Friday, April 13, 2012

M - Mad as a hatter, Making no bones, Minding your p's and q's, and Monkey on my back...

Today's idioms are brought to you by the letter 'm'.  Enjoy!

1.  Cassie is as mad as a hatter, but she's my most interesting friend. 

Meaning:  crazy, strange, eccentric.

Origin:  People who worked in felt-hat companies in the 1800s inhaled fumes of mercuric nitrate (which was used to stiffen the material) and, as a result, developed twitches, jumbled their speech, and grew confused.  The condition was sometimes mistaken for madness and gave birth to the expression "mad as a hatter."

2.  She made no bones about the fact that she disapproved of guests wearing shoes on her carpet.

Meaning:  to speak directly, plainly, honestly, and without hesitation or doubt.

Origin:  This was first used in print in 1548.  It came about from the fact that if there are no bones in your soup, you can just swallow it without worrying about choking.  That's like speaking plainly without worrying.

3.  Make sure you mind your P's and Q's when the principal visits our classroom.

Meaning:  to be extremely exact; be careful not to say or do anything wrong; mind your manners.

While the origins aren't entirely clear, it's been used these ways in the past: 
1)  This term was beginning to be used in the 1600s.  In old English pubs, a list of the pints (P's) and quarts (Q's) a drinker consumed were written on a blackboard to be paid for later. 
2)  Pieds and queues are dance steps that a French dancing instructor would teach his students to perform with care.

4.  Ford has to get this monkey off his back and lay off the dope.

Meaning:  stop a bad habit (most often drug or drink addiction), be rid of something.

Origin:  A monkey can be a cute, playful animal, but it can also be a clingy burden.  Not many of us would want a wild, untrained monkey on our back (especially not Ashley N. who commented the other day about her dislike of monkeys).  So someone who is struggling with a "monkey on their back" is struggling with an overwhelming or troubling burden. 

29 comments:

  1. What a fun way to meet this challenge! New follower here. I’m enjoying reading my fellow “A to Z”ers. I look forward to visiting again.

    Sylvia
    http://www.writinginwonderland.blogspot.com/

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  2. I think I am mad as a hatter too! =P

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  3. Whenever someone says mad as a hatter, I always think of the Mad Hatter and want to sing "A very merry un-birthday to you!"

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  4. I really thought mad as a hatter was an Alice in Wonderland thing! I actually like the real origin better lol!

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  5. Ahh, yes. Mad as a Hatter. That's the one that describes me.

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  6. Without the poisoning, of course.

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  7. I think that the history behind "minding your Ps and Qs" is really interesting. It's an idiom I've heard often, but I've never really understood its background. Now I know more. Thanks! :)

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    1. I've actually heard this one before, but I always forget it. Maybe I'll remember it now.

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  8. My significant other is upset with the monkey idiom! She liked hearing where they came from and actually knew Mad as a Hatter.

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  9. Love this group of idioms too! I'm partial to the mad hatter one. I'm sure there were a lot of horrid chemical mixtures in factories and workplaces way back when. I always think of poor Vincent Van Gogh too, licking his paint brush filled with cadmiums and other icky stuff. As far as the monkey--good image--I would NOT like any filthy little fingernails pressing into my skin as the monkey held onto my neck. Yah!

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    1. I guess people who wore the hats were also sometimes struck by the condition. And yeah, the monkey thing would be yucky.

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  10. No way?! I totally thought Mad as a Hatter came from Alice in Wonderland, LOL.

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    1. PS, I love that you used my name, even if it was unintentional, haha!

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    2. It was unintentional - I was watching Secret Circle on TiVo at the time I put this together. LOL. :D

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    3. I think you and I are the only two people in the world that are still watching that show, lol.

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  11. And did you use Cassie's name on purpose? Just asking.

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    1. No - as I told Cassie, I was watching Secret Circle on TiVo when I wrote this and just chose Cassie b/c I needed a name.

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  12. Oh, I really liked the 'made no bones about' history.
    Haha, I remember when I learned the history behind 'Mad as a Hatter' and was like, wow, and looked at Alice in Wonderland in a new light.

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    1. Seriously. Makes you wonder what made the Mad Hatter all kooky. :D

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  13. I love that in the past people made up sayings to cover toxic fumes (Mad as a Hatter). Today we call OSHA and close down everything. Progress!

    Still enjoying your theme on this A to Z!

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    1. I know, right. That stuff would never fly today.

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  14. Hi Jaycee--I also that mad as a hatter came from Alice and her Wonderland--thanks for setting me straight. :)

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