Posted by Guy on August 24, 2002
In Reply to: Re: It's "Middling" posted by ESC on August 15, 2002
: : : Anyone know the origin of the phrase "Fair To Midland"? example: when one asks "How are you doing? - I'm Fair To Midland"
: : : (if you know and can e-mail it to me - that would be great! - firstname.lastname@example.org)
: : When people speak without mumbling, they pronounce that expression "Fair to middlin'. "Middlin'"--or "middling" -- means average or medium; in the middle range.
: A couple of items from the archives:
: This from a July 2000 discussion: The word "middling" meaning of average size, mediocre size or quality, etc., dates from about 1550.
: FAIR TO MIDDLIN' -- "fair to middlin', adj. Just so-so. Not so hot." "Southern Stuff: Down-home Talk and Bodacious Lore from Deep in the Heart of Dixie" by Mildred Jordan Brooks (Avon Books, New York, 1992).
I cannot prove this, but I have been told by old farmers from rural Texas, that the phrase actually expresses "good, clear, great, as in clear skies and weather," not "so-so." They say it originally meant, "The weather is so nice and clear you can see all the way from here to Midland" (Midland, Texas, that is).