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Re: To blue-pencil

Posted by Smokey Stover on August 17, 2005

In Reply to: Re: To play hookey posted by James Briggs on August 15, 2005

: : : : : I need to know the idiomatic meaning of the following expressions:
: : : : : Jeremiah
: : : : : to play hooky
: : : : : to blue pencil
: : : : : I thank you in advance

: : : : Jeremiah is from the Bible (see No. 2, Merriam-Webster):

: : : : Main Entry: Jer·e·mi·ah
: : : : Pronunciation: -'mI-&
: : : : Function: noun
: : : : Etymology: Late Latin Jeremias, from Greek Hieremias, from Hebrew YirmeyAh
: : : : 1 : a major Hebrew prophet of the 6th and 7th centuries B.C.
: : : : 2 : one who is pessimistic about the present and foresees a calamitous future
: : : : 3 : a prophetic book of canonical Jewish and Christian Scripture -- see BIBLE table

: : : : "Blue pencil" is to edit or correct something. Editors traditionally used a blue pencil. I am not sure why. Maybe to stand out from the white paper/black ink.

: : : Hooky -- see the archives: http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/6/messages/773.html

: : I was surprised to see the spelling "hookie" in the linked message. But then, I was also surprised to see the spelling "hooky." All the citations in the OED, up to the 1950s, spell it "hookey," which is how I've always spelled it. SS

: A blue pencil was the way letters and other correspondence were censored during WW2 in Britain, including from the forces overseas.

Like Dr. Briggs, I thought that to blue-pencil something was to edit it out, although not always for security reasons. It used to be done to remove naughty words. SS