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King's X

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on February 26, 2009 at 08:34

In Reply to: King's X posted by Teresa on February 26, 2009 at 07:11:

: Where did the phrase 'King's X' come from? My husband says it to mean 'stop' go no further with that'. I have read that some people that that it means to cross your fingers. I want to know about the meaning and origin of what my husband uses it for.

King's Cross has been the name of a place in North London since 1830, when a monument to King George IV was built there. The actual "king's cross" is long gone, but the name is preserved in the name of the major railway terminus built there in 1852. Any use of this specific place-name can be no older than that. However, it has been absorbed into the very ancient system of children's "truce terms" - the phrase, sometimes with an accompanying gesture, that children use to gain respite in a game. There is a huge variety of these in Britain, mostly (but by no means all) variants on eight basic types: "fains", "barley" (typically accompanied b the holding up of the thumb), "keys", "skinch" "scribs", "cree" "kings" and "crosses" (accompanied by crossing the fingers"). ("Pax" is used by middle-and-upper class children who go to fee-paying schools; unlike the others it is not a dialect term.) So it seems that your husband comes from some region where the terms "kings" and "crosses" overlapped. If he is of British origin one would assume that it was the existence of the famous railway station that made it natural to merge them into one; but the Dictionary of American Regional English records the use of "kings cruse" (in an adult fight) as early as 1778. See wiki/Truce_terms