in corporate circles in the past few years and “Bluebirds are those new business opportunities, which seem to fly in through the window. Many professional services firms are tempted to pitch for every bluebird that comes their way, but this may not be a profitable use of their resources in the long-term (How to Manage Bluebirds). In a nutshell it’s sales slang for an opportunity (or actual sale) that presents itself to the salesperson or the selling organization without having made much direct effort in securing it.

[image: slideshow]

Side Note: Most school buses in the US are made by the Blue Bird Corporation, which began in 1927 and is based in Fort Valley, GA.

Sources:
http://salesdictionary.com/index.php?term=b&tab=%3F
http://onlineslangdictionary.com/meaning-definition-of/bluebird
http://www.waywordradio.org/bluebird/
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=hermann+maurice+saxe
http://businesstoday.intoday.in/story/new-words-in-business/1/13969.html
http://www.infobarrel.com/The_Blue_Bird_of_Happiness_Phrase:_Origins_and_Meanings

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Kit and Kaboodle

Volume 3. Issue 5.

What was said? “So… I mean the whole kit and kaboodle on the job front is…”

Did someone really say that? Yes, in an email to me about what’s really going on with a friend’s job.

What does it mean? The whole shebang, the works, the full story.

Origin: “Kit and Kaboodle” has origins in the 18th century, England. Kit, which comes from the word “kith” meaning “estate.” So the “Whole Kith” would mean everything one owns. Soldiers in the 1700′s also carried a bag with everything they needed called a Kitbag. Kaboodle (or Caboodle) has a few more variations of origin. Some say it comes from “boodle” which was known to describe a collection of items or people. Caboodle was also used at times as a legal term for “estate”.  Some believe it’s from the Dutch boedel, meaning one’s inheritance or estate. In the US, boodle came to mean money attained illegally / through corrupt means. The phrase “the whole boodle” can also be used to describe the same thing. The phrase also appears in Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue in 1785, a dictionary of slang words, pretty much the precursor to Urban Dictionary.

Commercially, Purina’s “Kit and Kaboodle” pet food means your precious little cat is getting “the works”.

In the 90′s, there was an extremely popular product: the “Caboodle”… it was a magical place for teenage girls to store the makeup they weren’t allowed to wear.

Sources:
http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-who2.htm

http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/2/messages/329.html

http://ahoy.tk-jk.net/macslog/MurrayWaldrenscolumnThats.html

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Month of Sundays

Volume 3. Issue 4.

What was said?  It will take you a month of Sundays to get through all the revisions.

Did someone really say that? Yes, in a client meeting discussing product promotions at retailers and the many revisions that are made before the promotion goes live.

What does it mean? Something that is going to take a LONG TIME…. A seemingly endless or prolonged period of time.

Origin: The expression is said to mean 30/31 weeks (the amount of time it takes a month of Sundays to pass) and has is believed to have origins from the Christian Holy Day of Sunday, the Sabbath. This day was a “day of rest” and was a long, solemn day devoid of amusement. Activities were even regulated on Sunday by law at times and therefore Sunday could seem long and tiresome (out of boredom)… therefore a month of Sundays could feel like an eternity. It is also sometimes used to denote something that will never happen.

The Oxford English Dictionary cites the first printed use of the phrase from 1759:

“The commander..swore he should dance to the second part of the same tune, for a month of Sundays.”
H. MURRAY Life & Real Adventures Hamilton Murray I. x. 121

NOTE: There are some variations on this, such as: Week of Sundays, Week of Saturdays, etc.

A whole month of Sundays

Sources:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/month+of+sundays,+a

http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/59/messages/129.html

http://www.wordwizard.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?t=20154

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-does-the-idiom-a-month-of-sundays-mean.htm#did-you-know

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