Throwback Thursday

The year on this photo gives it away. This is Rhonda and me on a lake cruise on Lake Mead near Las Vegas on the Arizona Border. This was the second time I had visited Vegas and been to Hoover Dam. It’s a lovely place and everyone should go at least once.

Throwback Thursday is one of over 1,000 entries in my new book, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions, in its final look over before early release. In this one I have a lot of newer phrases identified, plus lots more old ones. Here’s the entry:

Throwback Thursday

This is a term used for a modern trend by users of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram when posting or reposting old photos. According to an article in Sports Illustrated Magazine, August 22, 2013,  ‘From Hardwood to Hashtag: How NBA Culture Gave Rise to Throwback Thursday the term was coined on a blog named ‘Nice Kicks’ about sneakers in 2006.

Stay tuned for my announcement of the early release date!

Where did the derogatory term “Shameless hussy” come from?

Here is another example of what to expect in my Volume II of Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions to be released on October 1:

Shameless hussy

A hussy is defined as an impudent, brazen of immoral woman, and has been in English since 1520. Oddly enough, it derived from the Middle English huswif from which housewife came. In 1594, In The Historie of Ane Nobil and Walieand Sqviel, William Meldrum by Sir David Lyndesay of the Mont had the following on page 531:

“A nasty hussy puts stale into the mashing- and the ale burns the brains.”

Gradually, the definition of hussy was enlarged to apply to any girl, and had lost most of the derogatory connotation by the mid-18th century without prefacing it with an unmistakable nasty word. The earliest use of ‘shameless’ with it to emphasize the original meaning of the term appeared in 1791 in The Busy Body, a Comedy play by Susannah Centlivere, Act V, Scene vii:

“Hey-day! mighty fine! wife truly! mighty well! kissing, embracing — did ever any thing equal this? — Why, you shameless hussy! — But I won’t condescend to waste a word upon you.”

After this, hussy began to revert to mean an immoral woman, often with   Centlivere’s ‘shameless’ before it.

Not by any stretch of the imagination!

I have received most of the edits now on the second volume of Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions, from my editor, Kathy Barney, and the balance will quickly follow. I am staying busy incorporating the edits into the master manuscript, and all is on schedule for the promised October 1 launch.

In the meantime I have added a few extra entries along the way which I deemed worthy to be a part of this new massive work. One of those is “Not by any stretch of the imagination.” I am posting the entry below:

Not by any stretch of the imagination^ (or ‘by no stretch…’)

This old adage means that no matter how hard one tries, it would be difficult to accept something. A major online dictionary places the origin of ‘by any stretch’ at late 1700s.  The idea of stretching one’s imagination, however, goes back many years earlier, to the Friday, 13 April 1729 issue of the London publication, The  Spectator, in which the following appeared on the front page:

“The Gentleman was as diligent to do Juftice to his fine Parts, as the Lady to her beauteous Form: You might fee his Imagination on the Stretch to find out fomething uncommon, and what they call bright, to entertain her; while fhe writhed her felf into as many different Poftures to engage him.”

In a 1793 publication of The Plays of William Shakespeare, a notation from ‘The Historical Account from the English Stage, Vol. II’ by Malone contains the following with a negative connotation:

“It appears that when Pericles was originally performed, the theatres were furnished with  no  such apparatus as  by any stretch of the imagination could be suppofed to present either a sea, or a ship…”                                                                                                                                    

They got it wrong!

This exciting second volume of phrase origins and meanings will be released on October 1, 2016. Be watching Amazon at that time!:

I promised to post some entries from my upcoming Second Volume of Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions. As I have repeatedly stated, many expressions have been wrongly credited in popular dictionaries and online sources. Here is one example which is in the new book:

Beats me^

This old idiom means “I have no idea.” In 1918, Edgar Rice Burroughs is often credited for first using it in The Land That Time Forgot, Chapter 4:

“‘Flowering shrubs don’t thrive in the subterranean caverns from which geysers spring,’ suggested Bradley. Olson shook his head. ‘It beats me,’ he said.”

Again, wrong! It was in use figuratively as early as 1824 on page 57, in Douglas, A Tragedy, by John Home, Reduced to Scottish Rhyme, Chiefly the Broad Buchan Dialect:

 Norv. Weel, I am in a primonirie now— ‘Completely beats me how I’m to get through.’”

First peek at the new book front!

