Tuesday, April 3, 2012

D - Dark-Horse, Dog Days, Don't Count & More




Today's idioms are brought to you by the letter D!  I had a hard time choosing just three today, so I've done a couple more than usual.  I just thought these were all so fascinating.

1.  I was surprised when Craig won the vice-presidency because he was the dark-horse candidate.

Meaning:  a contestant about whom little is known, and who wins unexpectedly.

Origin:  Three theories here, all from the early 1800s and all related to horse racing.  1) the dark horse was a horse whose speed was kept under wraps ("dark") until the race started, and then everyone was surprised when the horse won.  2)  Owners of well-known horses would dye their horses black to disguise them before a big race.  3) A horse trader would fool people by disguising his Stallion as a regular saddle horse, set up a race, take bets and always win.  It was first used in American politics with the surprise win of President James Polk in 1844.

2.  More air conditioners are sold during the dog days of summer than the rest of the year combined.

Meaning:  the hottest and most humid days of summer.

Origin:  In ancient Rome, astrologists knew Sirius, the Dog Star, rose and set with the sun during the hottest weeks of the year.  People thought the heat from the Dog Star and the heat of the sun make those weeks extra hot.  We call this the "dog days" because we get easily bored and tired when it's so hot outside.

3.  I spent the money Shelly said she would pay me, and then she disappeared without a trace.  I shouldn't have counted my chickens before they hatched.

Meaning:  don't count on profits before you have them in hand.

Origin:  Aesop once wrote about a woman carrying a basket of eggs.  In her mind she figured how much she would get for the chickens when they hatched and had plans for how to spend the money.  In her excitement, she dropped her basket and every egg smashed.  Today we use this fable to warn people not to be confident of getting a result, realizing an ambition or making profit before it actually happens.  

BONUS:  
 
4.  Dressed to the Nines (fashionably dressed):  Nine is a mystical number in numerology and represents perfection.  Also, in old English they used to say 'dressed to the eyne" meaning fashionably dressed from the toes to the eyes.  It's believed that over time the 'n' got moved over and the 'y' was changed to an 'i'

5.  Going Dutch/Dutch Treat (each person pays for own food or entertainment):  From 1800s - Dutch immigrants were thrifty and great savers.  So, when someone paid their own way during a date, it became dubbed a "dutch treat."

6.  Dyed-In-The-Wool (stubborn in beliefs):  Wool dyed in its raw state holds the dye better than if it is dyed after spinning.  The phrase has been around since 1579, people used this expression to describe people who were so firm in their beliefs that they wouldn't easily be changed.  It was first used politically in 1830 with Andrew Jackson's administration.

61 comments:

  1. Love your post! Two of them really spoke to me. The one about air conditioners because a mother of a friend said it ruined neighborhoods because people stopped sitting on their porches. I also like the one about chickens because the main character in my story lives in a town full of them.

    ScribblesFromJenn
    Happy A to Z-ing!

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  2. I've never heard of the dark-horse one. That's cool! And the dog-days-of-summer is very true when it gets really hot in July in Iowa. I'm sure that the AC guys sell more air conditioners and fix way more than that! This is such a unique and great theme. :)

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    1. Thanks! I like the dark-horse one a lot.

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  3. Very interesting about the dog days. It makes sense, though. That's a lovely tidbit of trivia to keep in mind.

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    1. What a way to impress other people with your knowledge! :)

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  4. These are such fun...but I think I've mentioned that already!

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    1. I don't care if you mention it every day! I just like to know that you're reading!

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  5. Dog days is not an expression that is very common in the UK, maybe because it doesn't get that hot LOL, but it was cool to learn where it came from.

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    1. Yeah, that makes sense. I'll try to find some cold weather ones for you. ;)

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  6. Wow, the meaning behind dog days of summer is just fascinating. It amuses me when people came up with in ancient times.

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    1. Yeah, I never would have guessed it was related to a star. I always just thought tired dogs or something.

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  7. i love reading about the origins! happy d day!

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  8. These were great! I really enjoy reading about the origins, just like Tara :) I knew some of these! But I wasn't sure what dog days were, even though I've heard that one a lot. Thank you!

    Nikki – inspire nordic

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  9. I like Dressed to the Nines. I'd seriously bet it refers to the Old English corruption than 9 resembling perfection. (Since in the bible, 7 seems to be the favored number.)

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    1. I'm thinking so, too, although I just paraphrased a much longer theory about the number 9 that made it plausible. Still, the second one makes more sense.

