Whew! The holidays are done. I hope you all enjoyed yours, and welcome to 2017! Yup, that looks weird.
So back to our clichés every Sunday. Well, Monday? Had one last New Year’s dinner last night and a nap during the football game, so I started this post but didn’t quite finish.
Taking up where I left off, we are onto the F’s. And for my friend Michelle:
full of beans:lively, excited. An Americanism from the 1840’s. There are various theories of where it came from, but I am fond of the coffee bean origin. I can see that once coffee beans has been ingested, one would be lively and excited. Another idea is that the belief in “magic beans” could mean that a full of life person could have gotten some of the magic beans, resulting in their vim and vigor. Magic beans are from English folklore, as large seeds washed up sometimes on western Britain shores. Such exotic “beans” were ‘cherished, believed to ward off the evil eye and aid in childbirth.’*
as fine as frog’s hair: very fine, slender and narrow. An Americanism from the mid 1800s, it is an ironic statement on the lack of hair a frog has. The British have similar sayings, using other nonexistent items such as “rare as rocking horse shit.” The southern states have a slightly different version, attesting that a frog’s hair is slippery, as well as thin.
Time, February 1974:
“Disturbingly, many of the plaque owners were contractors or architects who stood to benefit from making political contributions – frog hair, as such funds are known… because, as old Sooners [Settlers who jumped the gun and arrived too soon to a claim] say, new money feels ‘as slippery as frog’s hair’.”
fuddy-duddy: an old stuffy person, clinging to old ways. This is also an Americanism, but with roots in Scotland and possibly England. In the mid-nineteenth century, the term “duddy fuddiel,” meaning a “ragged fellow,” can be found in English literature. The terms “fud” and “duddy”have been used in Scotland since the fifteenth century. Duddy meant ragged and fud meant a person’s back-end. As it crossed the ocean, it morphed into the version of a rather staid person and was first used with that meaning in Texas 1889. A pair of characters with those names were also popular in the newspapers.
Boston Evening Transcript, November 1895:
Fuddy: So Miss Dandervecken is going to marry an Englishman. A lord, I suppose?
Duddy: Well, no, not exactly: but I understand that he’s often as drunk as a lord.
fuzzy-wuzzy: I have always loved this saying, imagining fuzzy bears (like Paddington) and other various animals. It just sounds cute, right? However, learning the original meaning, I am thinking I might just never use again. This phrase was originally a derogatory reference to a black person, particularly their wiry hair. It came to being in English colonies in East Africa among British soldiers. It was made popular by Rudyard Kipling, who used it in his Barrack Room Poems, 1918.