In just over three months the new Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions Volume II containing over 1,000 brand new entries will be released. It is with the editor being polished up, and today I am posting the first look at the front cover! It has many hundred new Americanisms, a few hundred British idioms, and quite a few which are exclusively used in Australia and New Zealand. It has numerous proverbs and quotes not included in the original or its revisions, and even a few oxymorons which have become cliche. Stay tuned to my blog for updates.

COMPREHENSIVE COVER 6-4-16b.jpg

Good news!

The first draft draft of Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions, Volume II is complete, and the manuscript has been sent to the editor. This process will take a couple of months, then a proof will be ordered. That will be carefully examined, and be ready for release by the predetermined  date of 1 October. This work has been just as carefully planned and researched as the first book, and has many cross references to the original, and other entries in this new one. The two volumes have been designed to compliment and  go ‘hand in hand’ with each other. Together they will be like an encyclopedia of phrase meanings and origins, the like of which has never been written before. This one takes a few new twists, though. It contains more national and local colloquialisms than the original. It has hundreds of British sayings and quite a few which are native only to Australia and New Zealand. And if you live in rural America, ‘we’ve got you covered’ there also. The cover is slightly altered and I will be posting a picture later. And I’ve added some cliche oxymorons!

In the meantime, check out the original on our website at stclairpublications.co or Amazzon sites worldwide. Whatever you do, get the first volume first. Come back to this blog soon for examples on some of  what to expect!

New Book Speeding Toward Completion

As progress speeds toward completion of the second volume of Most Comprehensive Origins of Clichés, Proverbs, and Figurative Expressions, I want to emphasize the fact that everyone needs the first volume. They go together “like two peas in a pod,” a saying which has been with us in English since 1580, found in the original volume. This book has sold thousands of copies and is in several college libraries. It has been given accolades by librarians, professors, editors, authors, and others. It is available at stclairpublications.com and on Amazon sites worldwide.

 
Stan St Clair's photo.

Have you ever drawn a blank?

Have you ever been asked a difficult question and you just ‘drew a blank’? Most of us have, so ‘Don’t feel like the lone ranger’ Have you ever wondered where that metaphoric expression originated and how it came to be used the way it is today?

In my best-selling reference book, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches. Proverbs and Figurative Expressions, which is in numerous public and university libraries across America, I listed over 1500 expressions and located the most likely origins, most with early citations, and many of which I was able to prove other researchers findings were not correct. ‘Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger is just one of those. But after the publication, and even two revisions of that book, I found so many more which really need to be explained, many of which were also incorrect in some other well respected and much used sources. One that was very interesting was ‘Draw a blank.’ Here is a sneak preview from my upcoming Volume II of Most Comprehensive Origins… to be released this October:

Draw a blank                                                                                                                                           

This is a very old idiom in the English language, stemming from British lotteries set up in Tudor England under Elizabeth I in 1567. Tickets with the names of purchasers were put into a ‘lot pot’. Another pot held slips of paper, some with prizes written on them, others blank. A name would be drawn, then a paper from the prize pot. Those who drew the blank papers were said to have ‘drawn a blank.’

Lotteries continued and in July, 1786, The Scotts Magazine, in ‘Parliament: Commons on the Greenland Fishery’ uses the term about the lottery:

“…his lot was equal to a 20,000 L prize in the lottery; whilst another, who chanced to fail of success, was like a man who drew a blank.

This usage continued through the 19th century, and into the 20th. The phrase, however, had been in print even earlier, in A Commentary upon the Fourth Book of Moses, Called Numbers by Simon, Lord Bishop of Ely, 1699, page 193:

“Then mixing all these in an Urn, he nad them come and draw: And. to every one who drew a Schedule, that had the Name of Elder in it, he said, God hath sanctified thee but to him that drew a Blank, he said, God hath not chosen thee.”

In Glenlonely; or, The Daemon Friend, Volume 3 by William Henry De Merle, 1839, the phrase is used figuratively of Sir Bruce Crawford’s quest for marriage (all marriage being ‘a lottery’ was voiced by Queen Victoria) on page 171:

“About three years after his divorce, he once more decided on the lottery of marriage: in England he had drawn a blank; in France he was more fortunate. Miss St. Clair was all that could add to the happiness of man; but, alas! how rarely does it happen that they who win the purest gems are allowed to wear them long…”

Note: another metaphor was employed in speaking of women as ‘the purest gems’, and being married as ‘wearing them’.

