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Re: Ne'er cast a clout till May be out

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on June 03, 2007

In Reply to: Re: Ne'er cast a clout till May be out posted by Gary Martin on June 02, 2007

: : Though the verdict seems to be unanimous in that "clout" refers to clothing, is there not a possibility that "casting a clout" does, in fact, refer to turning of the soil - "clout / clod"? This would give us a meaning of "Don't turn the soil until the May blossom can be seen", which would impart important agricultural information, as opposed to being a phrase concerned with when to take off or discard items of clothing, which should be fairly obvious.

: That's certainly a possibility. I'd say that 'cast' seems more a more appropriate verb for the removal of clothing than it does for the turning of soil.

Unlikely. It appears to be a translation of a Spanish proverb which exists in various forms, e.g.:
Para mayo, guarda el sayo (During May, keep your coat on)
Hasta mayo, no te quites el sayo (Until May, don't take your coat off)
En mayo, no te quites el sayo (In May, don't take your coat off)
En mayo, busca la vieja el sayo (In May, the old woman goes looking for her coat)
Hasta el cuarenta de mayo no te quites el sayo. (Until the 40th of May, don't take your coat off)
The last two are a little obscure in detail but the general drift is clear; it's all about clothes. NB that "mayo" in Spanish is definitely the month; may-blossom in Spanish is called somethign quite different. (VSD)