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 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!

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

Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches New Limited Time Offer

My unique phrase origin book, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and FIgurative Expressions was released originally in March, 2013, and the paperback version has been revised twice since then, adding about 100 new entries. It has been ordered by numerous libraries and has become a favorite of authors, ministers,teachers and public speakers, as well as countless everyday folk in seven countries where it has sold. It received remarkable reviews and praise from persons of all walks of life. It has 740 pages and delves deeper into the meanings, origins and changes of our everyday English expressions than any other book of its type. Check out the reviews on

Because sales this bookhave been so great  over the past few weeks, I have decided to make a limited time offer to my blog readers who order directly from my website at by Monday, December 14. Whether ordering for a gift or a personal copy, each copy will be personally autographed with a note to the person requested. After placing your order, simply send me an email at telling me the name to use.

Thank all of you for your interest in my work, and I wish you each a happy holiday season and a very prosperous 2016.

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.

Another Comic Strip Salutes a Proverb

As many of you know, I love reading the “intelligence page” (another cliche) of our local paper. Now that we’ve been subscribing for the past several months, I even glance at the small ones on the puzzle page. This morning The Born Loser, one of my favorite strips, had Thornapple saying to his wife, “They say an apple a day keeps the doctor a day, right?” Then he says, “So, what would happen if I ate two apples a day?”

His wife’s expression remained nonchalant as she replied, “You’d get diarrhea.”

The origin of this well-known proverb is found in Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions on page 25:

 apple a day keeps the doctor away, An

Reference to this was initially found in a Welsh folk proverb.”Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from eating his bread.” The phrase was first coined as we know it in the U.S. in 1913 by Elizabeth Wright in Rustic Speech and Folk-lore

“Ait a happle avore gwain to bed, An’ you’ll make the doctor beg his bread; or as the more popular version runs: An apple a day Keeps the doctor away.” 

Sales of this popular book continue each and every month, Get yours today at


Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

This saying goes back to a song by that title released in early 1964. A detailed entry is found on pages 315 and 316 of Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions.

Great reviews keep coming in on Amazon for this book. I am very grateful. Yesterday there were two new ones. One I was expecting because I had been told it was coming. The other one, like many of these reviews was totally “Out of the blue,” (page 413- from 1837). Both showed five out of five stars. I’m posting them here:

ByKathy A Barneyon June 16, 2015
Rarely a book like this comes along that becomes a staple, no, necessity, in your library. This book should be on your bedside table for fascinating reading and not just on your “bucket list” of things to do or get. Remember the game Trivial Pursuit? This is the embodiment of a published version of everything–and I mean everything–you need to know of the origins of everyday expressions that have become part of the fabric that make up the language of our society. I feel as if this book was written expressly for me, to my utter delight, as a trivia fan and a life-long knowledge hound! The author has done such a thorough job of researching, I would trust no other. Many of the expressions come as delightful surprises to me and provoke thoughts of the human language as it has evolved–or not! through the centuries.

Reading this book automatically makes you more interesting and knowledgeable than any other Joe or Josephine in the room and is a great ice breaker. Who knew you knew the origin of “living high on the hog?”

What surpised me the most is that these phrases are not as old or ancient as one would think. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly reccommed it to everybody and “strike while the iron is hot!”

CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
By Robelias Miller on June 16, 2015
As a review comment, I will copy for you the first paragraph of a 250-word email that I sent to the author of this book.

Dear Mr. St. Clair,
Your magnificent book “Most Comprehensive Origins of Clichés, Proverbs, and Figurative Expressions” was indeed a pleasure for me to read. It’s so thorough on those specific topics. I especially appreciate your massive bibliography, which indicates lots of detailed research work.

Note: I didn’t get the email from Mr. Miller,so I don’t know where he sent it, but I looked him up online and he is a retired Professional Editor, and I’m sending him a letter of thanks.

Rock, Country or Soul food?

Well, each year at this time I am drawn to the activities in my part of the world by the ever-present media heralding the advent of CMA Fest in nearby Nashville and Bonnaroo just a skip, hop and jump down the four lane at Manchester, a lot closer. All the biggies always grace the stages at these flings. Last night while Rhonda and I sat with our son-in-law and granddaughter watching our grandson play baseball, our daughter, a bank exec who was in Nashville at a conference, sent a text about how much she was enjoying CMA Fest (from a privileged seat), and the fact that Kenny Chesney was going onstage at that moment.

Meanwhile, a close friend was posting on facebook that he couldn’t wait to hit the farm this morning at Bonnaroo. There Billy Joel is headlining a practically all-star cast of great performers through the next few days.

