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Sink or swim

Posted by ESC on September 18, 2001

In Reply to: Acid test posted by Q on September 17, 2001

: : : The origin is close but not exact. A specific combination of acids call aqua regia is used to test for gold. It is the only combination which will react to gold. It is made up of hydrochloric and nitric acids.

: : How about this...
: : ACID TEST - "meaning a sternly critical examination, one designed to reveal even the slightest flaw, comes from the use of nitric acid to test gold. Inferior metals may be decomposed by the acid - but not gold." Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).

: I'm back and safe. My office is only 5 blocks from the devastation. It's eerie down here today. I witnessed the planes and the collapse from the street running toward my office. Fortunately our staff and facility was not harmed.

: Anyway, I've also heard of a hybrid version "Give it the Litmus Test". As in Litmus paper testing. (Blue litmus paper turns red in the presence of an acid. Red litmus paper turns blue in the presence of a base). In business, the phrase applies to a black or white result (eg: a doll marketed by hype. People will either buy it and fall for the fad or not. The company doesn't expect a gray area of sales).---lots of colors in this explanation.
: Here's another --"Sink or swim".

I'm glad you're safe.

SINK OR SWIM -- "Succeed or fail, mainly according to the competence and diligence of your own effort. In the 14th century and for some time thereafter it was 'float or sink,' probably reflecting the fact that few people learned to swim then and also reflecting a stronger role for fate in one's success or failure. Chaucer had 'flete or sinke' in 'The Compleynte until Pite' (c. 1368), Thomas Starkey's 'England in the Reign of Henry the Eight' says: 'They care not (as hyt ys commynly sayd) 'whether they synke or swyme.'" From The Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).