Tag Archives: Idioms

Up the River


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.

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/

REFERRALS:  Do you LOVE Rema’s Idiom Blog and look forward to it all the time? If so, refer your friends!


Filed under Business Sayings, Idiom, Idioms, Phrases, Sayings


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 !


REFERRALS:  Do you LOVE Rema’s Idiom Blog and look forward to it all the time? If so, refer your friends!


Filed under Business Sayings, Idiom, Idioms, Phrases, Sayings

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!


REFERRALS:  Do you LOVE Rema’s Idiom Blog and look forward to it all the time? If so, refer your friends!

1 Comment

Filed under Business Sayings, Idiom, Idioms, Phrases, Sayings

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!




REFERRALS:  Do you LOVE Rema’s Idiom Blog and look forward to it all the time? If so, refer your friends!

1 Comment

Filed under Business Sayings, Idiom, Idioms, Phrases, Sayings

It’s a Real Doozy

What was said? “It’s a real doozy!!”

Did someone really say that? Yes, at my nephew’s birthday party, a friend said that when discussing citric powder used in middle eastern cuisine.

What does it mean? To call something/someone a “doozy”, is to suggest it is extraordinary, one of a kind, remarkable or even bizarre. It is used both positively (as in the example above), and also at times to describe something that is troublesome or even difficult.

Origin: Sometimes spelled Doozy, Doozie, Doosie, Doosey, Duesey… there are a few of beliefs on where the expression originated.

1. A car!!  Beginning in 1921, during the Great Depression, two German-born brothers, the Duesenbergs, hand-crafted a luxury, american-made automobile line named after them. The vehicle was FAST (later model years winning Indy 500’s and the French Grand Prix) and EXPENSIVE (owned by the rich and famous). It came to be known as a “Duesey” and is one belief as to where the expression originated. NOTE: You may recognize it from the Great Gatsby movie with Leonardo DiCaprio (pictured below is a 1929 Duesenberg Model J, worth over $3 Million)

2. A Flower! Back in the 18th century, calling something a “daisy” was to call it great. The phrase made it’s way from England to North America, and appeared in print in 1836, in Thomas Chandler Haliburton’s The Clockmaker: “I raised a four year old colt once, half blood, a perfect picture of a horse, and a genuine clipper, could gallop like the wind; a real daisy, a perfect doll, had an eye like a weasel, and nostrils like Commodore Rodgers’s speakin’ trumpet”.

3. An Actress! Eleonora Duse, a famous Italian-born actress from the 19th century who spent time in the US and was greatly admired by President Cleveland and his wife, was commonly referred to as “Duse.” It is believed that this nickname, in combination with the “Daisy” origin, created the saying “Doozy.”



REFERRALS:  Do you LOVE Rema’s Idiom Blog and look forward to it all the time? If so, refer your friends!


Filed under Business Sayings, Idiom, Idioms, Phrases, Sayings

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.



REFERRALS:  Do you LOVE Rema’s Idiom Blog and look forward to it all the time? If so, refer your friends!

You are currently subscribed to: REMA’s “Making Heads or Tails of Idioms” blog! To unsubscribe, follow the instructions. If you unsubscribe, please know that you will be disliked.


Filed under Business Sayings, Idiom, Idioms