It was the 1930s before ‘draw a blank’ came into common figurative use. In Princeton Alumni Weekly, April 20, 1937 in ‘The Thumbnail Sketch’, number 130 by H.G. Murray on page 11:

“This after the college police and town force had drawn a blank. Ned simply strolled around the purlieus of the burgh, saw his suit on a mucker, and in the parlance of the local press, ‘apprehended the criminal.’”

2 Most Comprehensive cover

Hard at work

I’ve not done much on blog entries lately. That’s because it is a busy time. First, I’ve been busy taking and completing orders on the website, largely for copies of Gerald Sinclair’s factual historic tome, The Enigmatic Sinclairs, Volume One, but others as well; authors order this time of year for book signings and Christmas presents. Most books are drop shipped from the printer, but some are shipped out from here, and some are sold locally, particularly my own books. Which brings me to my other point. I have also been hard at work on a second volume of Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and FIgurative Expressions. My goal is to have 1000 new entries in this one. But it will not be ready for a year or so, and the first volume is a must before getting this one. My good friend in England, Niven Sinclair, has sent me hundreds of British sayings from time to time, and my radio friend, Kelly Marlow, who uses the book on-air at least twice a month, reading and encouraging others to call in (he did this of his own free will at no cost because he is so into the book) is also getting me Americanisms not in the first one. Then every day I manage to come up with several on my own. I love this quest so much that I lose track of time while working on it. I have been surprised at the number once again which major sources came up with incorrect earliest origins for. And the origin of one of them, ‘Bound and determined‘, seemed so ‘shrouded in mystery’ that it seemed no one else had ‘taken a stab’ at it. I spent a lot of time on it and believe I may have unlocked that mystery. I have 121 of the phrases completed, and if all goes well, this new book should be ready within the next year! In the meantime, if you haven’t done so yet, get your copy of the book being used by numerous authors, teachers, ministers and public speakers, (and plenty of average folks) which is in severals college libraries across the country and has sold around the globe. If you have yours, get a copy or three for gifts! Get it at St. Clair Publications site or any Amazon site in the US, Canada, Europe or India.

The Enigmatic Sinclairs Volume 1

Some of my friends may have noticed that I have not been posting on this blog lately. There is a huge reason for this. I have been working very closely with Australian authors Gerald Sinclair and Rondo BB Me on final preparations for the launch of their exciting historical tome, The Enigmatic Sinclairs, Volume One. This book has taken many long years of research and a large number of contributing individuals to insure historic accuracy on a subject about which much speculation has been printed, especially since Dan Brown’s best seller, The DaVinci Code. Separating fact from conjecture and legend about historic events which carved out the history of Scotland and England and even the forming of our United States, all of which involved members of the noble Sinclair/St. Clair Clan, is no easy pursuit.

Two weeks from today, Gerald Sinclair will be launching this book at Rosslyn Book Store in Roslin, Scotland, at which time the book will become available. It may be purchased there, on the St. Clair website, stclairpublications,com, and on Amazon sites around the globe. Upon examination, Amazon recognized this extraordinary work One of the Best Books of 2015 so far. 

Don’t miss it when it is released! Below is a synopsis and a cover photo.

Enigmatic Sinclairs – a definitive guide to Sinclairs in Scotland, is based purely on primary source evidence garnered over 11 years painstaking research, supplemented by a few quotes from rigorous historians (a rarity) such as Geoffrey Barrow and those who worked with him. Author’s comments are at an absolute minimum as we found such a wealth of material the facts in chronological order present their own narrative.

Prof Hugh Montgomery PhD Dipl CL.Ing Com FSA Scot in his foreword says “It is such a pleasure to see authors produce a book based entirely on original research and using original sources without the myths and tall tales told by so many when writing their family history ……. I believe this will become one of the foremost sources and examples to future family historians of how to produce a family history”

Malcom of Caithness in his foreword says “book is such a useful breath of fresh air as they have taken endless trouble to go back to primary sources for evidence and have shattered a lot more myths in doing do, but have also discovered fascinating verifiable truths about the Sinclairs hitherto unpublished……..they have sought to follow those famous words carved in stone on an architrave in Rosslyn Chapel built by my ancestor , the first Sinclair Earl of Caithness, in the mid – fourteen hundreds “Truth conquers all”
This 461 page volume covers from first recorded Sinclair presence in Scotland to just after end of the 15th Century and is in 3 parts
Part A The Kings of Scotland – 4 chapters
Part B The de Moreville Family to Sir Alan of Galloway – 1 Chapter
Part C The Sinclairs – 3 Chapters c1160 – 1296; 1296 -1371; 1371 -1507