2 obscure US sayings

Posted by Michael on August 26, 2002

In Reply to: 2 obscure US sayings posted by ESC on August 25, 2002

: : There are two US sayings, probably southern, which I'm at a loss as to their origin. Something overly tight is said to be " tighter than Dick's hatband". The other saying for something that is no longer in fashion or no longer believed, etc., is said to have "gone the way of fat Sam" Your guess is as good as mine on these.

: : ES

: Here's one theory.

: From Heavens to Betsy! and Other Curious Sayings by Charles Earle Funk : "as queer (or tight) as Dick's hatband -- Absurdly queer, or as the case may be, inordinately tight. The 'Dick' alluded to in this metaphor was Richard Cromwell, 'Lord protector' of England for a few months, September 1658 to May 1659. He had been nominated by his father, the powerful Oliver Cromwell, to succeed him in this high office, and was actually so proclaimed. But whereas the father had served, at least from the death of Charles I in 1649, as quasi-king of England, king in fact if not in name, Richard would gladly have accepted both title and crown, had not the army been hostile to such action and, indeed, to Richard, who was shortly dismissed from office. The crown was the 'hatband' in the saying, which was deemed a 'queer' adornment for the head of one so briefly in highest office, and too 'tight' for him to have worn in safety. (Let me add, however, this account is not accepted by the Oxford English Dictionary, though no better substitute is offered.)"

This may or may not have anything to do this the first phrase, but the use of words "Dick" and "hatband" seem to have a common denominator. Before the introduction of penicillin, men with gonorrhea would carry a catheter in their hatband for insertion at the proper moment as the inner opening of the urethra was blocked by scar tissue. This may make it practical that a hatband with a catheter would be tight. Just a thought to throw more confusion to the mix.