Here in our little town the McMinnville Main Street Live is kicking off Friday night with a five-member boy band called Bueller bringing back the hard rock sounds of such eighties groups as Def Leppard, AC/DC, Guns and Roses and  Van Halen. Well, I heard enough of them when my sons were teens.

So, once again I’ll be content with other stuff. This Saturday we will be driving to Georgia to help celebrate my aunt’s 95th birthday, and finding a restaurant where we can get some great soul food, and we’ll also find time for church attendance and quality reading, also food for the soul..

What will you be doing? The choice is up to you. Many find themselves highly entertained by a copy of my book, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions. It is in a lot of libraries across America, and some colleges also chose to order one with no bidding or persuasion from me. I found  both a university in Arizona and one in Kentucky which have copies. Numerous folks have told me they used it in parties or gatherings, asking others for old sayings they wanted looked up. It’s also been used a lot on a local radio station in that respect.

Whatever you do, make it enjoyable and do it today. Remember, “Tomorrow never comes” (page 558, latest paperback version). Did you know that saying’s been around since 1826?


Family Circus Weighs in on Clichés

Our local Sunday paper featured a Family Circus cartoon in which the mother is on the phone. “After Mother’s Day I always find it difficult to get back down to earth,” she says. Standing at her side is her small son who pictures a space capsule floating from the heavens.

I immediately went to my book, Most Comprehensive Origins of Clichés, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions and looked up the old expression, “Down to Earth.” Here’s what’s recorded there:

Down to earth

Meaning practical and easy to understand for the everyday person, this cliché is from about the 1930s as no printed citation appears earlier than 1932. It most likely came into being as a result of the screenplay and motion picture that year, Down to Earth, by Homer Croy with screenplay by Edward Burke.    

At every book signing I have no matter how many of these books I take, I always manage to sell out. The recent Warren County Genealogical Society signing and the one at the Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival were no exceptions. I guess I just don’t order enough copies from my printer.

In the meantime, they sell extremely well on Amazon. You can order a copy there today if you haven’t already, either the latest version in paperback or the original on Kindle. Thank you all for reading my blog, and have a marvelous day!


Smart Phones are “The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread.”

It never ceases to amaze me all the things that smart phones can do! They can take the place of a host of articles from our past, if we so desire. Below is a partial list of the things they can replace:

1. Encyclopedia 2. Calculator 3. Date book  4. Calender 5. Weather Alert Radio                 6. Television 7. Camera  8. Video camera  9. VCR of DVD 10. E-book reader  11. Watch or clock 12. Radio 13. Computer 14. FAX machine 15 Record player 16. Recorder 17. Map 18. Tracking device 19 Address book 20. Closed circuit TV  21. Library 22. Magazines 23. Compass 24. Dictaphone 25. Telegraph  26. GPS 27. Oh, yes, some people even use it for a Telephone (or to text)! And there are many others.

The best (or greatest) thing since sliced bread is just one of the multitude of sayings found in my best-selling book, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions which you can order on your smart phone or other electronic gadget! You can even have it delivered there if you have the Kindle app. Get your copy today and you’ll be in high cotton! (that’s in there too!)


Second Revision of Most Comprehensive Origins is Out and the Best Ever!

When I started collecting cliches, proverbs, and sayings of all sorts in 2010, I could not conceive what the hobby would bring to the world. My first book of them On the Origin of the Cliches and Evolution of Idioms was released in 2011, and each year I have added to that collection in print. My first edition of Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions was released in March, 2013. From the beginning it has been my goal to make my work the most accurate of its type in print. I have striven to burst myths about the way that what we say and why came about. In a combination of formats, literally thousands of my cliche books have been sold worldwide.

I have found endorsements of my effort from most unexpected sources: from other authors and bloggers to doctors and ministers–not just in the US, but the UK as well.

Just a couple of days ago a gentleman did a review of it that I also didn’t expect, but it was surprisingly critical. He said that he was expecting interesting anecdotes about how words came into our vocabulary and gave an example which was inaccurate about an origin of an expression in my book. I’m sorry to disappoint anyone, but I am not interested in cute stories which do not tell it the way it is. I am a seeker of truth and historical accuracy,

That being said, I am announcing the release now of the second revision of this work. I have once again found origins of some sayings which are frequently reported one way and actually happened another. I have polished the book and added the maximum allowable pages, enclosing some slight revisions and twenty-three brand new additions. I have also changed the cover colors, though Amazon has not yet made that change. Ordering one now to be shipped after March 1 should give you the new revision and the new colorful cover. I am posting the cover here. Go to Amazon today for your copy. And I welcome all honest reviews.