Cliche Sunday

Another week for clichés! Looking, once more, for a theme I had an idea: I was going  to open my book and find the first intriguing cliché, then do clichés starting with that letter. Maybe I will do that next week. What really happened is that I opened the book and I saw one I had never heard of. I immediately decided to find clichés I had never heard of for a theme this week. Rather like an anti-cliche list 🙂 Let me know if you have heard of any of these, it can always depend upon where you live!

greasy luck: another way of saying good luck. Originally from Nantucket, the meaning was meant for whalers. Saying that as the ship left port meant one hoped the captain would fill his ship with oil quickly. Not sure I would use this one in modern times. Definitely would garner us some odd looks.

up the spout: our plans have failed, our situation is hopeless. This is both a literal and figurative cliché: both referring to a pawn shop. Literally, the “spout” was the elevator that took the pawned articles upstairs for storage. It was also slang for the pawn shop itself, which we would normally only turn to when out situation is hopeless. Dickens used this phrase when Mr. Pickwick went to Fleet Prison to see a friend. The meaning is old enough to been listed in the 1812 publication of James Vaux’s A New and Comprehensive Vocabulary of the Flash Language.

to catch a Tartar: to take something one thinks to advantageous, only to find an unpleasant attachment. This phrase was first found in the seventeenth century. An origination theory was published in 1785 by Francis Grose:

  “..this saying originated from a story of an Irish soldier in the Imperial service, who, in  a battle against the Turks, called out to his comrade that he had caught a Tartar. ‘Bring him along, then’, said he. ‘He won’t come,’ answered Paddy. ‘Then come along yourself,’ replied his comrade. ‘Arrah,’ cried he, ‘but he won’t let me.'”*

simon pure: similar to “the real McCoy,” used to indicate a genuine article. This phrase is literary in origin. Playwright Susannah Centlivre wrote A Bold Stroke for a Wife at a time when few women were writers,much less successful ones. In her play, produced in the 1720s, the main character (Simon Pure) had his papers of introduction stolen and later had to prove himself the “real Simon Pure.”

pope’s nose: also known as a fowl’s rear end. In the reign of James II, when anti-Catholicism was running high, some ‘wit’  noticed a similarity between the rump of a fowl and the nose of the Pope. Carrying forward, it continued to be derogatory to churchman: it was used by Longfellow in America;  the “epicurean morsel” was also known as the “parson’s nose.”  I find myself wondering exactly which fowl the Pope’s nose resembled. Hmmm….

*A Hog on Ice, Charles Funk

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