Tag Archives: Heads or Tails

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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Shrinking Violet

What was said? “I’m no shrinking violet. I’ll tell him exactly how I see it!”

Did someone really say that? Yes, when in northern Michigan, a friend said that about another friend and his idiosyncrasies.

What does it mean? Shrinking violet refers to a shy or modest individual, so in the case above, my friend was saying that she was in fact the opposite – more outspoken and outgoing.

Origin:

Most sources say that the phrase originated in the UK and refers to the violet flower, from the Viola family of flowers, which also includes pansies. The violet flower in the UK was known as a reclusive and understated flower, that is modest in nature because it grows close to the ground, is quite dainty and its flowers are sometimes hidden in its leaves and by nearby shrubs. A poetry magazine, The Indicator, contains what many believe was the first written instance of the saying from Leigh Hunt, published in 1820:

There was the buttercup, struggling from a white to a dirty yellow; and a faint-coloured poppy; and here and there by the thorny underwood a shrinking violet.

In the USA, the figurative use of the term describing individuals as shy/modest is most common. Also, there are two more commercial uses for the term:

  1. Weight loss wrap titled “shrinking violet” helping women “shrink a size”
  2. Book series for young girls where a “shrinking violet” is the main character and has many adventures making her go from normal to mini-me from time to time

Sources:
http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/shrinking-violet.html
http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-shr2.htm

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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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Six Ways To/From Sunday

Volume 3. Issue 3.

What was said?  We can go about it 6 ways from Sunday, but we need to just pick an approach and go with it.

Did someone really say that? Yes, in a meeting a few months ago when we needed to just get started on the work and we were belaboring how we were going to do it.

Another example from Urban Dictionary: “There are six ways from Sunday to calculate that physics problem but only one answer.”

What does it mean? To do something thoroughly, completely and in every way imaginable.

Origin: Unfortunately there is no clear origin to this expression, and at times it is said to Sunday, from Sunday and the number can range from 2 ways to 100 ways and so on (in the movie “Silver Lining Playbook” Bradley Cooper uses “10 ways to Sunday”)… There are even tales of “beating people who didn’t go to church on time six ways to Sunday” but none of them seem to hold any water.

What we do know is that on the calendar, there are six days after Sunday, and six days before Sunday. The phrase points out the inevitability of arriving to Sunday, no matter what day is the starting point. Implying there are six different ways to Sunday illustrates that any task/problem  has more than one way to approach it. To discuss a topic and use this idiom means that there are multiple options to follow to arrive at the same conclusion.

Whatever the number or preposition used, the expression “__ ways to/from Sunday” means “every possible way” or “all the ways I can think of.”

“Six Ways to Sunday” is also a title of a 1997 mob-related movie staring Deborah Harry.

Sources:

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-does-the-idiom-six-ways-to-sunday-mean.htm

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=six%20ways%20from%20sunday

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