Many of those entertaining surprises circulate widely through cyberspace via e-mail or myriad forms of social media. That’s how I stumbled across an e-mail titled “A Lick & A Promise” from a cousin, Bob Cody.
The female author (unknown to me) related the story of how a young clerk didn’t understand what she meant when she used the phrase “the bottom fell out” to explain a sudden downpour. “Then I started thinking of other things that I say all the time, which these young folks might not know anything about,” the author wrote.
She offered the following examples:
- Barking at a knot (meaning that your efforts were as useless as a dog barking at a knot.)
- Bee in your bonnet (to have an idea that won't let loose )
- Between hay and grass (not a child or an adult)
- Calaboose or hoosegow (a jail)
- Catawampus (something that sits crooked such as a piece of furniture sitting at an angle)
- Feather in your cap (to accomplish a goal. This came from years ago in wartime when warriors might receive a feather they would put in their cap for defeating an enemy)
- Kit and caboodle (the whole thing)
- A lick and a promise (I'm in a hurry so I am going to just give it a lick with the mop and promise to come back and do the job right later)
- Pretty is as pretty does (your actions are more important than your looks)
- Red up (clean the house)
- Sparking (courting)
- Stringing around, gallivanting around, or piddling (not doing anything of value)
- You ain't the only duck in the pond (it's not all about you)
Writing prompt for the day: What phrases do you use that you learned from your family elders?
Larry Lehmer is a professional personal historian who helps people preserve their family histories. To learn more, visit his web site, send him an e-mail or follow him on Twitter.