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  10. My favorite is the dog days of summer. Love these.

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  11. These are all so great. I'm making a list so I can impress someone in a conversation one of these days. "Did you know how the expression XXXX started? No? Well let me tell you." :-)

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  12. Hm. I liked dyed in the wool. I've never heard that one before. I'm so going to have to use it one day :)

    Anna@ Herding Cats & Burning Soup

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    1. I've always heard: "He's a dyed-in-the-wool Republican," or "He's a dyed-in-the-wool Christian." I knew it meant very dedicated in his/her beliefs, but I never knew where the saying came from. Thanks for stopping by!

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  13. I like the imagery of the phrase dyed in the wool. So cool. Indelible. Geez, were we supposed to think up three things for D? I'm an errant player then. I'm sticking with one. Thanks for hopping over to comment. Catherine

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    1. No, not at all. Three is the number of idioms I just try to limit to myself, but I'm having a hard time with...obviously. :D

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  14. So cool. Love this little tid-bits.

    Jen from http://falling4fiction.blogspot.com/

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  15. I grew up near a Dutch section of Michigan so I heard cheapskate jokes about the Dutch all the time.

    I like the dark horse idiom.

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    1. Well, that's kind of crappy. :(

      I like the dark horse idiom, too...it has a mysterious vibe to it. :D

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  16. Visiting from the challenge.
    These are great idioms - I love "dressed to the nines" as well as "dark horse"

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  17. Fascinating collection - I did not know the origin of some of these
    Glad I stopped by!

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  18. I knew where a few of them came from, but I didn't realize that about "dressed to the nines." Makes sense. :)

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    1. Yeah, some of them have pretty logical conclusions - I tend to like the ones that are a little more obscure. :D

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  19. I've heard of all of these, but didn't know where they came from. Thanks.

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  20. I totally thought I commented on this earlier this morning. I'm losing my mind. Lol

    I havent heard many of these in a long time. Dog days of summer are my favorite.

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    1. Yeah, I visit so many blogs every day trying to check everyone's out that I sometimes forget if I've visited someone's page. It's cool. :D

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  21. These are so fascinating. Not to mention useful if anyone is writing historical stuff and needs to know when a phrase came into usage....

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    1. It'd be cool to think I'm helping someone out in that way. :D

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  22. Oh how fun...I knew the words and meanings, but not the origins!

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    1. That's why I decided to do these. There are so many things we say and don't know why - it's fun finding out where the idea came from! :D

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  23. These are super interesting. I knew about the dog days of summer cuz I did a post on it last summer. The others I've heard of but didn't know the origins. Very cool post, Jaycee!

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    1. Thank you! It's fun finding these things out!

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  24. You're really putting some research into this, aren't you? Thanks, these are fun :-)

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    1. Eh, a little bit. I'm getting many of them from a dictionary on Idioms that I use in my classroom. Kind of cheating...

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  25. Very interesting post! It's funny, sometimes you hear something so often that you don't even stop to think about how in the heck such a seemingly odd phrase came to mean what it means. Cool to find out. As a resident of South Florida, I'm especially familiar with those dog days. Those are the days I don't even want to leave the house!

    J.W.

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    1. Thank you! That's why I decided to do them. I kept wondering where the heck certain phrases came from and decided, why not find out?

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  26. "Don't count your chickens before they've hatched" is my mom's fav saying. LOL

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    1. Yeah, my mom's a fan of that one, too. :D

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  27. Thank you for sharing the origins of these expressions. I love reading about where our words and phrases come from. It's a fascinating subject to me.

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    1. You're very welcome! Lots more to come!

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  28. Wow... Nice post... I always wondered about Double Dutch, and when I lived in Holland, I always dined out with a wary eye on the couples... in case there was ever any fighting over the bill :)

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    1. LOL. Awesome!

      Thanks for stopping by, Mark!

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  29. Interesting about the "dressed to the nines" bit. I've always wondered about that one.

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    1. Funnily enough, this is the phrase that was partly responsible for me doing the idioms for my A-Z. I was working on editing a chapter, saw that I had written that line, and wondered why we say that. My A-Z was born.

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  30. I was surprised when I learned that 'dog days' weren't really related to dogs...

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    1. Yeah, I always thought it meant that dogs were really tired and lazy when it was hot out. Was fun to learn it had to do with the dog star.

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  31. Excellent choices yet again. Also, it was 86 here yesterday. I wonder what the dog days will feel like this year if it's already this crazy hot.

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