Tuesday, April 17, 2012

P - Pass the buck, Pen is mightier than the sword, Pulling out all the stops!

Today's idioms are brought to you by the letter 'P."

1.  You have to make a choice. You can’t pass the buck on this one.


Meaning: to pass on or make another person accept responsibility or blame for something one does not want to accept for his or her own.

Origin: In a 19th-century American poker game, “buck” was a piece of buckshot (a shotgun pellet) or a pocketknife with a buckhorn handle. It was passed to you if you were the next dealer. By 1900, “passing the buck” meant shifting responsibility for something to another person. In 1949 President Harry Truman put a sign on his desk that read “The Buck Stops Here,” which meant that he was accepting personal responsibility for all the decisions that needed to be made and all actions that needed to be taken; he was going to direct his problems to anybody else.

2.  I’d rather be a writer than a general because the pen is mightier than the sword.

Meaning: writing is greater than fighting. (DUH! I doubt many of us are going to disagree with this one).

Origin: First used in the 1600s. Started out as “the pen is worse than the sword.” History has shown that writers and statesmen using their pens have often had a greater effect on the course of events than military leaders and conquerors wielding swords. Think of the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, and other important writings that have changed the course of history more than wars have.


3.  Tonight, Jared is pulling out all the stops: candlelight dinner, violin music, champagne, the works! Then he’ll ask Sheila to marry him.

Meaning: to do everything possible to succeed; to do something as enthusiastically as you can.

Origin: this saying comes from the second half of the 19th century and refers to the workings of big organs. Church organs have many pipes that an organist played by pulling out knobs called stops. If you pulled out all the stops, you got the fullest, loudest, most ear-filling sound possible. That idea was carried over to other activities in life where one goes all out to succeed or enjoy an activity.

I haven't done a credit shout out in a short while, so once again, many of these are from: Scholastic’s Dictionary of Idioms.

Also, I've interviewed Debut YA author Bonnie Rae here on the blog today, as well.  Be sure to check out her interview and comment, as one lucky commenter is going to win a free copy of her book!

19 comments:

  1. Ah ha! Finally, I knew all of them already.... Bet it's the last time.

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  2. I didn't know the origins of any of these!

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  3. I love reading your idiom origins. Learn something new everyday.

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  4. never knew that was a game! and i wish we had a prez like that today!

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  5. Very interesting. I like the origin of the pen. :)

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  6. These are great little pearls of wisdom. I wonder where that one originated. Thanks for passing them to those of us who are doing the blog tour.

    http://francene-wordstitcher.blogspot.com

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    1. You're very welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

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  7. I adore the meaning of the second one. (Yay, writers!)

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  8. Pulling out all the stops came from an organ? Who knew?

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    1. The writers of the book I got it from, apparently. :D

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  9. I have the Pen quote in my W.I.P.

    ScribblesFromJenn
    Happy A to Z-ing!

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  10. Did you ever see that SNL Celebrity Jeopardy clip where they talk about "The Pen Is Mightier?" He pronounces it "The Penis Mightier." Classic.

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