Here we are again, on a lovely Sunday night. Once more I had a busy weekend. I guess that is just par for the course at this point. Hmmm, I didn’t do that one when I did the “Ps.” Guess I can’t get them all! I do seem to be adjusting to this hectic weekend pace, I guess we can get used to anything 🙂
So on to “S.”
safe as houses: to be completely safe and secure. I have always wondered about this one. I mean, I do feel safe in a house during, say, a thunderstorm; but still an odd saying overall. This particular phrase came from our friends in Britain, and from a time period when safe was more commonly used to mean certainty rather than our current usage, with safe meaning security. When picking a simile, one does tend to be over the top; so large and conspicuous houses were an easy fit.
No uncertainty here, guv’nor,” answered one of his captors. “You’re booked, safe as houses.
James Friswell, Out & About, 1860
one sandwich short of a picnic: an amusing way to indicate that someone is not all that smart. There are quite a few phrases that use ‘X is short of Y,’
with the meaning that someone is not clever. I rather like this one, however, it just sounds funny. It also comes from across the pond, with the first noted usage in 1987 in BBC’s Lenny Henry Christmas Special.
scarper: to depart hurriedly. I have read this one before, where a character would scarper off, but I didn’t think it would be a cliché, as it was one word versus an actual phrase. I do seem to be picking ones for my own enjoyment today, as I also find the idea of anyone scarpering completely hilarious 🙂 The word comes from Italian word ‘scappare’, meaning to escape.
He must hook it before ‘day-light does appear’, and then scarper by the back door.
Swell’s Night Guide, 1846
season of mists and mellow fruits: a lovely, wordy way of saying autumn. Once more, this comes from Britain, in the 1820s. British poet John Keats used the phrase:
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
To Autumn, 1820