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Histories Mysteries

Posted by R. Berg on February 08, 2001

In Reply to: Histories Mysteries posted by Shawn on February 08, 2001

: I'm trying to fin the origin for a few sayings and stories that supposedly came from 14th or 15th century England.
: Here are a couple... (if you can help me with any of these, please personally email me at
: [email protected])

: Did "graveyard shift" originate when scrach marks were found inside coffins that had been dug up, so they tied a string to the "dead" persons hand and lead it up to the surface. Someone had to stay there all night to see if they rang the bell?

: "upper crust"
: poor people were given the burnt bottom of bread, middle class was given the middle, and high class (upper class) was given the "uper crust" because it was considered the best part of the bread.

I found just a little information about your first question. Will post here to save others the trouble of looking up the same thing. Webster's Unabridged, 1934, restricts the term "graveyard shift" to mining-it must have spread to other industries later-and says that shift is also called the dying shift. A connection with 14th-century England is questionable because eight-hour work shifts are a lot more recent than that. Some quotations from 19th-century writers, given to illustrate the word "shift" in the Oxford English Dictionary, mention two shifts a day, 12 hours each. The Dictionary of American Slang says "graveyard shift" refers to "the ghostly hour of employment."