Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Golly, The Life of Riley Sure is A Pipe Dream



I recently had a giggle. Sorting through the latest laundry pile and matching up the socks, I found a hole in one pair. With my neice at my side, I said, "Well, I guess I will throw these out, I don't enjoy darning socks". She had no clue what I was talking about. "Darning socks? Auntie, did you just swear?". 

So it occurred to me that I am of a generation that still uses words and phrases of old and was curious as to what else I could find that might mystify the young. And for those of you who do not know what 'darning socks' means, it refers to mending, sewing, fixing the holes in your socks!

Can you guess what these might mean? Answers at the bottom.


1. Dead as a doornail.
2. Put up your dukes.
3. Hanky Panky.
4. The Life of Riley
5. Ballyhoo
6. Golly/Gosh
7. Heck
8. Scot free
9. Willy Nilly
10. Pipe Dream

1. Before the days of electrical doorbells, a metal knocker was nailed to the front of the door. To announce yourself, you had to pound the knocker...sometimes many times to be heard. The nail holding the knocker received quite a lot of wear and tear, eventually falling out. Today, anything that is withered, failed or is considered hopeless is 'dead as a doornail'.

2. A challenge to fight. Old time duelers would nickname their fists, usually referring to their class titles. ie: The Duke of York referred to his fists as the dukes of York, the term eventually being shortened to 'dukes'.
3. Refers to anyone fooling around, in a sexual sense or an underhanded business deal. Originally from magicians who used to wave hankies during their acts to misdirect attention.

4. A television show from the 1950s, also further back to the 1880s. From a song about a Mr. Reilly who imagined what life would be like if he hit it rich in the Californian gold rush.

5. To make a big fuss over nothing. Originally coming from Ballyhooly, Ireland where residents tended to argue about everything, as if the world was ending. The 'ly' ending was eventually dropped when it arrived in America.

6. In the past it wasn't polite to use the exclamation 'God!' Instead people said Golly! or Gosh!

7.  The exclamation 'Heck' was sometimes used instead of 'Hell', to avoid cussing.

8. Scot was an old word for payment, it has nothing to do with Scotland. If you went scot free, you did not pay.

9. This phrase is believed to be derived from the old words will-ye, nill-ye (or will-he, nill- he) meaning whether you want to or not.

10.  Any idea that is unique or bizarre. Originally it came from the use of smoking Opium through a pipe and causing hallucinations. 
 


1 comment:

Anastasia said...

I love things like that! I work the graveyard shift, and I found its called that because when people would just have lead poisoning and not bed dead, they would hire someone to sit in the graveyard next to the grave to make sure the person didn't wake up.