Posted by James Briggs on November 09, 2003
In Reply to: Anybody to help me out ? posted by Michael on November 09, 2003
: Hello everyone,
: I am French, quite fluent in US English after 10 years spent in California. However, I am reading at this time Angels Flight from Michael Connelly, and there are some difficult expressions that I have a hard times to fully understand. Here they are :
: -Reach into the deck at any place and still pull the race card.
: -We really got our t i t in the wringer this time.
: -Those guys didn't do jack before getting the hook.
: -They back the tortoise before the hare any day of the week.
: -rank and file
: -it's your neck of the woods
: -sounds like a slam dunk
: Thanks for your help, Michael
I can help with some:
This is an example of a Fossil word in which an old meaning has been preserved in only one or two special sayings. Short shrift is another. In the case of neck the ancestor words in Old Breton (cnoch) and Old High German (hnack) both had a meaning of "hill" or "summit". This sense has been lost in all other uses of the word neck.
The tortoise and the hare is a fable, possibly Aesop, where the slow but steady tortoise beats the erractic hare in a race.
'Rank and file' is military in origin, whereby the ordinary soldiers paraded in 'ranks and files'. A bit like columns and rows in a spreadsheet. Thus, ordinary people were charcterised as those that stood in these ranks, etc