Posted by Victoria S Dennis on November 24, 2005
In Reply to: Whale of a time, brass, old tom posted by Richard on November 23, 2005
: where do the phrases "having a whale of a time" and the terms "brass" and "old tom", come from?
: thanks for your help.
- The blue whale being the biggest creature on earth, a "whale of" anything is "a large amount of" it. As well as "whale of a time" people used to say "a whale of a lot" and "a whale of a job". It's US slang from around 1910.
- Brass is an alloy of copper with tin or zinc.
- "Old Tom" was an 18th and 19th century style of gin, sweeter than modern gin. It's not sold any more in Britain and America, though i'm told that the State Distillery of Finland make it, becuase the Lapps like it.
- And, Rich, if you meant "brass" or "old tom" in any other sense, please say so! Context is all, we keep saying so on this site... (VSD)