Category Archives: Phrases

Drop a Dime

Drop a dime

What was said? He’s just “dropping dimes!”

Did someone really say that? Yes, my husband announced it as we were watching NBA finals back in June (sorry for the post delay!)

What does it mean? In the basketball context above, it means to “assist,” meaning to assist another player in scoring (passed the ball, helped the other teammate score, etc.).

Origin:  The phrase originates back to the 40’s or 50’s and refers to making a phone call at a payphone where the price of a call was 10 cents. The call though, was typically made by a police informant who would literally “drop a dime” to make the call and snitch on someone / “assist” the police in their detective work of catching criminals.

There are other phrases with the term “dime” such as “stopping on a dime,” and “at the drop of a dime,” both referring to precision, speed & accuracy and can be used for basketball as well.

Next time you are watching basketball on TV, listen closely and you may hear an announcer say that a player has “dropped a dime!”

Sources:
https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=drop%20a%20dime
https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-history-of-the-slang-term-Dropped-a-dime
https://wordcounter.net/blog/2016/03/07/101271_what-is-a-dime-basketball.html

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Give ’em Hell Harry

Give em hell

What was said? Give ’em hell Harry!

Did someone really say that? Yes, on Shark Tank, Lori Greiner (Queen of QVC) said it to an entrepreneur who was responding to pestering questions by Mark Cuban.

What does it mean? It means to respond to something bluntly or in a straight-forward manner (potentially on the “attack”).

Origin: It refers back to an incident in the 1948 US presidential election campaign where Harry S. Truman delivered a speech during his whistle-stop campaign. He visited multiple states all by train with a platform at the rear of the train where he delivered his speeches.  During his speech attacking Republicans in Harrisburg, IL, a supporter yelled “Give ‘em Hell, Harry!” and Truman responded “I don’t give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it’s Hell.” Since then, the term “Give ‘em Hell, Harry!” was used as a slogan for supporters of Truman.

This is also the name of a biographical play and the 1975 film written by Samuel Gallu. These both feature a one-man show about President Harry S. Truman. The play’s debut was hosted by Truman’s daughter Margaret and attended by President Gerald Ford. James Whitmore starred in the play and was nominated for Best Actor by the Academy Awards and Golden Globes and he won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Recording.

Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Give_’em_Hell,_Harry!
https://idiomation.wordpress.com/tag/give-em-hell-harry/
https://epiac1216.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/quotes-give-em-hell-harry/

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Up the River

uptheriver

What was said? That the word on the street is the Pediatric chief is “up the river””

Did someone really say that? Dr. Minnick on Grey’s Anatomy (yes, I shamefully still watch it) insensitively said it on Season 13, Episode 11 about Dr. Alex Karev.

What does it mean? It means to be in prison / incarcerated or be sent to prison.

Origin: It appears to be first used in 1981 and originates from the fact that convicts from NYC would be sent up the Hudson River to Ossining State Prison (known as “Sing Sing”).

If you were a serious criminal, you were sent to Sing Sing “up the river” as opposed to the run of the mill pickpockets or those who committed minor offenses who stayed in more local prisons. Now the term has come to apply to anyone sent to any prison.

Up the River is also a 1930 comedy movie about escaped convicts, directed by John Ford and starring Spence Tracy and Humphrey Bogart in their feature film debuts.

“Up the river” should not be confused with being sold “down the river,” meaning to be deceived and originates from the Civil War era sending Northern slaves down the river to work on cotton plantations.

Sources:
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php? term=up%20the%20river
http://stuffnobodycaresabout.com/2012/05/27/where-did-the-saying-up-the-river-come- from/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Up_the_River
http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/up+the+river

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Rope-A-Dope

What was said? “We’ll just Rope-A-Dope until the change comes through.”

Did someone really say that? Yes, at a meeting when discussing upcoming changes to a marketing program and how the program will be affected (if at all).

What does it mean? Basically, in this context, the plan was to “lay low” or resume business as usual until the change to the program actually happens.

Origin: The term originated in the 1970s and refers to a move by Muhammad Ali, and his tactic in a boxing match with George Foreman in the infamous “Rumble in the Jungle” match. Foreman was favored to win and during the fight, Ali purposely provoked Foreman into attacking and forcing him with his back on the ropes.  The tactic allows the boxer (in this case Ali) to take a protected stance and allow the blow of the punches from Foreman to be absorbed by the ropes and not just his body so he can prepare for a counter-attack. The idea to use the move by Ali was apparently suggested to him by boxing photographer George Kalinsky who told him: “Why don’t you try something like that? Sort of a dope on the ropes, letting Foreman swing away but, like in the picture, hit nothing but air.” Some believe that Muhammad Ali coined the phrase, and others that publicist John Condon polished the phrase into “rope-a-dope” (originally known as “the turtle”).

