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by Ken Greenwald
Mon Jan 03, 2005 6:22 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: the dickens
Replies: 6
Views: 9834

the dickens

Thank you Leif! I was so focused on trying to make sense of the word "dickens" that it didn't occur to me to look up "cute". I'm embarrassed to say that I was unaware of cute's original meaning (from "acute"). So "cute as the dickens" is now commonly used to mean the opposite of what it originally m...
by Ken Greenwald
Mon Jan 03, 2005 6:17 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: the dickens
Replies: 6
Views: 9834

the dickens

In the first example of cute as the dickens, one must understand that cute can stand for clever or sly as well as pretty. One of the great characteristics attributed to the devil is that he/she can assume whatever shape he/she needs to practice his devilish trade. Therefore, he/she could assume the ...
by Ken Greenwald
Mon Jan 03, 2005 6:09 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: the dickens
Replies: 6
Views: 9834

the dickens

“Cute as the dickens” is not mentioned in the reference below, but I believe that in our expression it also means “devil,” but in a less negative way, as in “devilish” and “mischievous” – “cute as a devil.” “You little dickens” is another expression which I always took to mean “You little devil” in ...
by Ken Greenwald
Mon Jan 03, 2005 5:59 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: the dickens
Replies: 6
Views: 9834

the dickens

The use of 'dickens' as a euphemism for devil is dated by various sources as being much older than the period of the Victorian novellist. For example, M-W.com gives a very precise 1598, while Websters 1913 offers a quote from Shakespeare ("I can not tell what the dickens his name is."). So it seems ...
by Ken Greenwald
Sun Jan 02, 2005 11:38 pm
Forum: Usage and Writing
Topic: notch up
Replies: 8
Views: 2447

notch up

Phil, I agree with you. All, except one, of the notch expressions that I am aware of have connotations which are positive as in topnotch (first-rate, outstanding, superior): "His work is always topnotch"; to the notch (to perfection, exactly): "He was up to the notch in his game"; a notch in your be...
by Ken Greenwald
Sun Jan 02, 2005 9:03 pm
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: jumbo
Replies: 9
Views: 1384

jumbo

John, Michael Quinion always does a great job of sorting things out and is, from my experience, a source to be trusted. ______________________________________ World Wide Words by Michael Quinion JUMBO : Many people, especially here in Britain, would immediately think of the famous African elephant o...
by Ken Greenwald
Sun Jan 02, 2005 1:37 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: in the tub
Replies: 3
Views: 866

in the tub

Edgar, Both Russ’ and Dale’s interpretations make sense here and maybe the author realized there was a double meaning.
by Ken Greenwald
Sun Jan 02, 2005 1:05 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: profanity and sacrilige
Replies: 16
Views: 2640

profanity and sacrilige

Thanks Leighton Harris. What you said was interesting so thank you, but does that mean there is no difference between profanity and sacrilege? Are they the same thing, taking God's name in vain, or using it in swearing? If they mean the same, why is there two different words for it! Reply from Natho...
by Ken Greenwald
Sat Jan 01, 2005 9:26 pm
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: chairman
Replies: 1
Views: 966

chairman

William, Interesting supposition, but bogus. The prefix ‘man-’ does derive from Latin ‘manus,’ hand, which does relate to hand in such words as ‘manual,’ ‘manufacture’ ‘manuscript,’ ‘manage,’ and ‘manner.’ Of course ‘man’ can also mean ‘human being’ in such words as ‘mankind’ and ‘woman’ [‘wif,’ wif...