Posted by Richard Bradley on April 24, 2007
In Reply to: Pick the bones out of that posted by Stephen P on April 20, 2007
: "Pick the bones out of that"
: I'm an editor based in Munich and have been searching for a good definition and origin of this phrase (above) - it seems to be becoming increasingly popular (I even found it a couple of times in Hansard).
: Does anyone have any ideas? Thanks in advance!
Where I come from, in Derbyshire, UK, it is a phrase that is used in relation to coughing and spitting.
I will try not to be too gross here.
When a person has coughed up a considerable amount of phlegm we say "pick the bones out of that" meaning that phlegm was very big and I think it should have stayed inside my body. I may have inadvertantly coughed up something I shouldn't have.
"Cough up a lung"
"Cough up a kidney"
"Pick the lumps out of that"
"That one had lumps in it"
I come from a mining town and the miners were always coughing up coal dust etc so maybe that is where it comes from.