Wanna know origins of...

Posted by Gary Martin on January 27, 2002

In Reply to: Wanna know origins of... posted by Billoud Nicolas on January 27, 2002

: Can I trouble you to give me the origins of the following expressions: "to be caught red-handed"
: "shaggy-dog story"
: "to cudgel one's brains"
: "to have a whale of a time"
: "as dull as a ditch-water"
: "as red as a turkey-cock"
: "to knock someone sideways"
: "topsy-turvy"
: "mealy-mouthed"
: "the rag-tag and bobtail(of sth)"
: "the down-and-outs"
: "a smash-and-grab"
: "clap-trap"
: "a chicken-and-egg situation"
: "a moth-eaten idea"
: "to be all keyed up"
: "a rag-and-bone man"
: "a holier-than-though attitude"
: "to be nail-fellow-well-met"
: "a devil-may-care manner"
: "a hole-in-the-corner affair"
: "a cock-and-bull story"
: "to get down to the nitty-gritty"
: "to give someone the heebie-jeebies"
: "to upset someone's apple-cart"
: "to be someone's blue-eyed boy"
: "to be bone-headed from the neck up"
: "a Jekyll-and-Hyde team"
: "a Johnny-come-lately convent"
: "to grin and bear it"
: "that's torn it"
: "to have it both ways"

That's a long list. I can't help with many of them. The cock and bull story may have orignated with Richard Bentley's 'Royal Lecture' - " That cocks and bulls might discourse...", although it is likely that the phrase was in common use then and Bentley just borrowed it. I used to spend time in Stony Stratford, in North Buckinghamshire. The two coaching inns in the town, the Cock and the Bull, were used as changeover points for coach travellers between London and Birmingham (aka the Celestial City). The locals say that the phrase originated there.

Hail (not nail) fellow well met sounds Shakesperian. Old Bill used 'well met' dozens of times, although I can't find a HFWM in any of the plays.

A Johnny-come-lately convent is a nunnery of the Little Sisters of Transvestism, an enigmatic order that accepts male nuns.