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you have a lot of gall- or is it gaul?

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:15 pm
by tara23
Dose anyone know for sure if the saying "to have gall" i.e. courage, is in reference to the gall bladder or the Gauls as in French soldiers - ?
It is possible that as in, "you've got a lot of nerve" , the previous could be reference to a corporeal fortitude.
I'd appreciate any insights, thanks,

Re: you have a lot of gall- or is it gaul?

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:21 pm
by Tony Farg
To me it has always been "gall", and since the gall bladder contains bile which is very bitter (never burst it when gutting animals or it taints the meat) that gives rise to the use meaning "you've got a lot of bitterness/rancour"

Re: you have a lot of gall- or is it gaul?

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 10:25 pm
by JANE DOErell
Onelook's quick definition, about the third down "the trait of being rude and impertinent; inclined to take liberties" and MW's second "brazen boldness coupled with impudent assurance and insolence" are what the expression "you've got a lot of gall" brings to the mind of this old US geezer. I heard it a lot in my youth.

Re: you have a lot of gall- or is it gaul?

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:22 pm
by dalehileman
This might not help much but it might give you an idea ... afe=images

Re: you have a lot of gall- or is it gaul?

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:31 am
by gdwdwrkr
Maye it's "gaul", as in "typical white person".

Re: you have a lot of gall- or is it gaul?

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:22 pm
by hsargent
It is gall. If you have butchered an animal, the gall gives off a very unpleasant liquid.

Re: you have a lot of gall- or is it gaul?

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 5:10 pm
by gdwdwrkr
It takes a lot of galls to make ink.
I believe all oak sawyers witness an accidental making of this ink every time they saw an oak log. Everywhere the fresh oak touches iron, given a little time, a blue-black stain develops on the wood.

Oak can be stained with various mixtures containing the dust from an electric grinder...fine iron dust.

Ox gall, on the other hand is useful, too.

Re: you have a lot of gall- or is it gaul?

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 5:13 pm
by PhilHunt
[Origin: bef. 900; ME; OE galla, gealla; c. G Galle; akin to L fel, Gk chol gall, bile]

Interestingly 'Gall' can also be used as a verb.
[Origin: bef. 1000; ME galle (n.), gallen (v.) perh. < MD, MLG gall, akin to OE gealla sore on a horse]
gall2 /gɔl/
–verb (used with object)
1. to make sore by rubbing; chafe severely: The saddle galled the horse's back.
2. to vex or irritate greatly: His arrogant manner galls me.
–verb (used without object)
3. to be or become chafed.
4. Machinery. (of either of two engaging metal parts) to lose metal to the other because of heat or molecular attraction resulting from friction.
5. Metallurgy. (of a die or compact in powder metallurgy) to lose surface material through adhesion to the die.
There is also an interesting idiom which I've never heard of:
—Idiom5. gall and wormwood, bitterness of spirit; deep resentment.
Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary -
Heb. la'anah, the Artemisia absinthium of botanists. It is noted for its intense bitterness (Deut. 29:18; Prov. 5:4; Jer. 9:15; Amos 5:7). It is a type of bitterness, affliction, remorse, punitive suffering. In Amos 6:12 this Hebrew word is rendered "hemlock" (R.V., "wormwood"). In the symbolical language of the Apocalypse (Rev. 8:10, 11) a star is represented as falling on the waters of the earth, causing the third part of the water to turn wormwood. The name by which the Greeks designated it, absinthion, means "undrinkable." The absinthe of France is distilled from a species of this plant. The "southernwood" or "old man," cultivated in cottage gardens on account of its fragrance, is another species of it.

Re: you have a lot of gall- or is it gaul?

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 5:16 pm
by gdwdwrkr
Phil, can you verify that the Russian word for that wormwood is "Chernobyl"?

Re: you have a lot of gall- or is it gaul?

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 5:56 pm
by trolley
Julius Caesar had a lot of Gaul.

Re: you have a lot of gall- or is it gaul?

Posted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 7:32 am
by Wizard of Oz
.. Tara there has long been a connection between courage and the gallbladder in Eastern traditional medicine ..
According to the theory of internal organs in traditional Chinese medicine, the gallbladder has the function of making judgments and decisions in mental processes and activities, and it also determines one's degree of courage. This culturally constructed medical characterization of the gallbladder forms the base of the cultural model for the concept of courage.
(Yu, Ning, Metaphor, Body, and Culture: The Chinese Understanding of Gallbladder and Courage. Metaphor and Symbol, 2003, Vol. 18, No. 1, p 13-31.)

