Search found 82 matches

by John Barton
Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:34 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: toby [toby tap / water toby; toby jug]
Replies: 9
Views: 12765

toby [toby tap / water toby; toby jug]

Used in New Zealand, perhaps elsewhere, to mean "the mains water tap outside your house". Some decades ago, they were always inside the garden, near the road boundary; now the council moves them onto the 'berm' or strip of grass by the pavement. A very common word for which no-one questions the orig...
by John Barton
Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:01 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: lavatory
Replies: 18
Views: 6513

Re: lavatory

Maybe "conveniently" (pun intended) abbreviated to 'lav', but not correctly. The 'a' is long, as if 'lave-atory'; not that anyone uses it. And BTW, public lavatories should never be termed 'amenities', though they often are. 'Amenity' means 'pleasant' and should be confined to art galleries, librari...
by John Barton
Sun Apr 19, 2009 1:44 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: "Last straw"/Clochandichter
Replies: 41
Views: 38973

Re: Clochandichter

Isn't that the Inland Revenue motto - "Per ardua ad cadastre"? But honestly, shedding light isn't so much trouble as kicking at the thick black dark. If the sun were afreaid of darkness, it would never shine. Such as my article on Heinrich Heine's line "With his nightcap, and his nightshirt tatters,...
by John Barton
Mon Apr 13, 2009 6:04 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: "Last straw"/Clochandichter
Replies: 41
Views: 38973

Re: "Last straw"/Clochandichter

Well, scoff you all may, but here's another web item: http://www.theanswerbank.co.uk/Phrases-and-Sayings/Preview/Question347521.html Quizmonster Thurs 11/01/07 A deoch-an-doruis is a last drink...ie one for the road. Someone even invented the word 'clochandichter' to mean the drink before the one fo...
by John Barton
Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:33 pm
Forum: Miscellaneous
Topic: Tanha, Taniwha
Replies: 5
Views: 3952

Re: Tanha, Taniwha

The original home of the Maori, before a series of migrations taking centuries, is unknown. Southern India has been suggested in the last century by Edward Tregear. Many words and placenames in Sinhalese and Maori are very similar."Both Sinhalese and Maori languages appear to be the derivative of Sa...
by John Barton
Sun Mar 16, 2008 10:36 am
Forum: Miscellaneous
Topic: Tanha, Taniwha
Replies: 5
Views: 3952

Tanha, Taniwha

Are these of the same origin? Tanha (Encyc. Brit.) is: "Tanha (Pali), in the Buddhist chain of dependent origination, the thirst that leads to attachment". Pali is a spoken language, that may be written in any alphabet. Taniwha (Maori) is an apparently mythical reptile that kills whole communities, ...
by John Barton
Sun Mar 16, 2008 10:16 am
Forum: Usage and Writing
Topic: sooner than later
Replies: 16
Views: 6414

Re: sooner than later

Shortening or lengthening? Isn't 'sooner or later' a redundancy of 'soon or late'? As in, e.g., "Death is a black camel that, soon or late,
Will come to kneel at every gate".
by John Barton
Sat Mar 15, 2008 2:53 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: Het up
Replies: 2
Views: 1894

Het up

This appears to be regarded as slang by modern dictionaries. Can SKS give the earliest origin date (I think it is at least C16th), and whether I'm right in thinking it is an early (but not dialect) form of 'heated up', or 'hotted up'? These days one only hears it applied to people.
by John Barton
Sat Mar 15, 2008 2:47 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: Cute
Replies: 19
Views: 5788

Cute

"Cute" seems to be used these days as if it were a distinct word from "acute". Is the spelling 'cute now pedantic, as even 'phone and 'bus appear to be becoming?
by John Barton
Sat Mar 15, 2008 2:40 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: "I've fallen" meaning "I'm pregnant."
Replies: 45
Views: 14625

Re: "I've fallen" meaning "I'm pregnant."

Around the '20's or '30's, a lady was found dead at the foot of Beachy Head, Sussex. Sufficient to be headline news at that time, with a photo of the cliff complete with dotted line. Considerable mirth was caused by an over-zealous reporter, unfamiliar with vulgar jargon, who captioned it in bold ca...
by John Barton
Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:18 pm
Forum: Miscellaneous
Topic: Words that have changed their meaning
Replies: 15
Views: 14452

Words that have changed their meaning

Also 'commode' has lost its original meaning of 'chest of drawers' in favour of 'night stool'. And 'lavatory' - a place to wash - has become water closet. Incidentally, according to the 'Daily Telegraph', Kate Middleton has been discarded by Prince William and his associates for use of vulgarisms su...
by John Barton
Mon Apr 16, 2007 9:02 pm
Forum: Miscellaneous
Topic: Words that have changed their meaning
Replies: 15
Views: 14452

Words that have changed their meaning

"Simple" as 'feeble-minded' instead of just 'unsophisticated'; "presently" used in Tudor times to mean "at once"; "silly" used to mean 'holy', as in 'the silly (or seely) Lamb of God' or 'Silly Suffolk', which had more churches than pubs. In slang,'groovy' in around the '50's meant 'off colur' ('I'm...
by John Barton
Mon Mar 26, 2007 10:13 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: person of Chinese descent
Replies: 105
Views: 29057

person of Chinese descent

I think in the past "Chinese" (applied to people) was correct only as a plural - one Chinee, two Chinese. But that 'Chinee' became derogatory, or at least pejorative?
by John Barton
Sun Mar 25, 2007 9:30 pm
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: It's raining cats and dogs??
Replies: 12
Views: 3956

It's raining cats and dogs??

I think it was a reporter who suffered from Spooner's disease, live at the scene of a horrendous highway accident. Meaning to say "it's pouring with rain, and raining Datsun cogs", he actually gasped out :"It's roaring with pain, and raining..."
by John Barton
Sun Mar 25, 2007 9:19 pm
Forum: Miscellaneous
Topic: nightcap and nightshirt tatters [tappers -- Forum Mod.]
Replies: 4
Views: 6124

nightcap and nightshirt tatters [tappers -- Forum Mod.]

Thanks, everyone. It's nearly 60 years since I read this phrase somewhere - I wasn't reading Heine then, so it must have been a quote. Possibly in some theosophical work, such as "Isis Unveiled", "The Mahatma Letters", or "The Secret Doctrine". Infuriating when your memory plays up!