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Leaning to the Kerry side

Posted by Shae on February 25, 2005

In Reply to: Re: "Leaning towards Fisher's" posted by ESC on February 24, 2005

: : : My mother used this term all the time when I was a kid. I searched for the phrase "Leaning towards Fisher's" and several permutations (fishers vs. fisher's, toward, to, towards, etc.) with no success on Google and the OED.

: : : I found only one reference, and I've corresponded with her; she's at Penn State, and also has no ideas as to the origins. My mother is from central Pennsylvania (Defiance, PA), and says it was common to the area. I don't suppose it was common to anywhere else.

: : : I doubt anything dramatic will come up, but if anyone has any information as to the origins of this phrase, I'd appreciate it. Thanks!

: : Also, there is a Fisher's Hill in the Shenandoah Valley in VA where a somewhat famous battle took place during the Civil War. And there is a famous grist mill (c. 1830) located in Pennsylvania named Fisher's Mill.

: LEAN TOWARD JESUS/FISHER'S/ PERKIN'S - Lean towards Jesus -- "A carpenter's expression for something slanted, out of plumb." From the Mountain Range chapter of "Facts on File Dictionary of American Regionalisms" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 2000). Page 385.

: In a second reference, there is a long section about the verb "lean." One meaning is "to depart hurriedly" as in "lean for home." But the meaning we seek is: in (phrases) "lean toward Jones's," also New England "lean towards Sawyer's" and variations. To slant, tilt, be out of plumb. To lean towards Fisher's. Pennsylvania. Other forms: Perkin's, Cooper's, Schoonover's. "Dictionary of American Regional English," Volume III, I-O, by Frederic G. Cassidy and Joan Houston Hall (1996, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., and London, England). Page 317.

In Ireland,'Leaning to the Kerry side' means that something is not quite right. It's out of kilter. Sometimes it's used to describe a person who has over-imbibed the national beverage. Why Kerry? Well, you've heard of 'Irish' jokes. The Irish tell 'Kerry' jokes about natives of Co. Kerry. 'Did you hear about about the Kerryman who . . . etc.' Kerry people have jokes about people from Lyracrumpaun (a Co. Kerry village).