Calling all Smarty Pants|
Doug Orme: Calling All Smarty Pants!
Ok folks, I'm a teacher of English as a Second language, and I'm doing a lesson on food based idioms. They are easy enough to teach, but, the question is where did the following come from?
that's the way the cookie crumbles
bringing home the bacon
with egg on one's face
the apple of her/his eye
a piece of cake
the big cheese
the top banana
nuttier than a fruit cake
spill the beans
full of beans
dropped like a hot potato (potatoe for Quail fans)
no use crying over spilt milk
to bear fruit (ie. profitable, worthwhile venture)
food for thought
couldn't cut the mustard
Simple, everyday idioms, I'm sure you'll agree.
So, here's your chance to help me and my students. I'm in Japan, and so don't have access to my trusty OED. Please post your replies to the group, and drop me an email as well.Thanks in advance.
Ed Dienes: I got the following from a book titled "Why You Say It" by Webb Garrison.
"Bring home the bacon" - term derived from county fairs in America. Chasing and cathing a greased pig was usually awarded with cash which was put up by local merchants. "The bacan" was already in use as a label for a prize of any sort. With a pig as the target, the animal's catcher was able to "bring home the bacon" in a special sense.
"Apple of one's eye" - Round Pippin apples grown in early Israel reminded some folk of the pupil of an eye leading the vernacular comparisons between the two objects. When this usage appeared in Scripture, it probably indicated something like "the apple-shaped organ that we see in the middle of an eye".
"Top banana" - Tens of thousands of persons are believed to have attended a long-running burlesque in New York. Its crowd-pleasing finale revolved about a bevy of girls whose gyrations led them gradually to form what seemed at a distance to be a huge bunch of bananas. A favorite performer was dead center at the top of the bunch when the bananas ceased to move. It was this head of a burlesque troupe, says tradition, who caused us to laud any outstanding leader or wielder of unquestioned authority as a "top banana".
"Spill the beans" - In Greek times, secret voting was usually done by placing white beans in a container for a favored candidate. Brown or black beans constituted negative votes. Only officials were supposed to know how many of these were cast. Occasionally, a clumsy voter knocked over the container and disclosed its contents. It was embarrassing to "spill the beans" in this literal sense.
"Full of beans" - Without solid evidence to back the belief, veteran horsemen were sure that beans consitituted a unique kind of horse feed. An animal regularly fed on them was noticeably more frisky and energetic. From that... any human seeming to have boundless energy was compared with ahorse that was full of pep.
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