Posted by Eddie on October 11, 2004
I was reading a book on Norse mythology, and came across a phrase I was not sure the meaning of. The phrase is "Bearing away the palm (of wit)". It had no meaning I could derive from it's use, and on the Google link, there were only 53 listings for "Palm". One of them linked to these boards (several actually, but only one had the correct reference, http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/35/index.html).
This explains the meaning of the phrase, but I am still not able to find it's origin, it's original reason for being.
My source relates to why bears have no tails. The phrase is used: "In Europe the fox bears away the palm of wit from all other animals, so it is he who persuades the bear in Norse tales to sit with his tail in a hole in the ice till it is fast frozen in, and snaps short off when he tries to tug it out." Now I understand the phrase, but I don't know the origin.
Can anyone help?