I have been involved in doing research and publishing my results for the past thirty plus years. The purpose and goal of meaningful researchers is to find and publish new truth. I admire those who are able to accomplish this, and a lot of them are my friends.
About ten years ago I began researching origins and meanings meanings of English phrases and sayings because I found so much inaccurate information in both printed works and online. The results have been rewarding to me and obviously to thousands of others who have purchased my books in either paperback or Kindle e-book format. I have been fortunate to have some intelligent, educated people give me rave reviews.
90% of the ones posted on Amazon have been 5 stars on my most popular volume, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions, original book. My work has been selected by several college and university libraries, as well as public and school libraries, and numerous authors and professors. It has been used to teach English as a second language and as a reference work for obtaining a doctorate degree at a leading University.
But there will still be some who ‘just don’t get it,’ and that’s okay. But when I am able to uncover information regarding a figurative expression which has not been previously published, I feel that I am still making headway in the education of others.
Of course I’m not perfect, and sometimes miss the mark a bit, but I truly try. Thousands of hours have been put into my work, and I have proven some popular sources to be wrong about the dates or coining of some popular phrases. I now have two different volumes of this book in print, and am well into the final Volume III, due out next spring. Once this book has been released, the set will contain over 3, 800 sayings. After that, I plan on doing an alphabetical order index book which will list all entries for the three volumes and where to find them. Just this morning I made a new discovery which may tell how a phrase went from literal to figurative. The possible original source, to my knowledge, has never before been linked in any other book of this type. Here is that entry. This will serve as a copyright on this information:
Playing for keeps
This is an idiom for doing something seriously rather than just for fun. It originated in the 19th century in the game of marbles, which is played by drawing a circle on the ground and each player placing a set number of marbles in the circle, then taking turns shooting another marble into the circle to try to knock out the opponent’s marbles. The term ‘playing for keeps’ was coined to mean that the marbles knocked out of the circle would become the property of the player who knocked them out. ‘Playing for fun’ meant that the original owner retained the marbles brought into play. By the early 20th century, playing for keeps came to be applied to any matter which became serious. One of the very first figurative examples, newly discovered in the writing of this book, and possibly even the coining, came in Bourbon News, Paris, Kentucky, May 24, 1901, page 4, column 3, under the heading, ‘Playing for Keeps’:
“I know a whole lot of boys, some of them living in Massachusetts today, who are playing for keeps, but instead of marbles, they are using wheat or corn, or railroad stocks.”