Thursday, April 5, 2012

F - Footloose & Fancy-Free...




Today's Idioms are brought to you by the letter F.  I thought my options for E were kind of lame and chose the best I could, but F had lots of ones that I liked...so I couldn't narrow it down to just 3.  

1.  Mrs. Hunt was dancing, laughing, and feeling her oats.

Meaning:  To be in high spirits, energetic; to act in a proud way.

Origin:  An early 19th century American writer noticed that his horse always acted more lively and vigorous when it was well-fed with oats.  The writer applied the idea to older people, typically, and wrote that a peppy, active person was “feeling his oats.”

2.  Senator Richardson was accused of using his office to feather his own nest.

Meaning:  to be more interested in taking care of yourself and providing for your own comfort, rather than doing good for others.

Origin:  Birds line their nests with soft feathers to make a more comfortable home for themselves.  Since the 1500s, the expression has been used to refer to a greedy person who use their high power positions to make life comfortable for themselves before taking care of the people they should be taking care of.  It can be used in a more positive way, though, to mean decorating your home to make it more pleasant and comfortable.

3.  We have learned that many U.S. Presidents had feet of clay. 

Meaning:  A hidden fault of character; a weak point.

Origin:  in the Bible (Daniel 2:31-32) the king of a great empire once dreamed of a statue with a head of gold, a body of silver and brass, legs of iron, and feet of clay.  The statue broke at the ankles and its pieces blew away in the wind.  The king’s prophet interpreted the dream to mean that the empire would eventually break up.  Even today, people who are highly regarded may have secret flaws of character (“feet of clay”) that would ruin their reputations.

4.  People thought she was going to be a great concert pianist, but Cindy was just a flash in the pan.

Meaning:  a temporary success which yields no long-term results; a person who fails to live up to earlier potential.

Origin:  In the 1600s there was a popular gun called the flintlock musket.  When the trigger was pulled, sparks were supposed to make the gunpowder in a small pan on the gun go off and explode the main charge.  But sometimes there was only a flash in the pan and no big explosion.  Today, a “flash in the pan” is any person who showed great early potential (“sparks”) but never lived up to their full potential (“explosion”).

5.  I had to entertain my husband's friends from Greece.  I didn’t know their language, so I just flew by the seat of my pants.

Meaning:  to do something by instinct without any earlier experience.

Origin:  This phrase was popular among members of the U.S. Army Air Corps in the 1930s.  Often, there were few or no instruments on the planes, and if there were, the instruments often didn’t work.  So, a pilot had to sit tight (on the seat of his pants) and fly an airplane by instinct.  Today, if you do any kind of project and there are no instructions, you may have to “fly by the seat of your pants.” 

6.  Nick doesn’t have a girlfriend right now.  He’s just footloose and fancy-free.

Meaning:  not attached to anyone romantically or anything that ties them down.

Origin:  In the 16th century, “fancy” meant love, so “fancy-free” meant you weren’t in love.  In the late 17th century, “footloose” meant you were free to go anywhere because your foot was untethered.  Today, if you’re footloose and fancy-free, it means you’re not bound to any one place, job, or person. 

42 comments:

  1. Great post, loved the one about the politicians, so true!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've never heard of 1, 2, or 3. Nice breakdown of the meanings. Thanks for sharing these!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome. And yes, those three were new to me, too.

      Delete
  3. Since I'm often a pantster, it's good to know it also means I'm brave, eh?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Jaycee, thanks for stopping by and saying hello! Great use of the letter F. Feeling her oats ... I haven't heard that one before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, that was a new one to me. Thank you for stopping by. :D

      Delete
  5. I've never heard the expression feeling her oats before....

    ReplyDelete
  6. Every day, I love this more and more! "Flying by the seat of my pants" is pretty much what I do most of the time, so I enjoyed that explanation the most lol!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Love the "feeling her oats" one, haha. I might have to bring that into my vocabulary ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wanna start using it, too. But since I didn't know what it meant, I figure lots of people would be scratching their heads with that one.

      Delete
  8. These were great :) I might have to add a few to my vocabulary too hehe :) I knew someone from the Netherlands who often used dutch idioms that she just translated into English. They made no sense to us, since they had no meaning in English, it was often funny to hear. It must be difficult for foreigners to understand our idioms too :)

    Nikki – inspire nordic

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, figurative language is very difficult to understand across cultures. My husband came back with some from Australia that completely confused me.

      Delete
  9. What a great A to Z theme. Never heard of "feeling her oats" though. I've heard of "sewing your wild oats" but that means something totally different!
    A to Z of Nostalgia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Yes, they have VERY different meanings. LOL.

      Delete
  10. I think "Feather my nest" is gonna be my new catch phrase! Great post Jaycee.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Ah, U.S. Army Air Corps. But of course they were flying by the seat of their pants! Literally.

    ReplyDelete
  12. These posts are packed with interesting info. I just love them. Well done, Jaycee!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Feeling her outs sounds a little naughty. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, right? That was my first thought.

      Delete
  14. I haven't heard the feather one before. And I have to agree with ilima that "feeling her oats" does, indeed, sound a bit scandalous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Especially in relation to an older person feeling her oats. Scandalous, indeed. :D

      Delete
  15. I love this kind of stuff!!! I'd never heard of "feet of clay,' before. Very interesting! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, that was new to me, too.

      Thanks for stopping by, NASis. :D

      Delete
  16. I'm so gonna use flash in the pan. Awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I really love the flash in the pan description - all bang and no buck :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All bang and no buck is one too...I'd research it, but I've done my a's and b's already. Snap.

      Delete
  18. I have heard if all of them, but feet of clay. Very interesting origins.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Love the feet of clay one! That's a good description :) And to now know the 'panster' meaning--great!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I never heard of feeling her oats. Good one. Another great list which I enjoyed!

    ReplyDelete