Posted by R. Berg on June 19, 2001
In Reply to: Raked over the coals posted by ESC on June 19, 2001
: : : can someone tell me how old the phrase "raked over the coals" is? Getting desperate... thanks for any help
: : : Linda
: : The Oxford English Dict. has "'To haul, call (obsolete: fetch, bring) over the coals': to call to account and convict, to reprimand, call to task: originally in reference to the treatment of heretics." Earliest example given is from 1565: "S. Augustine, that knewe best how to fetche an heretike ouer the coles."
: "The Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985) has the same example from 1565 and attributes it to William Fulke's "A Confutation."
The OED, obviously Rogers's source, has that attribution, too.