Tuesday Cliche

I have to apologize for not posting on Sunday. With the arrival of a new horse on Saturday and the land clearing we did on Sunday, I just didn’t have time to get it done. So, here we are! clichés abounding, just on a Tuesday 🙂

Spring has finally sprung in my corner of the world. We went from 40s and low 50s to 60s and 70s almost overnight. No complaints from me, I just suddenly have so much to do outside in the gardens. Today’s clichés will be rather eclectic, just whatever struck me as spring-y: weather, baby animals, etc.

April showers bring  May flowers: this one may be more of a proverb than an actual cliché, but it is definitely a bit worn around the edges.  The saying  is a reminder that even the most unpleasant of things, in this case the heavy rains of April, can bring about  enjoyable things, like  an abundance of flowers in May. A lesson in patience, perhaps? The cliché can be traced back to the 1500s, and was once a stanza:

                                                                                     Sweet April showers

Do spring May flowers — 1557, Thomas Tusser

As fresh as a Daisy: to feel remarkably well rested and ready to take on the day. Why would a daisy be fresh? Because they close their eyes at night! In fact, the name ‘daisy’ comes from the old English daeges eage, or “day’s eye” because it only “opened its eye” by day.

In two shakes of a lamb’s tail: to be ready in just a moment, to be quick. Originally this phrase was simply “two shakes”. But then one questioned, two shakes of what? At some point in the 19th century a clever person, apparently agriculturally minded, decided to add the ‘lamb’s tail’. Everyone knew that lambs shake their tails quickly and often, and the addition has stuck to this very day.

Shrinking Violet: a shy or modest person. This cliché is British in origin, founded by gentlemen poets who, while wandering the woods, coined the phrase for the ground hugging violet, who appeared to be shrinking back from all the taller vegetation around it.

There was the buttercup, struggling from a white to a dirty yellow; and a faint-coloured poppy; and here and there by the thorny underwood a shrinking violet –Leigh Hunt, early 1800s

Act the Giddy Goat: to be foolish. This one just sounds fun, a giddy goat might be quite entertaining to have about. This particular phrase has been built upon for centuries, as ‘giddy’ has been applied to all sorts of creatures in reference to them being foolish or silly.  As one can see from this British comic paper’s bit of verse:

Fanny Robinson was flighty; she played the giddy ox – I mean, heifer. –Ally Slopers Half Holiday, 1892

And, finally, while we are on animals:

To have a cow: to be overly excited, upset or anxious. While most of America, and perhaps the world, know this phrase from Bart Simpson, it does in fact predate the Simpsons.  The expression “have a cow” is said to have originated in the 1950s. The idea is that certain bits of unexpected or bad news might create the same agony and pain as literally giving birth to a cow. An earlier phrase from Britain, “having kittens” means basically the same thing and it seems likely that someone who thought having kittens would be too easy upgraded the saying to cows to express  his agony.



Filed under Cliche Sunday

7 responses to “Tuesday Cliche

  1. I like the giddy goat one


  2. Ah, I still use ‘to act the giddy goat’, though never really understood why goats were considered particularly daft. They seem pretty chilled-out eating machines to me.
    ‘Mad as a March hare’ I understand more, not because they suffer from mental health issues 🙂 but because they do box and dash about in the spring, which could be seen as odd in the days when every natural phenomena had hidden meaning.


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