Posted by ESC on July 02, 2005
In Reply to: Common idioms? posted by mohammad on July 02, 2005
: Would you please tell me if these idioms are common and Americans use frequently
: at the eleventh hour,
: at sixes and sevens,
: eat one,s cake and have it too,
: put that in your pipe and smoke it (what does it mean)?
Yes, they are all common. I'd say that No. 3 is most common. All of the phrases have been previously discussed. Search the archives under "sixes sevens" for a discussion of that one. I don't think we came to a conclusion on the origin.
For your convenience, I've search the archives and will paste in information on the others. To view the previous discussions, search under "cake eat" "pipe smoke" and "eleventh hour."
ELEVENTH HOUR - "Late; shortly before an anticipated event. Matthew's parable of the laborers in the vineyard (20: 2-16) has the men hired at the eleventh hour being paid as much as the ones hired early in the morning, even though the eleventh-hour people only worked for an hour. From this sense of being barely in time to receive some benefit comes the concept of time running out." " From The Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).
"You can't have your cake and eat it too -- One can't use something up and still have it to enjoy. This proverb was recorded in the book of proverbs by John Heywood in 1546, and is first attested in the United States in the 1742 'Colonial Records of Georgia' in 'Original Papers, 1735-1752.' The adage is found in varying forms: You can't eat your cake and have it too. You can't have everything and eat it too; Eat your cake and have the crumbs in bed with you, etc. ..." From Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).
PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT -- "Make what you can of what I've just said!; Digest that, if you can!; Put up with (or tolerate) that -- if you can!; since early C19. Peake, 1824; Dickens in 'Pickwick Papers'; 'Ingoldsby' Barham: Miss Mary Braddon (1837-1915), the now forgotten bestseller of late C19...It's a fact worth noting: that, despite its continuous currency and continual - indeed, constant - use, very little attention has been paid to this phrase, which is, I'd say, rather more of a c.p. (catchphrase) than of a proverbial saying. And, by the way, it derives from the very widely held, not entirely erroneous, belief that pipe-smoking and meditation go together..." From Dictionary of Catch Phrases: American and British, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day by Eric Partridge, updated and edited by Paul Beal, Scarborough House, Lanham, Md., 1992).