 In business, or non-boxing setting, the term has come to be used as a “rope-a-dope” strategy referring to any strategy where an apparent “losing” or passive, not aggressive position is assumed in the hope of eventual victory – so in the case above, staying the course of action allows us to win in the end when changes hit the program !

Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rope-a-dope
http://www.yourdictionary.com/rope-a-dope
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/rope-a-dope
http://en.espn.co.uk/onthisday/sport/story/319.html
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Muhammad-Ali-boxer#ref1133296

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Oh My Stars (and Garters)!

VS OhMyStars

What was said? “OH MY STARS”

Did someone really say that? It’s printed on the backside of a pair of women underwear at Victoria Secret (which I know now thanks to a present from my friend Lindsay!)

What does it mean? In a nutshell, a comedic expression of surprise / shock.

Origin: In 1593, Christopher Marlowe used the expression without the “garter” in a play The Troublesome Raigne and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second: “O my stares! Why do you lower (bring down in rank) unkindly on a king?” The stars in question refer to the astrological stars and one’s disposition in life.

In the 19th century, the expression began to be used in a lighter, more comedic expression to signify surprise. There are other versions, however.

The expression is believed to have also began in the UK as “oh my stars and garters” and refers to honors and awards received as achievements (not referring to the astrological stars). For instance, there was a “Noble Order of the Garter” which was the highest order in the English knighthood founded by Edward III in 1344. This chivalrous medal was in the form of a star like many other medals in Britain. Stars and Garters became the generic name referring to the medals to the group of individuals who had them. The earliest written reference of the phrase was in Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” in 1712: “While Peers, and Dukes, and all their sweeping train, And Garters, Stars and Coronets appear.”

 Other expressions that are very similar with “stars” in mind: Bless my stars and Thank my lucky stars! Other expressions that lightly tread upon surprise / astonishment: By golly, Oh my!, Oh my gosh, My My, Dear Me, Crikey!

Sources:
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Hobson’s%20choice
http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/hobsons-choice.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobson%27s_choice
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morton%27s_fork
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MortonsFork

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Hobson’s Choice

take it or leave itWhat was said? “What is it when there’s no right answer to the question? A Hobson’s Choice?”

Did someone really say that? Yes, at work the other day, when presented with two options, neither being good ones, a coworker asked that question aloud…

What does it mean? It actually means a question where really only one option is offered, so you have to “take it or leave it” so to speak. It gives a false illusion of a “choice.”

Origin: The story goes that a Thomas Hobson (1544–1631) ran a carrier and horse rental business in Cambridge, England, where he rented out horses but refused to hire them out other than in the order he chose. The choice he gave his customers was ‘this or none’; quite literally, meaning not their choice but Hobson’s choice.

A well known “Hobson’s choice” was Henry Ford’s offer of the Model-T, “you can pick any color, as long it’s black!”  The expression is best known in the UK, but became used worldwide following the successful eponymous 1954 film starring Charles Laughton.

NOTE: I believe the use of “Hobson’s Choice” when I first heard it was not accurate, it was more of a “Morton’s Fork” which is being presented with two equivalent choices in which contradictory arguments lead to the same conclusion.

Sources:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Hobson’s%20choice
http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/hobsons-choice.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobson%27s_choice
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morton%27s_fork
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MortonsFork

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Goose Egg & Lay an Egg

What was said? “When you look at the program results, all you see is “goose egg, goose egg, goose egg!”

Did someone really say that? Yes, last week when discussing how many program incentives a customer is claiming.

What does it mean? It means a big ZERO! Zilch, zip, nada.

Origin: Throughout my search, it seems that the majority of “goose egg” references is in the world of sports. Referencing a scoreboard and seeing the number zero that has a similar “look” as a round, elongated egg of a goose. Sample scoreboard references: “The home team got a big goose egg on the scoreboard,” or “At the end of the game there was nothing but goose eggs next to our name,” and even used as a verb sometimes “I played a tennis match and was goosegged, I lost 6-0, 6-0, 6-0.” Some believe that the term is an Americanization of the British term “duck’s egg” and that even that originated through sports – in 1870, in a game of cricket, a “duck’s egg” denoted a score of zero; and around the same time in baseball, the “goose egg” reference came alive. In tennis, a score of zero is known as “Love” in the USA, which “sounds” like the original French term for the score “l’ouef” which means… you guessed it – an egg!

To lay an egg is another expression that also means to flop, fail and to not score and apparently has no connection to a hen/goose/duck actually laying an egg. So in summary, not scoring is to “lay an egg” with a resulting “goose egg” on the scoreboard simply because the Arabic numeral “0” zero resembles an egg. Super scientific!

Gooseegg

Sources:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=goose+egg
http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/goose+egg
http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/5516/origin-and-meaning-of-lay-an-egg
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/lay+an+egg

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