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This place matters

Monday, July 11, 2011

A few of my favorite facts so far...

... from the book Everything You Know about English is Wrong, by Bill Brohaugh:
  • Bull, meaning the same thing as horse feathers (nonsensehoohabull hockeycodswallopclaptrap, etc.) is not a shortening of bullshitBull descends from the Old French word, bouler, which means to deceive. Mom points out that people like to change expressions to make them include swears that don't belong. As in laughing my head off makes sense as an expression, where laughing my ass off does not. I'm not sure if that's the case here, though.
  • Bonfire descends from the Middle English banefire, a fire in which they burned the bones of witches. Which, much like gorilla, is a pretty grisly origin for a thing we now sit around and watch for fun. 
  • Grisly, by the way, to wander away from Brohaugh for a second, descends from the Old English grislic, meaning dreadfulGrizzly means grey. The grizzly bear, however, was so named, not because it was grey but because it was grisly. Seriously, English, you're a silly, silly language.
  • Quick, as it is used in expressions like quick witquicksand, and quicksilver doesn't refer to speed; it means "alive." Quicksilver is silver that seems to move of its own volition. Quicksand is sand that eats you, and a quick wit is a lively wit. Also, quicksand, according to, doesn't really eat you. It's not usually deep enough, for one thing, usually only a couple feet or so. Also, quicksand is even more dense than water, so if you just lay back, you'll float. 


The Vegetable Assassin said...

You know, I'm only being a tiny bit flippant when I say, I will sleep better tonight now I have actual tips on surviving quicksand, because really, who hasn't panicked imagining themselves sucked down into a quicksand bog? And how come I never thought of the "lie back and float" thing? Panic. That's why. Thanks man!

Things To Do said...

Alright you just rocked my world. I never would have guessed that bull was not shortened from bullshit!