Posted by ESC on September 11, 2001
In Reply to: Nineteen to the dozen posted by James Briggs on September 11, 2001
: I'm on holiday in the States at the moment, but I've just accessed the site and seen the unanswered request for 'ninteen to the dozen'. This is a very British saying. Origin:
: Dozen: When going nineteen to the dozen something or someone is going at breakneck speed. The origin here is one of the nicest that I have come across. It goes back to the time of the Cornish tin and copper mines. These mines were often hit by floods. In the 18th century coal powered, steam driven pumps were installed to clear the water. When working maximally the pumps could clear nineteen thousand gallons of water for every twelve bushels of coal.
In the U.S., we say "hitting it a lick."