Another singular custom consisted of the collection of human galls, which were kept in jars for the king’s consumption, as was also practised in Champa. In many cultures, the human gall is considered the symbol of courage, and the collection of gall would not have made Chou Ta Kuan frown, even if they had been picked out from dead bodies. But the tradition in Cambodia, as well as in Champa, required that galls be taken from living human beings, at night with a special knife.
(Oscar Chapuis, (1995) A History of Vietnam: from Hong Bang to Tu Duc, p56, (ISBN 0313296227)

Gall Bladder deficiency is characterised by timidity and cowardice – in fact, the Chinese refer to cowardly behaviour as “having a small Gall Bladder”.
There exists a “clock pair” relationship between the Gall Bladder and the Heart, with the Gall Bladder lending courage to the mind, which is ruled by the Heart.
(Soszka, Shawn. Treatment by chinese medicine liver & gallbladder based erectile dysfunction (Part One), Journal of Chinese Medicine, No 68, February 2002)
.. Ning relates the following connections between the Chinese language, courage and gall >>> Dan-liang (gall-capacity) = courage, dan-da (gall-big) = bold, brave, dan-xiao (gall-small) = timid, cowardly, dan-xiao gui (gall-small devil) = coward ..

Brewer has this to say about the gall ..
Gall: The bitterest grief; extreme affliction. The ancients taught that grief and joy were subject to the gall, affection to the heart, knowledge to the kidneys, anger to the bile (one of the four humours of the body), and courage or timidity to the liver.
(E. Cobham Brewer. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.)
.. but I found further references that qualify the influence of the humours ..
Choler Humour – Closely associated with the nervous system and acts to increase its rate of function. Choler clarifies all humours and has a warming effect on the body. Choler also stimulates the intellect and increases physical and mental activity and courage. Its receptacle is the gall bladder.
(Understanding the Theory Behind Graeco-Arabic Medicine. Traditional Medicine Network (Australia)
.. now Tara this has only faintly scratched the surface but it has given you some direction to follow on with ..

WoZ in Aus 27/03/08

Re: you have a lot of gall- or is it gaul?

Posted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:10 pm
by tony h
My understanding is that from the four humours of ancient medicine we have a number of useful adjectives. quoted from ... lekey=6836 I have added the bits in red.

The humors (humours, in England) originated in an ancient theory that held that health came from a balance [well balanced or level headed] between the bodily liquids. These liquids, the humors, were four in number: [bad humour, good humor]

Phlegm (water) [ phlegmatic]
Blood [sanguine]
Black bile or gall (secreted by the kidneys and spleen)
Yellow bile or choler (secreted by the liver [and Gall bladder]) [choleric and a lot of gall]
Disease arose when imbalance occurred between these four humors. The treatment of disease was simple, straightforward, and logical (assuming the humoral theory to be correct).

The doctor needed first to diagnose the humoral imbalance. Then if one humor were deficient, the doctor had to strengthen it. And, conversely, if another humor were excessive, the doctor needed to purge it.

Take a person who was "bad-humored" because of too much blood. Superfluous blood was removed by bleeding the patient or applying leaches to suck out the extra blood. By such means, the person became "good-humored."

This theory (which is variously called the humoral theory, humoralism, and humorism) has been ascribed to ancient Greek writers at the time of Hippocrates. Hippocrates' inexact dates were about 460 to about 375 BC. But, in truth, the theory was devised well before Hippocrates and it was widely believed for over two thousand years.

The four humors did not just explain health and disease. They were believed to correspond to the four principal temperaments:

Phlegm to the phlegmatic (laid-back) temperament
Blood to the sanguine (passionate) temperament
Black bile to the melancholic (sad) temperament
Yellow bile to the choleric (angry) temperament
If someone was both depressed and angry, he or she obviously had too much black and yellow bile. Any temperament could be explained by an appropriate blend of humors.

Re: you have a lot of gall- or is it gaul?

Posted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:33 pm
by gdwdwrkr
That took a lot of guts, tony h.